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New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Solo Americana Acoustic


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"In the BUZZ – Pennsylvania’s Americana Bohemian – Mike MiZ"

Written by Gina Tutko
PA Music Scene.com
February 2011

His dedication to the genre of music called “Americana” is only part of what sets Mike Mizwinski apart from other artists. As a self-described bohemian, Mike MiZ (MiZ as he is known) refers to his musical style as a “blend of rock, soul and Americana.” His career path is evolving along the lines of many of the members of the classic American folk bands. Because they love what they do, they will join together for a song, an album, a concert or a spontaneous ‘jam session’ just because they all groove together and respect each other as musicians.

Mike was already seasoned in music, displaying his talents by the age of six. By the time he was twelve, he was writing his own songs. At the age of 16, his first band was The Appalachian Barnhouse Band. By that age, he credits his inspiration to “the divine universal intelligence,” and says he feels his goal in the music world is to “to inspire people and to therefore assist the awakening of human consciousness.” He loves both acoustic and electric guitar equally. He is also still busy with Gongzilla, the jazz fusion band that is one of the first groups he started playing with years ago. He prefers that the opinions of others not deter the path he is on. Though Mike does not detract from messages of political or spiritual nature, his music is not meant to send a message. “I don’t want people to be thinking about any of that while listening to my music,” he said. His first album, Madness in My Mind, was released in 2007.

MiZ can be identified with numerous bands, a frequent guest to others and a soloist as well. He is a core part of the Americana scene, one we are luckily able to enjoy thoroughly in Pennsylvania. There is a large group of excellent experienced musicians who work together on projects all the time.

As a member of several of the best acts we have around, he is also a part of two tribute bands, Jam Stampede (a Grateful Dead tribute) and Garcia Grass which is a new bluegrass project featuring members of Cabinet, Hickory Project and Stone Poets. Garcia Grass will be doing a short winter tour in a few days.

MiZ is no stranger to national acts as well having opened for Blues Traveler, Derek Trucks Band and Leon Russell. Over the last five years he has played with the likes of Merle Saunders, Chuck Garvey, Al Schnier, Charlie Hitchcock & Ben Combe, Jason Hann (String Cheese Incident), Michael Glabicki (Rusted Root) and more. His loves and influences include jazz, bluegrass, swing, old school country, and more. Mike’s current favorite song is “Heels of the Day” although he says “I’m sure that will change soon.” He’d love to play with Dave Matthews because of the amount of people he draws and the wide range of ages in the fan base and he admires Ryan Adams. “Ryan Adams is my favorite songwriter of the new millennium,” he says. However, when asked who has been his biggest inspiration, musically or otherwise, he replied simply, “My amazing family.”

When it comes to lessons learned MiZ says, “I always try to keep a clear head and be respectful to everyone I meet; you never know who you are talking to. The band that may have opened for you (and sucked) may be selling out Giant Stadium in 10 years.”

Mike MiZ has a new live, solo acoustic album, Live at Downtown Arts which was just released a few weeks ago. The concert was held on Thanksgiving Eve of 2010 in a theatre called Downtown Arts located at 47 North Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre (former First United Methodist Church) to a crowd of over 200 music lovers. Local promoters were skeptical about a show which served no alcohol at the venue but it turned out to be a huge success. The album is a benefit for the new River Common Amphitheater in downtown Wilkes-Barre and is also being used to raise funds for a new studio album set to be released next month. The studio album will feature Jon Graboff from Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Buddy Cage (played on Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, member of New Riders of the Purple Sage) and Gordon Stone, best known for his playing on Phish’s Rift and Picture of Nectar albums.

I am sure you can catch a MiZ show at some point considering he performed 245 shows in 2010. Mike MiZ has played the following venues and festivals:

World Cafe Live Philly
Sullivan Hall NYC
8×10 Baltimore MD
Mexicali Blues Teaneck NJ
National Underground NYC
Tin Angel Philly
Rockwood Music Hall NYC
A Bear’s Picnic
Wormtown Music Festival
Strangecreek Music Festival
Camp Creek Music Festival
North Star Philly
Millennium Music Conference
Cape May Singer Songwriter Conference
Nectar’s Burlington VT
The Troubadour LA
The Sherman Theater Stroudsburg PA
The Rex Theater Pittsburgh
BB King’s (main stage) NYC
Brooklyn Bowl NYC
Live on 90.5 WJFF NY
Live on WNTI 91.9FM Hackettstown NJ
Sunshine Daydream Music Festival Terra Alta WV
The Chameleon Club Lancaster PA
Meeting of the Minds
Some Kind of Jam
River Street Jazz Cafe Wilkes-Barre PA
Live on WXLV 90.3 Lehigh Valley PA
Live on 88.5 WXPN Philly
Neighborhood Theater Charlotte NC
Lincoln Theater Raleigh NC
The Bitter End NYC
Toad’s Place New Haven CT
Three Rivers Progressive Rock Festival Pittsburgh
Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (emerging artist showcase)

and many more… - Pa Music Scene.com

"Celebrate Thanksgiving with Music"

