Mike Brosnan
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Mike Brosnan

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The best kept secret in music

Press


"BROSNAN ON THE ROAD AGAIN"

At the age of 54, singer-songwriter Mike Brosnan is in his musical prime. Retirement is not in his five-year plan. He plays up to 200 shows a year and his silky finger-picking skills and slide guitar playing have a healthy following in Europe.

The Rotorua-born Roots Music artist is back for another tour, while also producing material for a sixth album. "Why can't you play concerts when you are 60? The Rolling Stones do," he says from a mobile phone in his campervan, his hotel/tour bus during the 16-concert, six-week tour. "They claimed they would never play beyond 30. I'm not suggesting I'm in the same class as The Stones, but I don't think age is an issue any more."

It's no wonder Brosnan is not ready to part ways with his guitar and take early retirement.
He's part of the re-emergence of interest in Roots Music, or Americana as it is known in the United States, with artists finding success with a blend of country, blues and folk. Music produced by the likes of Dwight Yoakam, John Hiatt, J.J. Cale and more recently the John Butler Trio from Australia, who have struggled for definition in the past, and are now finding success as Roots Music artists.

For the past decade, Brosnan has been based in Europe and has carved out a strong fanbase in Germany, where he resides with his wife and tour manager, Henriette.

Brosnan originally settled in England, but struggled to find success as a blues musician. "When I was still living in London I was touring throughout Europe, but I was becoming famous nowhere because I was doing too few concerts in too many places," he says. His move to Germany in 2000 and a re-branding as a singer-songwriter culminated in him playing 211 gigs that year.

As a result he now has a loyal following – Google search “Mike Brosnan” and you'll find as many German-language web pages about him as English ones. "The German fans are crazy; I have people drive 600 miles to see me play," says Brosnan. "As a Kiwi I find it hard to deal with support like this, because I like to keep a low profile."

Brosnan's focus on being a singer-songwriter resulted in his 2002 album Wasted Time - his first completely original release.

"The songs I'm writing now tend to be from a middle-aged person's point-of-view. I think middle-aged people find that interesting and attractive. You can't keep writing songs about being a schoolboy when you are 60."

Brosnan's popularity has spread to Australia and the US. His fourth album, “Streets of Glass” is currently prominent on American roots radio stations.

"This was an album that is five or six years old and which the blues followers hated. But it's generated a lot of interest as a roots album in North America, we just don't have time to tour there this year. A pity really…"

However the Mike Brosnan roadshow is likely to hit the US and Australia next year, which will probably mean he won't be able to tour his beloved homeland in 2005.

But he has plans to return home and buy property in Southland, with the hope of improving his trout fishing ability. "Right now, I wouldn't change my life for anything," he says. "I think I'm the luckiest guy in the world."
- By Tim Lamb, NZ Herald, Auckland, New Zealand


"MIKE BROSNAN AT THE ALTE BAHNHOF, GEMÜNDEN, GERMANY"

The "Alter Bahnhof" began this year’s cultural program with a high quality concert. More than 150 visitors were manifestly delighted by the first appearance of the New Zealander Mike Brosnan in the Wohra city.

Mike Brosnan gave the full bandwidth of emotion with his songs. In titles such as "Long Gone" "Tuatapere" or "Good Liquor, Bad Company" he also spoke of social themes and human kismet.

Brosnan is the sole representative of that special style of "Downunder Blues:" a mixture of classical blues influences and New Zealand inspiration. This stunning guitarist has been living in Germany since 2000. He has already made a name for himself in France, Austria and Great Britain and is fast making one for himself here in Germany.

And while he played in Gemünden as a solo artist, he also tours either with a second guitarist or with his full band.

Brosnan is the only NZ musician who tours every year on international blues, folk and rock stages. His festival apprearances, which range from Edinburgh to Hong Kong are almost uncountable. And his music seems to fit into any genre.
But that he is also able to have fun at smaller gigs was clearly proven at the "Alte Bahnhof." The direct contact to the audience has its own thrill, he told this reporter. He also mentioned that he very-much like the warm-heartedness of people in smaller towns.

Indeed the emotions of the musician completely took over the audience... the entire audience was into his music with body and soul. He clearly believes every word he sings, and so did we...

Our long applause received it’s reward in a number of encores, including the emotion-filled ballad "The Water is Wide" and ending with "That Ain’t No Way to Get Along".

Brosnan later said that he very much enjoyed both the atmosphere, and the feeling from the audience in the sold-out ex-warehouse. Certainly Mike Brosnan has taken his place in the cultural life of both the Wohra city and the region.
- reviewed in the ’Frankenburger Zeitung,’


"MIKE BROSNAN IN CONCERT AT THE WAS DAS THEATRE; POSTFELD, GERMANY"

He stood like a solitary oak, beating notes from the vibrating strings of his white acoustic guitar. And when he took breath to bellow (in true Dylan-esque style...) his wild – romantic – love inspired – whisky heavy lyrics into the microphone, the classic blues celebrated a sparkling rebirth.

