Newsletter

Existential Banjo

ENJOY EVERY EPISODE!

Episode 1
Little Pink America
with Corky Siegel &
Sons of the Never Wrong

Episode 2
People Get Ready
with Sue Demel, vocals

Episode 3
MTA (Poor Ol' Charlie)
with Tony Trischka


Episode 4
Suite for Americas:  Dorian
with Nora Barton, cello

Episode 5
Midnight Rider
with Darol Anger. violin

Episode 6
Vincent Black Lightning
@ Chicago City Winery

Episode 7
Hasna ya Layla
with Aziz Samaoui, ngoni

Episode 8
Opus 821
with Geraldo de Oliveira

Episode 9
Gaudete & Sleepers Awake
with David Jennings, vibes

Episode 10
Corrina, Corrina
with Aziz Samaoui, ngoni 

Episode 11
Dokunmak
with Erkan Ogur
(Concert in Istanbul)

Episode 12
Last Thing On My Mind
with Tom Paxton, songwriter

New Releases

A-sides CD

Fingerstyle guitar with Darol Anger on violin 

 

Two New Hal Leonard books

BOB DYLAN FOR BANJO

 

FIRST 50 SONGS
To Play on the Banjo 
(co-written with Greg Cahill)

 

About Michael J. Miles

 

 A TRUE STORY....

When Pete Seeger first heard Michael Miles, he sent a letter to Michael saying that "in all my 70 years this is among the most beautiful recordings I’ve ever heard...it is enough to make me want to learn the banjo all over again.”
 

Michael Miles is one of America’s most inventive clawhammer banjo players. Add guitar, vocals, jazz instruments, orchestras and complex historically-themed theatrical presentations to the mix and, two decades later, Michael has a critically acclaimed catalog of original compositions, stage performances, music CD’s and music instruction books.

Michael's performance credits include the Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institution, Ravinia Festival, Harris Theatre in Chicago, American University in Beirut, Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival in Ireland, MIAM Graduate Conservatory of Music in Istanbul,  and the Royal Opera Theatre in Marrakesh.

 

 

 

 

While in Istanbul, I met these amazing Iranian musicians who have a community music school right near the university where we were doing our concerts and workshops.   In this video Sharhad Sidfar plays his 8 string saz, explains how microtonal maqams work, and allows me to join him in a duet with banjo and saz.  

 

(Photo.  Erkan Ogur with double-necked fretless guitar and in concert with Miles Trio)

The Miles Trio (with David Jennings, vibes and Geraldo de Oliveira, percussion) spent two weeks doing concerts and workshops in Istanbul.  We were there at the time of Ankara bombing, and experienced the other side of the world in crisis.   For the full story click here.   Miles_Trio_in_Istanbul.pdf

Miles Trio

THE MILES TRIO

This ensemble features my musical comrades David Jennings on vibes and drumset, along with Geraldo de Oliveira on hand percussion.  We are going to Istanbul in the fall and playing our very first concert as trio this Saturday, July 11 at 1pm at the Old Town School's Square Roots Festival.    Music includes original works, jazz, folk music, Bach, and Brazilian chorro.  

My new book from Hal Leonard, "Folk Songs For Banjo" is reviewed in the Dec 2014 issue of Banjo Newletter. 

"That these songs have endured for so long is testament to their quality. They are quintessential American folk songs arranged for the quintessential American folk instrument by a five-string master. This collection belongs on your banjo bookshelf."  

Tim Jumper, Banjo Newsletter                  Click here for the review:           Purchase a copy

 

My 25 year correspondence with Pete is both shown and told on the PBS program Chicago Tonight on WTTW in Chicago.  Click the link below for the full program which includes vintage footage of Pete as well the story of how it all came about.  

http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2014/07/30/pete-seegers-letters

MM & McEuen

Here are my musical heroes with whom I've had the pleasure of working with over the past few months.   Top row is John McEuen, founder of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band smiling with me and then playing my 107 year old banjo.  We had a little time before his performance in Milwaukee.   Next to him, I'm with Tony Trischka up at the Midwest Banjo camp.  Brilliant musician and banjo pioneer.  

In the second row is my choir, the Passages World Music Choir who are kids from my neighborhood in Chicago.   And the lower right hand corner picture is Darol Anger, violinist extraordinaire who was the first violinist in the David Grisman Quintet with Tony Rice and Mike Marshall.   These days he's at the Berklee College of Music.   We did a Creativity Workshop in Sedona AZ.  

 

  

Friday, March 28, there was a Tribute to Pete Seeger at SPACE in Evanston.  It was a beautiful night featuring all these fine musicians.   I had the grand opportunity to tell a few stories, sing with Sue Demel and Deborah Lader of the Sons of the Never Wrong.   Fred Simon was playing piano with us as well.  At the end the evening there was a grand finale of How Can I Keep From Singing and If I Had A Hammer.  These fine photos were all taken by my friend Chuck Osgood.  Pete Seeger touched the entire world. 

President Jimmy Carter was in my Chicago neighborhood, signing his new and powerful book, "A Call To Action."   It is about the mistreatment of women, often in the name of religion, across the entire world.   

I had a five second conversation with him that went like this:

"Mr President," I said, "the last time we were in the same room was 1975 when you were a candidate."

He looked up and smiled and said, "And we both looked much younger then, didn't we."

The world is a much better place with Jimmy Carter in it.  

Mayor Daley playing banjo  

Here's Mayor Richard M. Daley playing my Stelling banjo, while former Old Town School board president Fred Lieber watches in wonder.  Mayor Daley and the City of Chicago gave the Hild Public Library (a 60,000 square foot building which had been closed for years) to the Old Town School for $1.  I always felt that this was one of the greatest endorsements ever of the work we did there.  Jim Hirsch was the ED at time who led the organization then.  These pictures are from 1996, but just today did I find them thanks to my friend Mary Peterson.

 


Click here to read or hear the recent interview on NPR with Michael Miles and harmonica legend Corky Siegel.   Over the past few years Michael has been collaborating on regular basis with Corky and his amazing Chamber Blues String Quartet---as well as Frank Donaldson playing East Indian tabla, and when possible the Sons of the Never Wrong.  

 

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