Celebrate Thanksgiving with music
By Mary Therese Biebel mbiebel@timesleader.com
Features Writer

When a rainstorm drove his late-September concert indoors from the River Common to the Downtown Arts Building, singer/songwriter Mike Miz was completely charmed.

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Singer/songwriter Mike Miz will perform a free Thanksgiving Eve concert at the Downtown Arts building in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
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If you go
What: ‘Unplugged’ concert
Who: Mike Miz, Charles Havira and Kriki
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Downtown Arts, 47 N. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre
Admission: Free
“I absolutely love it,” he said of the former church in downtown Wilkes-Barre. “The acoustics in there are phenomenal. It’s the perfect place for an acoustic, solo concert.

That’s just what he’ll be doing on Wednesday evening, playing what he calls “Americana Soul,” his signature blend of bluegrass, blues, country and folk, during a Thanksgiving Eve music fest that doubles as a recording session.

While admission is free, proceeds of album sales will benefit the 2011 Open Mic outdoor concert series – the one on the nearby River Common – so the story comes full circle.

One of the things Miz likes about Downtown Arts, in addition to its acoustics and character, is the absence of a bar.

“I wanted to do something different,” he said. “Thanksgiving Eve is known as the biggest bar night of the year, the night everybody goes out. I wanted to do something where everybody would be welcome – young kids, the elderly, the young and the young at heart.”

Miz, 27, who grew up in Pittston, has a variety of original songs on his playlist, including a bluegrass number called “Canyon Echoes Glow,” inspired by the view of a sunset at Campbell’s Ledge.

The cliff was a spot where he and his friends, as teens, “were always up on the ledge, just walking and hiking and camping and having a good time.”

Continuing the theme of appreciating the outdoors, he’ll play a guitar instrumental called “Rope Swing,” which celebrates his memories of swinging, letting go of the rope and swimming at a reservoir in Maryland.

“That’s the Way My Mama Raised Me,” a tribute to Miz’s mother that was viewed 500 times in 48 hours once the video was on Facebook, also will be part of the evening. “My mom raised me to be honest and humble. That’s what I talk about,” Miz said. “She was also always very supportive of my music.”

The three-hour “unplugged” concert also will include sessions by musicians Charles Havira and Kriki.

“Unplugged is an event to celebrate the music. Period,” Karl Borton, director of River Common Programming and Outreach wrote in a press release. “It’s a party that centers on the entertainment instead of the bar scene and is an event where you can hang out with your friends and family.”

The project stems from an idea Miz had about a year ago.

“I was looking for a venue, and when I went into the Downtown Arts building, a lightbulb went off,” he said. “I thought, ‘This is the spot.’ ”

“Looking back now,” he added, “I’m glad it rained.”

In other Downtown Arts news, Bridget Giunta Husted is calling on arts-lovers to roll up their sleeves and help spruce up the place from 9 a.m. to noon tomorrow. Painting, spackling, cleaning, organizing and decorating are on the agenda, so people can have a chance to “give back to the place that gives so much.” - Times Leader

"New Year Finds Miz in Rapid Fire Form"

New year finds Miz in rapid-fire form
By Brad Patton bpatton@timesleader.com
Freelance Music Writer

Ever since first picking up a guitar at age 6, Mike Miz knew he wanted to be a musician.

“I’ve been at it as long as I could remember,” said Miz (born Michael Mizwinski), who grew up in Pittston and now lives in Scranton. “By the time I was 12, I had gone to see Dylan, the Dead and the Allman Brothers, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

Miz has been in more bands than he can remember and has been playing the local club scene for more than a dozen years, getting his start at age 16. After stints in local favorites Morning Pride and a Phish tribute band, he joined Gongzilla, a nationally known band, in 2007. That same year, he released his first solo recording, “The Madness in My Mind.”

A new album, “Live at Downtown Arts,” was released in December.

“Last year I played a gig north of Boston (on Thanksgiving Eve), and on the drive back I was thinking that we really need to do something in our area,” he said. “I had been scheduled to play the new River Common amphitheater in September, and when that got rained out, everything kind of fell into place to do this show at Downtown Arts on the day before Thanksgiving.

