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Alabama Mike • CD Release Show!

Alabama Mike was nominated four years back by The Blues Foundation in Memphis as “Traditional Blues Male Artist.” Although Charlie Musselwhite ended up taking home the trophy, the honor served to put Mike on the national blues map, as have two terrific CDs on his own Jukehouse label.

                With Upset the Status Quo, his third solo disc, the Northern California blues wailer and his backing musicians -- made up of the cream of the area’s blues session players, plus two visitors from Southern California: onetime Robert Cray keyboardist Jim Pugh and legendary bassist Jerry Jemmott, who was between gigs with Aretha Franklin -- take the blues in bold new directions while remaining steeped in tradition. The tunes – eight of the 11 from Mike’s own pen – range from blues shuffles and ballads to funky soul grooves and a two-beat shout tempo straight out of church. Many of his lyrics cleverly address such contemporary concerns as social media, identity theft, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and restraining orders.
                “When you write songs about real life, people really connect to that,” Mike says. “The first thing that’s gonna catch ‘em is the groove, and after that you tell a story and they’ll get it. When the two are nailed together, you got something. You’re touching the spirit then.”
                “Everybody’s talking about, ‘Is the blues gonna survive?’” he adds. “The blues can’t survive if everybody keeps doing the same old stuff that everybody else is doing.”
                By stepping outside the parameters that limit so much of today’s blues, while still true to the genre’s heart and soul, Mike certainly upsets the status quo with his vibrant new approach to the music, making it refreshingly relevant to life in the second decade of the 21st Century. 
                                     --Lee Hildebrand, contributor to The San Francisco Chronicle and Living Blues

Alabama Mike is a hard-driving Chicago-style blues singer with the ability to make you feel as if you’ve revisited the early CHESS RECORDS days. He's a force on the microphone with a first rate, church house tenor’, that he was blessed with. He has a sound that will remind you of a young BB King or Buddy Guy, Elmore James and Little Johnny Taylor.

Michael A. Benjamin, aka Alabama Mike was born January 31, 1964 in Talladega, Alabama. He was influenced by the gospel singing of his father who encouraged him and his five siblings to begin singing in the church at a very early age. He came to California in 1983 via a military hitch in the U.S. Navy which landed him in the San Francisco Bay area. Several years down the road, as he soaked up what he could learn from blues records he collected and local blues act and associates along the way, he started performing the blues professionally in 1999. He was fortunate enough to put a record label (Jukehouse Records) together in 2009 along with co-founder Scott Silveira and released his first record entitled Day To Day which officially broke him into the blues music scene. Domestically and internationally known for his first rate tenor’ vocals and his witty and ingenious song writing skills, he then followed with his sophomore offering in 2011 which he entitled Tailor Made Blues that has been causing some fuss around here, garnering five star reviews in all the major blues magazines and heavy airplay worldwide.

The next stop for Mike was an acoustic blues-trio called the The Hound Kings. Their CD UNLEASHED was nominated by The Blues Foundation for a 2014 Blues Music Award in the Acoustic Album category. Alabama Mike performed at the 2014 Blues Music Awards with The Hound Kings and was rated one of the Top Ten Highlights of the show by the Blues Foundation.  Alabama Mike has shared the stage with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, John Primer, Lurrie Bell, Steve Freund, Bobby Rush, Johnny Rawls, Fillmore Slim, R. J. Mischo, DeWayne Wiggins, Willie (Big Eyes) Smith and so many others. He has also played several national festivals and concerts including the Poconos Blues Festival, and the Reno Blues Festival.

He has previously been awarded 2010 Blues New Artist Of The Year ~ Bay Area Blues Society, 2010 Nominee Blues Blast Magazine Beat New Artist Debut Recording, 2011 Nominee Blues Foundation ~ Category:Blues Music Award Traditional Blues ~Male Artist Of The Year. He is currently preparing a 2015 release of blues/soul  original compositions that is sure to have blues lovers and listeners anticipating Alabama Mike’s third solo project which will be produced by Kid Anderson (Greaseland Music Services) in the San Francisco Bay Area. This work will feature the likes of Jim Pugh who was with Robert Cray for 25 years and before then he was in Etta James’ and Otis Rush’s bandson organ and piano  and Jerry Jemmott who played bass in King Curtis’ band in the 60′s, and they played on most of the Aretha Franklin, BB King, Freddie King and Otis Rush records of that time the 60′s. There will also be a host of local bay area blues artist featured such as Lil Jonny Lawton, Aki Kumar, Sid Morris, Kedar Roy and many others will be accompanying him.

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