Michael Kirkpatrick

All Ages | Friday Night - 9:30am to 10:15am (Friday) @ Equinox Brewing

The Incredible String Band

Michael was born and raised in Cascadia and now resides in Northern Colorado with his wife and a room full of strings. As a wee child Michael would reach through the bars of his crib to press buttons on his Dad's juke box. He was exposed to Rock 'n Roll and the vocal stylings of Mick Jagger, Eric Burdon, Justin Hayward, John Lennon and many others early in his life. His father (who still owns the largest collection of LP's and 45's Michael has ever seen) introduced the guitar to Michael before his hands could even wrap around the neck. In fifth grade it was time to start band! He began learning woodwinds, with sax and clarinet being his favorites. The drive and discipline that music demands was acquired in these early years. Michael vividly remembers a punishment for being tardy to band practice: it included an afterschool detention consisting of viewing live video footage of Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix and The Grateful Dead. After detention Michael left with three new favorite artists and knew how much his band director really cared for his students!

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Rock 'n Roll and the Guitar

Farmers Market in 2008Michael got his first electric guitar from Santa Claus and in 8th grade and began forming garage bands with neighborhood kids in the suburbs of Seattle. "It was a Strat Copy made by Honer, I thought Honer only made harmonicas!" "It was the coolest thing I've ever touched, I remember trying to play my favorite Jimmy Page riffs and also discovering how to make different tones…that was the most exciting thing to me back then, the guitar tones." When Michael got to high school he was faced with some pretty fierce competition amongst the woodwind section and became the not-so-jazzy guitarist in the Jazz band. The experience in jazz was tough, but two years of guitar lessons opened his ears to extended harmony and "sweet licks." As he broadened his interests, Michael joined the Concert Choir; realizing that a good voice (not just the guitar tone!) was the key to so many of his favorite rock bands at the time such as Led Zeppelin, Soundgarden and Nirvana, (his dad bought him a copy of Nirvanas Nevermind on cassette the week it was released). Other influential bands were: The Byrds, The Beattles, The Moody Blues, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Being a teenager in the 1990's, Michael found little inspiration from the current trends in popular music beyond the Grunge scene. This lack of interest in current popular music turned Michael's attention back in time to Rock 'n Roll and yes, Classical Music.

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Folk Roots and the Mandolin

New West Fest 2009, Fort Collins, COIn High School Michael realized that music would always be a large part of his life and quit after school sports so he could play the guitar. His growing interest in music prompted his continually supportive parents to give him a Mandolin for his 14th birthday. He learned to write songs by skipping class (he NEVER ditched band) and copying his favorite folk musicians such as Donovan, The Incredible String Band, John Renbourn, Graham Nash and James Taylor. As a senior in High School, Michael self-produced his first EP of original music, Songs From My Backyard in 1994. "I went to a new High School built in the quickly growing suburbs of Seattle, they had a music technology room with an ADAT machine…I think it was one of the first digital tape recorders on the market…I began experimenting with multi-tracking my vocal, guitar and mandolin parts." Although Songs From My Backyard was rough and contained some tunes written by an obvious beginner, one can hear a blossoming vocal style. "I specifically remember trying to re-create the lush sound of vocal harmonies that you would find in The Byrds and CSN recordings." This first attempt at creating a recorded listening experience stoked Michael's ear and his interest in the many facets of music production.

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Classical Training: VOICE

Seattle Gala 2005At Washington State University Michael could be found experimenting with Jazz, Madrigal and Concert Choirs as well as playing guitar in local Rock and Blues bands. His first touring experience came when his Madrigal Choir travelled to Italy to perform Motets in several Cathedrals including St. Peters in the Vatican City.

"We performed in the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. Our director Lori Wiest cued a cut off for the end of a piece and I remember hearing it ring out for more than 30 seconds, I think the tears swelled up and began flowing after 10 seconds. Music has always had the power to make me cry, but this was the first time music made me cry in public."

In 1998 Michael gained confidence as a solo singer, finding his rich bass-baritone voice he auditioned for Mozart's "Le Nozze Di Figaro," and was given the role of Figaro. This was his first foray into Opera, and he loved it. "Opera is a lot like Rock 'n Roll," Michael says, "and you need balls to sing it." Michael finished his undergraduate studies in music with vocal momentum that would continue to this day.

Michael moved to Colorado in 2000 to study Opera Theater at University of Northern Colorado, and received a first place award at the Fort Collins Opera singing competition. In 2003 Michael became an apprentice at the Santa Fe Opera Company performing as a chorus member and understudy. There, he accepted a role in the world premier of "Madame Mao" by Bright Sheng. "Santa Fe was beautiful. I met amazing musicians and composers; I rehearsed outside, attended parties that served the finest tequila, lived in a pink adobe house in the center of town and climbed the surrounding Sangre de Cristo Mountains in my free time...I'd love to go back someday!"