“And I had been searching for about a year for a venue to record a live, acoustic CD. When I went in there, I knew it was the place.”

The album is available digitally from iTunes or as a CD from his website, at his shows and at Gallery of Sound locations, and proceeds will benefit the River Common’s 2011 open-mic series.

“It is kind of a culmination of my career to this point,” he said.

For the past year, Miz has split his time between his solo work and a band called MiZ. The group started life as a duo, then a trio and now is a quintet consisting of Miz on guitar and vocals, Freeman White (piano), Kris Kehr (mandolin, harmonica and guitar), Bill Stetz (electric and upright bass) and A.J. Jump (drums).

The band, which plays what Miz calls “Americana soul with a lot of guitar,” is recording its first album.

“We’re in the studio right now, and we’re a little more than halfway done,” he said, noting the new record should be released in March. “We are really pushing to make this a big deal, and I am really excited to hear it taking shape.”

According to his website, Miz played 245 shows last year, either as a solo artist or with his band, and opened shows at Stroudsburg’s Sherman Theater for the Derek Trucks Band, Blues Traveler, Railroad Earth and Shawn Colvin.

This year is starting at the same breakneck pace, with a solo show tonight at Towers Bar & Restaurant in Fern Glen and a performance with Jam Stampede, a Grateful Dead tribute band, tomorrow night at the River Street Jazz Caf? in Plains Township. Miz will be back at River Street on Feb. 2 for a solo-acoustic show.

For more information on Mike Miz or to pick up a copy of “Live at Downtown Arts,” visit mikemizmusic.com. - The Times Leader

"Live Disc showcases Miz's talents"

by Matt Morgis

In today’s world it seems like less people sit down and read a good book. The next best thing may be Mike Miz’s “Live at Downtown Arts” album. He has great narratives inside his lyrics and outstanding guitar playing. Plus, it’s not often that a solo performer can play charming love songs while at the same time melt your face with flashy guitar solos, but Miz is able to do it.

Miz, a young local musician, starts off the record with a gem in “Wink.” The song has a great melody and grabs your attention right off the bat with a phenomenal guitar solo. Miz builds a motif with his guitar work; he constantly refers back to the same lick and keeps you guessing with where he will go next.

In other songs like “Broken Wheels” and “Slow You Down,” Miz tells a story with his lyrics about burdens in his past. In addition to his superb pop songwriting, Miz has a few folk and bluegrass songs on this album. “Canyon Echo’s Glow” is a great bluegrass song where Miz rips through some terrific guitar riffs, while “That’s the Way My Mama Raised Me” is an easy-listening folk song that tells a story of Miz’s childhood.

Miz finishes the CD with a quick blues song called “Brakes.” It’s a catchy song that mixes percussive strumming with a standard blues progression that can appeal to almost anyone’s ears. After each song, Miz leaves you in awe and you may want to clap and cheer just as much as the crowd that was there the night of the show in Wilkes-Barre. - The Weekender

"Valuable Lessons Learned"

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Valuable lessons learned, Mike Mizwinski returns
Sunday June 20, 2010 | 01:00 AM
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When he was a student at Pittston Area High School, Mike Mizwinski was slightly different from your normal teenager.

While most students were concentrating their time on academics and trying to find whatever sport they were best at, Mizwinski would stay home concentrating on his passion – writing and performing his own music.

About a decade later, that passion has thrived with Mizwinski and helped him become a highly recognized name in the local music scene and also garnered attention on the national level with stints in bands like Gongzilla and opening for perennial jam band favorites, moe and Derek Trucks.

Certainly a nice resume for someone who, just a decade ago, was simply another face at Pittston Area.

For someone who seemed to have a promising and real shot at becoming a widely successful national musician, Mizwinski’s current projects might seem a bit unordinary. Sure, he’s playing with several bands who are performing up and down the East Coast – Jam Stampede and Garcia Grass amongst others – but the guitarist takes the most pride in his semi-new “solo band” MiZ who will be performing at the Northeast Fair this Tuesday.

“I’ve been playing in bands since I was 16 and for the last ten years, I’ve been playing in all different projects – cover bands and other original bands,” he said. “The real reason MiZ came about is because all of my life I wanted to put together a band that was all my own music. When I was playing in the other bands, I was always writing my own music…The window finally opened, so I was like, ‘alright, I’m going to start my own band.’”

The strong point for any musician is not only crafting catchy music, but also implementing strong lyrics, which Mizwinski has been doing for the better part of a decade. While his songs take from different aspects of his life, one of Mizwinski’s main focal points has been to honor and remember his late cousin, Leah, who passed away more than a decade ago, but still inspires the guitarist in more ways than he could have imagined.