Mike Brosnan, the Grand Master of Downunder Blues was the latest guest in a series of Blue Monday concerts at the Was Das Theater in Postfeld. The over-capacity audience experienced sensations of burning ears and electric-like shocks though their bodies, all delivered courtesy of the guitarist-artist with the flying fingers.

Using seemingly random, but in fact precisely structured pads of sound and emotion-drenched, crying slide guitar that unlike many, never degenerated into sonic mush, this most professional of musician’s electrified fingertips sent shivers down our collective spines in as fine an example of clean pick’n, knuckle crack’n, and rock n’ rollin’ guitar as one could possibly imagine.
Throughout the three and one half hour concert Brosnan wove his very special magic over his audience effortlessly, with picked, stroked, or contrapuntal passages; and with his highly individual staccato intros and swinging ragtime.

We felt ethereal homages to Irish folk and a Brosnan-typical interpretation of a classic blues swell over us, part of a seeming never-ending stream of rhythm, blues, emotion, and then once again, blues. He sang of truck driving; of love; and of his grandfather. And of New Zealand, of Ireland; of homesickness; and of humour. And with each syllable the purity of the question, and the taking of passion from the blues passed through every note, indeed through every pore of his songs.

Explosively different yet at the same time familiar, he spun a musical web that exuded a potent mixture of bar atmosphere, campfire singing, and rock and roll. The audience floated on his musical cloud, where they could clearly see glimpses of the old blues masters, Springsteen and even the Ramones peeking out from between the individual notes of this extraordinarily talented musician, of whom the audience clearly could not get enough. They refused to allow him to leave without several encores.

- by Jessica Mielke, ’Kieler Nachrichten’


"MIKE BROSNAN AT THE HARBOUR LIGHT THEATRE, CHRISTCHURCH, NZ"

My premonition was: “OH NO… not another night of twelve-bar blues…?” But Brosnan’s concert had not one trace of tedium. There were a handful of three-chord songs but they were interspersed with such a variety of others, and delivered in such a range of guitar styles and tunings that the audience was held by the ears until the final encore.

Mike Brosnan, a Kiwi of Irish heritage, shows that any competent musician who becomes immersed in the traditions that produced Blind Blake, Leadbelly and John Lee Hooker can re-emerge performing blues-influenced music with all the feeling or “soul,” all the guts and gusto that any audience could wish for.

Brosnan sings with an accurate and colourful voice, and plays acoustic guitar with a big-bodied amplification in a range of sliding and picking styles. He sings as though he means the words and his instrumental verses never repeat themselves.

His patter shows that he is in touch with his audience. His introductions are informative and entertaining with anecdotes about the background of his songs or incidents from Brosnan’s tours abroad.
- by Neil McLeod, Christchurch Press


"BENEATH SOUTHLAND SKIES (Album review)"

Mike Brosnan’s story is not a special one. Sadly. And it is a story that should make every lover of authentic handcrafted music think long and hard, especially as it is still occurring too often in today’s music business.

The man from New Zealand has in recent years released one album after the other, as a bandleader or as a solo artist – and while they were moderately successful, relatively few people benefited from his art. He’s never made it really big, which is the real pity as Brosnan has everything it takes to boost listeners on this side of the northern sea with an emotional fix.

“Beneath Southland Skies“ is a wonderful work of strong, melancholic musical ideas, and with a comfortably laid-back sound. Here the gentleman with the Kojak-style haircut is using every treasure and recipe of the fine art of handmade songwriting including acoustic and slide guitar, harmonica and piano.

The warm songs take a deep look into the soul and touch it, decomposing the omnipresent grief by using simple but touching songwriting ideas and sympathetic guitar work. It’s absolutely clear why often, and rightfully, parallels between Brosnan and the legendary Ry Cooder are drawn.

Brosnan moves in his own blend of rock, folk, country and blues, omitting any unnecessary flourishes; in a world of his own, and yet at the same time in today’s rediscovery of roots music; in today’s sucked out old style country music genre; and the remorseless overdoing of the singer/songwriter myth.

On his island Mike Brosnan probably won’t care too much about all this as long as the rest of the world takes serious notice of his music. And there is so much one might miss: The heart-melting “Be With You,” the heartbreaking harmonica in “Dave Said” or the sorrowful “Never Thought I’d Cry.”

And that’s just the way it is: Until now I (and anyone else who doesn’t feel like listening to this album) couldn’t have imagined how much I would have missed not being able to hear the dozen songs on “Beneath Southland Skies.“
- By Bastian Streitberger, SellFish Magazine, Germany


"BENEATH SOUTHLAND SKIES (Album review)"

Mike is a New Zealander of Irish heritage and lives in Germany. He’s “lived the life,” seen much, and experienced life’s swings and roundabouts. And he probably has a rocking chair somewhere, from which he fires his songs out into a world that doesn’t really care too much about them!