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The Folkadellic Sound

Holler!ween VWhile working on his Master's thesis in music, Michael formed the Wildwood Holler! string band. "There's an eclectic tradition amongst string bands in Colorado, it was exciting to enter a scene that was so creative and boundary dissolving" Michael says. "In the Rockies, you could hear a traditional fiddle tune played on saxophone and steel drum; I knew that I found a groovy scene that would hopefully embrace me." This catalyzed Michael's first forays into Bluegrass and Americana music, and it was the first band he played mandolin in. Wildwood Holler! went on to record Exclamation (2005) and Round Trip (2007) and achieved local success in Northern Colorado with National Public Radio calling Wildwood Holler! "The Best New artist of 2005."

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Evolution

Holler!ween IIIIn 2006 Michael self-produced Green Man, an album of all original compositions with the voices of Mandolin, Guitar, Lap Steel, Sitar, Organ, Bass and Percussion all performed by Michael. The music on Green Man blazes an overgrown trail in folk music incorporating heavy rock and psychedelic influences that would become more prevalent in his later works. In 2008, Michael's band Wildwood Holler! went through some hefty changes. Drums and Tuba were added and the sound evolved away from bluegrass and began to take on that folk-rock flavor. HandPicked Holler! went on to record Road to Gemini in the spring of 2009. Live performances by HandPicked Holler! followed at the Fort Collins Musicians' Experiment, Aggie Theater, the New West Fest, Gemini Fest, New Belgium Brewing Company's Tour de Fat, and the 7th Holler!ween event. These events, by all accounts, were unforgettable.

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The Current Projects

Wedding Music 2007In an attempt to broaden his listening audience and pay homage to his songwriting influences, Michael recorded an album of covers called, in a rare display of originality, The Cover Songs. Again, Michael performed every instrument and recorded and mixed the album by himself. The formula for this album would be to take familiar songs from 60's and 70's pop repertoire and add his own flair. Sensual crooning in Michael's deep "golden" bass register would characterize these songs and elevate the listener beyond the original composers intent. This is currently an unreleased work and we look forward to Michael's finishing touches.

The current inception of Wildwood Holler!, simply called The Holler!, is rocking Northern Colorado with their original psychedelic-folk arrangements. The band enjoys a rich collaboration between all four members, each contributing lyrics and their own unique vocal timbers, carrying on the strong vocal tradition Michael established in Wildwood Holler!. Recently, The Holler! placed 3rd in the Scene Magazine Battle of the Bands, a local honor that will provide momentum for touring this summer. A new album of original folk-rock material from The Holler! is expected in the spring of 2011.

2010 was a year of intense collaboration with local Colorado musicians. Guest appearances on stage with local bands and a musical production of Danny Elfman's Nightmare Before Christmas exposed Michael to many local artists in the growing Colorado scene. Michael's latest recording, Play Me! utilizes the percussive talents of two local drummers and several guests that add color to his original compositions. "No one will ever pay me to play drums" explains Michael, "So I called upon some very talented locals." Like his projects Green Man, and The Cover Songs; Play Me! shows off Michaels knack for arranging lush orchestrations of acoustic and electric instruments. Copies went into circulation via hand distribution in early 2011 and will be available around the world as a digital download soon.

Currently, Michael is performing as a soloist, with The Holler!, and on rare occasion with the Colorado super group Bourbon Toothpaste. He is also developing two Fort Collins events in the underground that are making waves amongst local "festivarians" and musicians alike: The Beltane Masquerade in its 3rd year and Holler!ween in its 9th year. "These events are filled with costumes and masks," explains Michael. "I think there is a fine line between concert and theater that more bands need to cross..."

Michael is looking forward to touring in support of his solo projects and The Holler!. He is always striving for the next moment of ecstasy on stage, searching for a sound that brings him to tears. "It sounds funny but that's how I know I'm on the right path, it's how I know I'm making beautiful music--the tears come as a confirmation that the muse is being satisfied." Michael reflects on his interesting journey: "When I look back on everything I've dabbled with in my relatively short career I can see a little bit of everything…this is either an indication of my lack of attention in one area of music or a testament to the diverse picture that the muse is driving me to create." Any fan of Michael's will agree the latter is true…his passion and drive to create an experience for the listener makes him a class act on stage, a prolific songwriter, as well as a creative studio musician and producer.

Performers: 
  • Michael Kirkpatrick, Singer