“That’s the only thing I know how to write about,” he said. “I’d say 90 percent of my songs are about direct things that happened in my life. I write a few fictional songs, but not nearly as many as the honest songs I write. (Leah) was a big part of my life. I never had any brothers or sisters, so she was the closest thing to a sister I ever had. When she passed away, it shook the family and it really shook me. I’m actually working on another song right now that’s indirectly about her too. She always comes up when I’m writing songs, I don’t know why. I guess she influenced my life that much.”

Another more directly personal angle to Mizwinski’s music is that of his past. Like many musicians, the guitarist was exposed and fell victim to many of the typical temptations of being on the road. Celebrating two years completely sober, Mizwinski has taken those past experiences and used them as a building block for not only his new sober lifestyle, but also his music.

“I got into some really heavy things at a really early age and one of those was drugs and it took me to bad places,” he said. “The cool thing about that is, I came out on the other side. I chose to become willing to live a different life. Now, I like to take those experiences and not only write about them, but hopefully inspire other people in any way that I can. Several people have emailed me about ‘The Dopesick Blues’ and said that it’s helped them get through tough times. What I’m hoping to do is inspire people…I enjoy playing music now ten times more than when I was partying. I’m more inspired, I’m more enthusiastic and I’m more motivated. I enjoy being sober and being a musician.”

With the new feel MiZ brings to his music, Mizwinski is enthusiastic when discussing the current state of the band and wants everyone to know that when they come to the Northeast Fair on Tuesday, you can expect to hear most of the cuts that have helped establish him as a respected part of the local and national music scene. However, Mizwinski himself is not the star of the show. MiZ is a tight, well-groomed outfit which touts the abilities of his comrades.

“Well, it will be a lot of my solo material that you’re used to hearing me play with a lone guitar, now has a band backing it,” he said. “I’m also switching back and forth between acoustic and electric, which I never did up until this past year. I’ve never played acoustic with a drummer…also, expect to hear a great band. I can’t speak more highly of John Kimock on the drums. He’s definitely my new favorite drummer to play with. He’s really on the up-and-coming. Every time I hear him, he gets better.”

MiZ will be performing two sets at the Northeast Fair this Tuesday beginning around 7 p.m. Fair admission is $8 and includes the music, rides, and everything else the Fair has to offer.

For more information, visit http://mikemizmusic.com

And the beat goes on…

Ryan O’Malley is the music journalist for The Sunday Dispatch and a correspondent for The Weekender. He may be reached at musicjournalman@hotmail.com - The Dispatch

"Miz to host Free Concert in Downtown Arts Center"

Miz to host free concert in Downtown Arts Center
BY CECILIA BARESS, STAFF WRITERPublished: November 18, 2010

Musician Mike Miz isn't spending Thanksgiving on the road this year.

The Pittston native will instead host a free show in Wilkes-Barre's Downtown Arts Center, where he will record tracks for a live album project. The show begins at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving.

He has been planning to play a show at home for about a year; the idea occurred to him as he was driving back from a gig he played in Massachusetts on the night before Thanksgiving last year.

"I tour and travel a lot, and I was thinking to myself as we were driving home 'Why did we come all the way up here?' Thanksgiving Eve should be a local show," he said.

It wasn't until Sept. 30 that he found the perfect venue, the Downtown Arts Center. His performance at the River Common amphitheater that night was moved to the center due to rain.

Miz said he was taken aback by the beauty and spirit of the converted church. He knew it was the right atmosphere for his solo, acoustic performance. It's the kind of venue that puts the artist at the center of everyone's attention and really helps the artist establish a connection with the audience.

"Solo acoustic, it's hard to play," he said. "In certain rooms it can be very difficult, and for some reason that room just works because of the way it's built."

Proceeds from the sale of Miz's live album will be donated to the River Common, which hosts a variety of programs throughout the year.

Karl Borton, director of programming and outreach for River Common, said the goal of collaborative projects like this is not to turn a profit, but to promote the community's growing arts scene.

"Without the musicians and without the art I think this would be a pretty bleak place," he said.

Miz and Borton both grew up in the area and have noticed a change in the downtown since their youth. Borton said it has become more vibrant, with activities and venues open to all ages, and not just clubs and bars. Miz praised the area's music scene as richer than some he has experienced, like the one in Orlando, Fla.

"There's a negative perception around here that this town doesn't have a lot to offer, when in fact there's so much to offer," Borton said.

Miz and Borton are promoting the concert as an alternative to Thanksgiving Eve festivities at bars, which are limited to a specific crowd. The night before Thanksgiving is a notorious party night, but Miz and Borton wanted to shift the focus to the music.

