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Michael Messer
 
 
 
 
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Michael Messer
“King Guitar” and “Second Mind”
Reissued on Cooking Vinyl Records

“What I hear here is the real thing. Bare-bones blues gut-bucket rural rock …” – Johnny Cash

"Michael Messer's poignant Drivin' Wheel Blues Part One is equalled only by Part Two, and while his playing, with its echoes of Blind Willie Johnson, is always spot on, it's Messer's vocals which are the real revelation: heartfelt and pained, full of trial and struggle just like the best blues. If he were American he'd be right behind Eric Bibb & Alvin Youngblood Heart in the hipness sweepstakes." - Q / King Guitar review

“To say that Michael Messer is a slide guitarist is like describing Mother Theresa as a nun! He’s one of the finest slide guitarists and blues music innovators that Britain has ever produced” - Time Out / King Guitar review

“Moby eat your heart out. This is the best British blues album of the 21st century so far."

- What’s On In London / Second Mind review

“Michael Messer is one of the most important bluesmen in Britain and mightily relevant throughout the blues world. He has progressed from being an excellent technician - on the National Steel especially, to being in the vanguard of the 21st century blues. And that doesn't mean he has forsaken traditional values either. A beautiful amalgam of history and foresight; musicality and grit; blues, boogie and beats - Second Mind is a work of near genius.” – Blues Matters / Second Mind review

“Messer can handle a slide guitar like a true 1920s hero, but Second Mind is more than that: it's an old-meets-nu blues tour de force that gives full reign to our man's love of pop, rock and, frankly, spooky shit. Electric guitars rage over loop/dub backdrops, lovely, liquid acoustic figures recall slide kings of yore, vocals plumb the dark side like Tom Waits or Johnny Dowd, the band swerve from boogie to funk to ambient with nonchalant ease - and it all hangs together just right.” - Guitar / Second Mind - Albums of the Year 2002

Originally released in 2001, King Guitar established Messer as one of the most respected slide guitarists and roots music innovators around. Receiving critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, the album reached number one in the US Living Blues chart and in May of that year, it was the most played album on US college radio. King Guitar features 16 tracks, 10 of which are originally compositions, and showcases Messers blues recordings and interpretations, clearly illustrates why he merits an entry in the Virgin Encyclopedia of the Blues, which describes his music as ‘an outstanding distillation of blues and contemporary music’.

Second Mind, recorded and released in 2002 followed the widespread success of King Guitar. Deeply rooted in and inflected with the blues, this highly anticipated and critically acclaimed album features Messer’s regular band, plus the great Ruby Turner on backing vocals. DJ Louie Genis, who previously worked with Messer in 1995, cut loose and played on the whole album, creating a sound that was both totally contemporary and very traditional. The album won the Best Blues Guitar Album at the 2003 International Guitar Federation awards, beating other nominees including Chris Rea, Sonny Landreth and Eric Bibb.

 
 


 
 
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Michael Messer is a virtuoso slide guitarist who has one of the best bands performing some of the greatest blues music produced this century. His playing encompasses the entire history of the blues and is totally individual and contemporary. His use of turntables in the band adds a new element to the music. The American magazine, ‘Spirit’ listed Messer as one of the greatest slide guitarists ever, alongside Duane Allman and Ry Cooder. Messer creates music which is highly individual, original and universally accessible.

Michael Messer was born in Middlesex in 1956. Throughout his childhood and teens he played rock music with his two brothers and in various local bands. In his early twenties, he spent time in Nashville where he had the chance to meet and hear some of the ‘greats’ of country music performing in their home environment. Among others these included Roy Acuff, Hank Snow and Johnny Cash. Back home in England in the late seventies, Messer was mastering the art of Mississippi delta blues slide guitar, buying his first National steel guitar in 1979. He began playing blues gigs, both as a solo artist and in various local bands in the early eighties.

In 1983 he met Ed Genis and they began playing music together, a partnership that has lasted for the past two decades. During that year, Messer started gigging regularly with British blues singer, Mike Cooper, and through him he got known on the folk and blues circuit. In 1984, Cooper asked him to play slide guitar on The Continuous Preaching Blues, an album he was recording with Ian Anderson (now editor of fROOTS).

The Michael Messer Band was formed in 1985 and they cut their first album, Diving Duck, in 1987 which received some fantastic reviews.

In 1989 Messer produced and played on an album with the legendary Venice Beach busker, Ted Hawkins, called I Love You Too, which was later re-released as Nowhere to Run. In that same year he became friends with the late S.E. Rogie and produced some tracks for his New Sounds of S.E .Rogie album.

Messer’s second album Slidedance was released in 1990, and one year later, he was voted Acoustic Blues Artist of the Year at the BBC Awards.

Rhythm Oil, a trio album with songwriter Terry Clarke and Texas guitar ace, Jesse ‘Guitar’ Taylor, was released in 1993. The CD boasts sleeve notes written by the late Johnny Cash, a rare honour shared with Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson. “What I hear here is the real thing - Bare-bones blues gut-bucket rural rock. This record carried me away to a long time ago, down a delta dirt road to a land of my musical good-old-daysing. PS…Don't squeeze the trigger, if you can't stand the recoil.” Johnny Cash

1995 saw the release of Moonbeat, which featured a mixture of world music and blues, as well as DJ Louie Genis (son of rhythm guitarist Ed) scratching old blues vinyl, a practice that became popular a few years later with the likes of Little Axe, Moby and R.L. Burnside.

In 1999, Messer went to Alberta to record with Canadian guitarist/songwriter Doug Cox. One of Cox’s songs from the sessions, Cold When I’m Dead, which features Messer playing electric slide guitar, can be heard in the latest Terry Gilliam movie Tideland.

In 2001 Messer released King Guitar, a compilation album comprising of sixteen tracks from back catalogue. The album received critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, reached number one in the US Living Blues chart and in May 2001 was the most played album on US college radio.

Second Mind, recorded and released in 2002 followed the widespread success of King Guitar. This highly anticipated and critically acclaimed album featured Messer’s regular band, plus the great Ruby Turner on backing vocals. DJ Louie Genis came back into the fold and this time instead of working on one or two tracks, he cut loose and played on the whole album, creating a sound that was both totally contemporary and very traditional. The album won the Best Blues Guitar Album at the 2003 International Guitar Federation awards, beating other nominees including Chris Rea, Sonny Landreth and Eric Bibb.

Messer signed to Cooking Vinyl in 2005, and will be releasing his new album, Lucky Charms, in February 2006. Recorded and mixed the old way with no digital trickery or computers, just reels of tape, live performances, an old mixing desk and a lot of patience. The album features ten original songs. Louie Genis, now very much a part of the Michael Messer sound, is scratching and texturing with loops, old vinyl and home made samples, and the music has a more acoustic feel to it than Second Mind. Ed Genis is playing rhythm guitar, Richard Causon (who has worked with Ryan Adams, Jayhawks, Kings of Leon, Sugababes, Keane and Alanis Morissette) is on keyboards. Jerry Soffe (who has worked with Robert Wyatt, Innes Sibun and Larry Garner) is on bass and Simon Price (who has worked with Chuck Berry, Jamie Cullum and Annette Peacock) is on the drums.

 
 
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