When asked, Mike Munson (Winona, MN) tells people he plays American music. With over a decade of long drives to well-lit, expansive stages, tiny dive bars, and everything in between, Munson has seen plenty of the country that influences his songwriting. He is a listener first, soaking up the chord changes and non-traditional tunings of players from rural Mississippi to Chicago, studying the mastery of Fred McDowell and Charlie Christian alike.
Munson’s song writing leaves much to interpretation and strongly invites Midwestern toe-tappers to get out on the dance floor. He brings dark themes and heavy rhythms to his work, echoing the traditional country blues that provide the undercurrent of his creativity. Having recorded at the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Mississippi and been mentored by Grammy nominee Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Munson has come face to face with the living history of the music of the delta. Munson’s sound is marked by a reverence for this historic southern idiom, which is laden with intricate finger picking and hypnotic rhythms. His playing highlights the similarities between blues, American primitive guitar and early rock and roll.
Munson released his seventh full-length album, “Underwood” in 2023. A solo project focused on blending new material and traditional tunes over the course of two short days in the studio. Utilizing thoughtful, unconventional microphone placement while avoiding overdubs and compiled takes, the sonics harken back to the juke joints and early electrified recording sessions of country blues.
Though best known as a solo performer, in 2023 the Mike Munson Trio was formed in collaboration with bassist Nick Salisbury and drummer Lars-Erik Larson. The group was immediately well-received, headlining regional festivals in the winter of 2024. The band builds on Munson’s rich catalog adding modern jazz and traditional folk songs to the mix.
In 2024 Munson will release the acoustic, instrumental album “Perihelion Day” (Liatris Records) under the moniker upup/OVER as he continues to expand his creative playing field. Inspired by time and space and the distance between humans and nature, upup/OVER explores big issues without letting words get in the way.