The style of MiZ, has been described as a fusion of folk, rock, bluegrass and blues; in short a melting pot blended into what would best be categorized as â€œpure Americana.â€ The groupsâ€™ founder, lead guitarist and singer/songwriter Mike Mizwinski, comes from Northeastern Pennsylvania, an area long known for its rich and vibrant talent.
Mike literally comes from a musical family, as his parents met in college where they were both studying music. At an early age they instilled in their young son an admiration and appreciation for the arts. Given his first guitar at the age of 2, Mike states: â€œI knew at a very early age I wanted to play the guitar but it was when my Dad took me to my first Grateful Dead show (at the age of nine) that I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my lifeâ€.
Mike joined his first band at the age of 15 and began writing his own music. Ironically enough, at the age of 18 while attending a college in Florida, which he felt would help him achieve his goals, Mikeâ€™s life was side tracked by a battle with drug addiction. What followed were years of struggle ending finally with a delicate victory and promise that would one day define MiZ.
In 2003 Mike moved back to Pennsylvania. While continuing to play with local bands he began working on his solo career. In 2008 he was spotted by the international touring band Gongzilla. As bassist Hansford Rowe expressed, he could see that â€œMike could play viscerally and also sing, making for a cross-pollination of genres.â€ He was invited to join the band where his first gig was at the Troubadour in LA . During his time with Gongzilla he had the opportunity to play alongside members of Zappa, moe. Umphreyâ€™s McGee, Particle, Crosby, Stills & Nash.
Wanting to form his own band to showcase his original music, Mike used Gongzilla's hiatus as an opportunity to form MiZ. Since itâ€™s inception in 2010, MiZ has had the opportunity to open for such acts as Derek Trucks, Bob Dylan, Shawn Colvin, Leon Russell, Blue Oyster Cult, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Railroad Earth, Blues Traveler and more. In addition to MiZ, Mike currently he plays with Jam Stampede (former members of the Zen Tricksters) and Garcia Grass. Becoming well know for guitar skills and solid jams Mikeâ€™s live performances are what brings fans back every time. Mike has been afforded the opportunity to share the stage with Garth Hudson (The Band), Jackie Greene, Michael Glablicki (Rusted Root), Mark Ford (Black Crowes), Marco Benevento, Umphrey's McGee, Jeff Pevar, Don Preston (Frank Zappa and the Mothers), Merl Saunders, plus members of String Cheese Incident, Particle, and moe.
East Hope Avenue has been years in the making. It is a collection of original songs written from Mikeâ€™s experiences over the past decade. Accompanying Mike on the CD is the talent of Freeman White, (Donna Jean Godchaux), Brett Alexander (Badlees), AJ Jump and Bill Stetz, East Hope Avenue includes a variety other musicians Mike has played with over the years, along with guest appearances by Buddy Cage (New Riders), John Graboff (Ryan Adams and the Cardinals), Gordon Stone and Eva Katherine. East Hope Avenue is to due be released October first.
He has a fine voice, the arrangements are tight, varied, and take unexpected turns every now and then. Good musicianship all the way around! Looking at the credits I took notice of the instruments played: pedal steel, baritone mandolin, upright bass, fiddle, fender rhodes, cello, to name a few. An eclectic mix. It speaks highly of the musicianship required to bring them into a good light. Musicians love music. Seems obvious, but often it's not. These folks can really play, write, and interact in ways that point to a deep appreciation and understanding of a musical landscape in which they were brought up and inspired by. It's the tradition of sharing your voice, influences, and having something to say, while maintaining your originality. The evidence is all there in their music. I say, well done!
-Bill Payne, Little Feat (on the new album)