Mike McKay Band
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Mike McKay Band

Syracuse, New York, United States | INDIE

Syracuse, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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Mike McKay Band @ Orange Line Theatre at Jazz Central

Syracuse, New York, USA

Syracuse, New York, USA

Mike McKay Band @ Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2)

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

Mike McKay Band @ Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (Syracuse)

Syracuse, New York, USA

Syracuse, New York, USA



Mike McKay channels romantic ruptures into song material for his new EP

Sitting in a recliner at MBR Studios in Baldwinsville, Mike McKay listens to “Fortress,” the title track off his unreleased album, for the first time. A broad grin crosses his face as the final chorus explodes from the speakers, filled with choir-like harmonies and soulful piano. “It’s like my other songs in one way,” he says after the number ends. “It’s about a girl.”

Mike McKay Band: Offering a sneak peek at the new album Saturday at the Redhouse.
Rebeccasphotography.com photo
Four years ago McKay had his heart broken, so he learned to play guitar. Last spring, it happened again, so he wrote an album. Fortress, the debut EP by the singer-songwriter’s band is scheduled for release on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The five-track EP is his first with the newly assembled Mike McKay Band and on Saturday, Feb. 18, they’ll celebrate with an album release concert at 8 p.m. at the Redhouse Arts Center, 201 S. West St. Various ticket packages are available for $10, $20 or $30, with more information available at theredhouse.org or by calling 425-0405.

After McKay picked up a guitar for the first time to get through a tough breakup in 2007, he started writing songs about love (and the lack thereof) and performing them in front of small audiences. He spent a few years playing open mikes and coffee shops to develop his sound. Then, in January 2011, he decided to take his solo act on the road.

McKay traveled to 40 cities along the East Coast, playing booked gigs, open mikes and bars as far south as Nashville. He traveled alone and couch-surfed his way through city after city. “Two or three nights a week I ended up sleeping in the back of my Jeep,” he says. While bad for his back, the grassroots tour did wonders for his songwriting. “I wrote ‘Imaginary Stop Signs’ {a song off Fortress} while illegally parked on Broadway in Nashville,” he says. “And it’s one of my favorite songs.” That one is about a girl as well.

After returning to Central New York last May, McKay’s relationship (which had more or less weathered the four-month tour) began to disintegrate. The ensuing breakup inspired Fortress. “The opening line of the album goes, ‘There’s a diamond ring in my dresser drawer that belongs to a girl who’s not around anymore,’” he says. “That’s all true.”

All five songs on McKay’s new EP were written about said girl, with whom McKay has had a somewhat rocky relationship. Music has proved his productive way of dealing with girl problems. “I look at it this way: If it {the relationship} works out I’ll be happy for the rest of my life. If it doesn’t, then I’ll have album material for the rest of my life. It’s a win-win. I don’t care if I’m sad as long as the music is going well.”

And so far, the music is going well. McKay started adding members to his one-man act in May 2011. He initially incorporated Brad Moehringer on percussion and Dan Deming on rhythm guitar to form the Mike McKay Trio. Drummer Brandon Morse joined just in time to play Taste of Syracuse. Justin Costello (guitar and piano) and Brian Cooney (bass) came on board in August and the Mike McKay Band was born.

The additional musicians enhanced the live performances dramatically. “In today’s industry there are a million singer-songwriters,” McKay says. “Every one of us sounds like some white dude with a guitar.” The full band allows McKay to showcase his songs with more than just his voice and some acoustic chords.

Meanwhile, in the studio, McKay teamed up with local producer Mike Roberts, owner of MRB Studios. Roberts discovered McKay while hosting an open mike night at Lake Effect in Baldwinsville four years ago. “He had such a cool voice,” Roberts says. “He just didn’t know it yet.” Roberts and McKay focus that voice on Fortress, crafting tunes that feature McKay’s singing and highlight his songwriting abilities. The result is a series of tempo-driven pop tunes with lively bass lines and irresistibly catchy hooks.

Between studio sessions, the Mike McKay Band began making regular appearances at Sharkey’s Eclectic Sports Lounge in Liverpool and packing the house at every gig. McKay has earned a reputation for his energetic performances as well as his habit of playing barefoot. “I’ve never played a show with shoes on,” he says. “I feel more connected with the earth that way.”

The freewheeling, barefoot-playing guitarist sounds like your average doobie-smoking hippie. McKay, however, is anything but. The 24-year-old abstains from drugs as harmless as Motrin and has never touched a drink. At bar gigs he orders a root beer and peels the label off the brown bottle. “A dude at a bar needs a bottle in his hand,” he says. “But I don’t drink beer. I’ve always been able to have too good a time without it.” - Syracuse New Times

If you’re looking for music that moves beyond your ears and appeals to your soul, look no further than Mike Mckay. This singer/songwriter wears his heart on his guitar strings and proves that musicians can still become one with their instruments. With his candid lyrics Mike uses his own heartbreak to make you still believe in the power of love. His enthusiasm and passion for his music seeps into the hearts of his fans. At his shows you can’t help but feel as though he’s singing to you as if you were the only person in the room. His desire to leave you with a smile gives a personal touch to his performances and never fails to entertain. In a world of music full of effects, Mike Mckay needs only his voice and a guitar to make you feel that even in the darkest of days music can shine through and give you a reason to smile. - Brad Moehringer, for "The Merciad" College newspaper Mercyhurst

Central New York singer-songwriter Mike McKay’s perseverance is paying off. In a big way. Last weekend, the native of Baldwinsville had his first showcase in Manhattan. He is also finishing off his debut EP at The Hollow studio in Lakeland. You can catch Mark Bialczak’s interview with McKay and McKay’s acoustic performance of his song “Better Than Last” as this week’s installments of our video series at www.syracuse.com/music.

Here's my interview with McKay. - Syracuse.com


"Standing Still" Self recorded EP, May 2010
"Fortress" - EP, February 2012



A singer/songwriter from Syracuse, NY, Mike McKay is a musician that will not be ignored. He began writing and performing music in the summer of 2008 to local venues, and quickly became addicted to the high of playing to bigger and bigger crowds. His passion for the music he creates runs deep and true and within minutes of him playing you quickly become drawn into the power and intensity that he brings with him to the stage.

Behind the powerful frontman lies an equally incredible band; a who's who of Central New York musicians that have all joined together to create an unstoppable force.

Dan Deming, a very successful solo singer/songwriter in his own right, joined forces with Mike in 2011 to provide harmonies and consistency with his brilliant and intricate rhythm guitar work.

Brandon Morse, a journeyman who found his permanent home driving the dance inducing beats that ignite the flame in the audience the MMB draws all over the Northeast. Brandon also joined the band in 2011.

Justin Costello, a child prodigy now 18 years old is a gifted guitarist with a sixth sense for making songs come alive with melody from the instrumentalists. Justin joined the band early 2011.

Brian Cooney is a classically trained guitarist, converted into a Bassist for this band. The result are bass lines that flow beautifully throughout every song hand crafted by the band. Brian has been a member of the Mike McKay Band since 2011.