And probably more than one reader, when seeing the words “Rock and Folk,” “Blues and Country” all together describing his music, will not care too much either!

Because here in Germany it smacks strongly of those “posers” who give, without being asked, stupid tips in guitar shops, and play music for drunken parties in beer tents at town festivals...

Mike Brosnan on the other hand is totally authentic.

His vocal delivery reminds me strongly of John Hiatt. And with his bruised worldliness his songs would fit perfectly on Hiatt’s “Walk On” album.

These are - please understand me correctly - not bad comparisons, for they refer to the narrow acceptable path through the ever-present swamp of kitsch and greasiness.

“Beneath Southland Skies” has good songs, is intimate at the right places and is exhilarated in others, and never drowns in emotionalism.

And thankfully one can merely sense Mike’s Irish roots, possibly because the alcohol-drenched drinker’s soul presents itself purified.

“HEY! I’ve got a story to tell boy. Where’s that rocking chair. Sit down, and listen to what I say, dammit!”

- “One Take Magazine” Germany


"BENEATH SOUTHLAND SKIES (Album review)"

Mike Brosnan does not only share his name with Pierce Brosnan but he has Irish roots as well. Apart from this they have nothing in common. Mike Brosnan is a New Zealander and a guitar player based in Germany, moving in the genre of traditional guitar music, inspired by Ry Cooder and south coast rock music.

Handmade songs and straight acoustic statements with a timeless and ever valid ’68-rock appeal are Brosnan’s strength and trademark. Blues, folk and rock and as well the Celtic sounds of his ancestors are his musical motor. A simple, very honest and un-blurred view of the world and here too such songs and lyrics are his capital.

Brosnan has a reputation as a splendid guitar player who, since eons ago has played more than 200 concerts a year, appearing in little clubs and cafés the world over, giving enjoyable evenings to those who love acoustic music made with steel strings and bottleneck. One has to like this sound of homemade music and to be honest not everybody does. Depending on the listener’s mood, Brosnan has the ability to make time stand still with his special kind of music.

Brosnan’s songs have a self -sufficient strength which attracts fans of other musical genres as well. Ballads for example, like the endlessly sad “Be with you”, which beautifully emphasises Brosnan’s baritone, the acoustic “Long gone” or the humorous country-folk song “Dave said…” Home cooking can taste wonderful!
- Reviewed in CNET, Germany


Discography

Beneath Southland Skies (2006)

Wasted Time (2002)

Streets of Glass (1998)

Downunder Blues (1996)

On A High Wire (1995)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

An expatriate New Zealander of Irish heritage, Mike Brosnan is a true craftsman of song, a powerful and emotive singer, and a superb guitarist. His instrumental lines perfectly support his emotive voice and his slide guitar playing is considered a highlight with comparisons often drawn with Ry Cooder’s best work.

Despite extensive international touring, for much of his early career he maintained a relatively low profile in the wider musical world. Working away from the spotlight, every year or so he would release a new recording, each of which was well received within the broad circle of contemporary acoustic music.

This lack of wider recognition was in all probability due the music industry's inability to “pigeon hole” his music, containing as it does such diverse influences; from Rock to Folk, from Blues to Celtic to Country, and all with a distinctive but hard to define New Zealand flavour.

With the recent re-emergence of interest worldwide in Roots/Americana music, containing exactly these influences, this anachronism is now quickly being addressed and for the last 3-4 years Brosnan has increasingly received the level of recognition he is manifestly due.

An incendiary live show only added to the buzz, but it is the songs – combined with Brosnan’s ability put himself inside them body and soul – that leaves the strongest impression. As a songwriter he presents a level of lyrical honesty and vulnerability seldom found.

A reviewer recently attended a Mike Brosnan solo concert in Germany - sceptical of the acclaim surrounding his work - and walked away a believer: “The audience was completely overcome by Brosnan’s emotions... we were into his music body and soul. He clearly believes every word he sings, and so did we...’’ (Frankenberger Zeitung)

From solo performer to full bandleader Brosnan has journeyed throughout the UK, Asia, Continental Europe and NZ; from small cafés to the best-known clubs, from the smoky bars to concert halls His festival appearances include many of Europe and NZ’s most prestigious. And the experience gained playing 200 plus concerts per year for more than a decade has forged his live performance into one of the strongest shows on the road anywhere, any time.

To see what ignites his audience’s one only need listen to the songs from his current album "Beneath Southland Skies" that are accompanying this Electronic Press Kit. This is the definitive Mike Brosnan.

As a recent album reviewer wrote: “Do yourself and the New Zealand music scene a favour by buying this Cd. And then go out and see him live for the full story!”