Friday, May 19, 2023

Gimme 5 - Mike Ross puts together his personal playlist

Mike Ross is a singer, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist - and a sharp-tongued observer of modern life.  He recently released his latest album Third Eye Open, so let's give him the chance to spin the bottle and point to some songs, artists and characters that get his mojo working.  Gimme 5, Mike!

Mike Ross - If you're sitting comfortably, he'll begin
Pic by Rob Blackham
Gimme 5 songs, old or new, that have been on your radar recently.

'Dust In A Baggie' by Billy Strings: "An unbelievable singer and guitarist that I've just been introduced to - he has an incredible story having grown up in poverty. His dad taught him how to play old bluegrass tunes from a young age and he's just the best there's ever been it seems. So humble and authentic too, really shaking the country music scene up in the USA and beyond."
'The Mavericks' by Juanita Stein: "Juanita's a friend of mine and a fellow transplanted Brightonian - she writes incredible songs and sings them so beautifully. I played bass in her band for a show recently and hope to do more in the future, the songs are such a joy to play."
'The Lee Shore' by Stephen Stills, with David Crosby: "Two of my favourite singer songwriters ever. Crosby died recently and I just sobbed for days man - such a massive influence on me. The version of this I'm thinking of just came out on a Stills release Live in Berkeley 1971 and the whole album is great, but this is one of my favourite CSNY songs so I had to pick it."
'Be Here Now' by George Harrison: "Aaah George, beautiful, cosmic George. Here at his most
spiritual with a song played in open G tuning. I love the message here, ' the here now'. Really helps me keep grounded in these days of media-induced 'permacrisis'."
'Come And Go Blues' by The Allman Brothers Band: "The Allmans are my besties! Hard to pick
Cheerful chappies the Allman Brothers Band - well, one of 'em at least
a favourite one by them, in fact mostly I'd go for something from the Live at the Fillmore album with Duane playing guitar, but this track from their first release post Duane's death has been on my car stereo a lot recently so it's in the list today."

Gimme 5 artists or bands who have had a big influence on your work.

The Rolling Stones: "I kind of forget about London's finest sometimes due to having played their mid 60's/mid70's 'golden era' back catalogue to DEATH when I was younger.  But they really had it all, from gritty blues to wild rock'n'roll, psychedelic dreamscapes, riff rock, country twang. The whole trick bag. And Mick Taylor, man. What a soloist."
AC/DC: "My first rock 'bromance' – from about age 11 I started listening to rock music and AC/DC were my favourites by a country mile. I'm more of a Bon Scott 'bad boy boogie' era guy than a 'shake your foundations' Brian Johnson man (even though my mum went to school with Brian!) but I love all their stuff up to about 1988. Bad boy boogies indeed. Red hot riffs and guitar tones to last you a lifetime."
Creedence Clearwater Revival: "More bad boy boogie from the California swamp kings! What a band – so far ahead of their time. I watched some live footage from about 1970 of them playing the Albert Hall and they were just RULING it – tight as hell with a great sound and hypnotising onstage presence. Shame how that all ended with them but John Fogerty is a massive influence on my songwriting, everything really."
The Allman Brothers Band: "Where do I start! I went to see them in the early 90s when I was just a teenager and they literally changed my life – 2 hour set with a 30 minute encore, just wailing the whole time. I rushed home and the next day I bought their Live at The Fillmore double album and it's still teaching me about groove, mood and taste to this day whenever I give it a spin. What a band!"
The Who: "The Who circa about 1971 are again a huge influence on me. Wonderful tight band
Pete Townshend prepares to spread some Marmite
Pic by Ross Halfin
live with endless energy and dynamics, Pete's songwriting is just on another level for me – so full of story and message. Powerful stuff."

Gimme 5 guests you’d love to invite to your ideal long lunch.

Pete Townshend: "Acerbic, sarcastic, knowledgeable and gifted - the 'Marmite' lunch companion!"
Larry Graham: "Bassist for Sly & The Family Stone. One bad mother. I want to hear first hand the story about how after he quit The Family, Sly tried to get him assassinated. Heavy dudes."
Neal Stephenson: "The author. A mind jammed full of incredible history and (un)believable
futures. The inventor of the term 'metaverse'."
William Gibson: "My other fave author. Wrote the books that inspired The Matrix. I borrowed the 'Clovis' name and concept of alternate futures influencing the past from his book The Peripheral for my The Clovis Limit Pts 1 & 2 records.
Gabor Mate: "The Canadian doctor and author. Every word he says blows my mind. His theories of how mental health and addiction connect both physically and spiritually are fascinating."
Just one track – pick one of your tracks that you’d share with a new listener to introduce your music.

"I'll go for my song ‘Third Eye Open’ – actually the last tune I wrote for the new album and it ended up being the title track! There was a big hole in the song list for the record and it needed something massive and sprawling to fill it. The brief was 'AC/DC playing Sabbath Riffs with a George Harrison bit in the middle' and that's exactly what we got I reckon. I think it's important to see what you say, especially these days where most media is manipulated so much that it's unrecognisable as truth or fiction and my lyrics here pull no punches, from attacking "petty moral signallers and slimy hypocrites" to imagining an end to oppression, pitiless hatred and greed."

Check out the Blues Enthused review of Mike's album Third Eye Open here.

And you can find details of Mike's forthcoming live shows here.

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