"You don't always see a Thanksgiving Eve bash that's not centered around the drinking," Borton said.

They also wanted to give the show a family feel. It starts early and is open to all ages.

The show includes performances by Charles Haivira and Kriki, who will also perform acoustic sets. The type of music each of the artists play - a mix of rock, soul, folk and bluegrass - can be enjoyed by a wide range of people, Miz said.

"This kind of music is appealing to all," he said.

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- Citizens Voice

"Miz unplugged rocks on Thanksgiving Eve"


Published: November 11, 2010

On this Thanksgiving Eve, picture yourself sitting in a beautiful, historic building, filled with atmosphere, with your friends and family listening to live acoustic guitar. Are you in New York City?

No - you're right here at home in Wilkes-Barre.

And it's all thanks to the efforts of local musician Michael Mizwinski - Mike Miz to his fans - who's been more than a little busy lately.

Miz recently assembled a new, five-piece band called MiZ. His new album is scheduled for release in February, and he recently opened for some huge names in the music industry, including Blues Traveler, Derek Trucks, Shawn Colvin and Leon Russell.

This Thanksgiving Eve in the 570 he is organizing and performing in a live, all-ages, free concert. Miz, along with Charles Havira and Kriki, will perform an acoustic show at Downtown Arts, 47 N. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre, on Wednesday, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m. Miz is recording the evening for his live album, with a portion of the proceeds from album sales to benefit the River Common's 2011 season.

Miz was inspired last Thanksgiving when he and his bandmates were traveling back to Northeastern Pennsylvania from a gig in Boston. It was about 8 a.m. after a good, but long, night and a tired Miz said to himself, "next Thanksgiving Eve, I'm putting on a show in the Valley."

Enter Karl Borton, director of the River Common. Borton booked Miz for a concert at the River Common this summer, but a windy, rainy night prevented him from playing outdoors as originally planned. They moved the concert to Arts YOUniverse, inside Downtown Arts. "And the bells went off in my head," Miz said. "I thought, 'Oh, wow, this is the spot.'"

Miz loves the acoustics of the room and will perform solo at this concert.

"I really like the fact that it's an old church, too," he said. "It's got spirit to it, and a great vibe."

Borton agreed, noting there's something comforting about this place. "It feels like you're part of a family when you're there; it's not generic," he said. "And there are such good acoustics on the inside that we wanted to showcase the raw, unfiltered Mike Miz without any distortions or effects - just his voice and his guitar," Borton said.

Being part of an alternative event that welcomes everyone in the community into a historic venue is exciting to Havira and Kriki. They can't wait to perform on Thanksgiving Eve, and both said they are honored to join Miz in this artistic endeavor that benefits the community and helps Wilkes-Barre grow.

"This is one of the ideal performances of my lifetime," Havira said. "It's great. I can't wait to do it."

Havira not only loves promoting the arts, he has a special fondness for the Wilkes-Barre area because he has roots here. He was born in South Wilkes-Barre and grew up in Bear Creek.

"Every time I come to Wilkes-Barre I think of my childhood and my teenage years, and my young adult years. I remember everything," he said.

During River Fest, Havira really took in the beauty of the River Common, too.

"I remember sitting over the edge of the whole River Common with my feet hanging above the river and taking in the sun, and I just felt so relaxed, just being there."

Havira will kick things off at 7 p.m. with a performance that he said will feel very intimate, even if the room that holds 700 people is filled to capacity.

"I'm going to try to put my set of music out there so it feels like there are six or seven people out there. The songs I'm going to choose will be personal and expressive and emotional," he said.

Kriki, voice warmed up, guitar in hand, will follow Havira. She's working on a new CD right now and will sing mostly new, original music, mixed with some older favorites and a few covers. She, too, is looking forward to playing Downtown Arts.

"The room is really great - what a good sound in there. You hear every little nuance," she said.

Like Miz and Havira, Kriki wants to do whatever she can to help support the arts. She said the revitalization of the old church into a center for the arts is "helping to wake up Wilkes-Barre a little bit," and she's pleased to be a part of that growth.

"It's exciting that people want a little more culture in Wilkes-Barre and something different to do," she said.

From families, to tweens to senior citizens, all will feel welcome at this concert.

"This is such a unique event. Once in a blue moon there's a free concert out there - usually there's a cover. We didn't want cost to be a deterrent. We want people to have fun," Borton said. "This whole event is about fun and promoting the arts and living in this community."

Mike Miz Unplugged, featuring acoustic sessions with Charles Havira and Kriki, will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 24, at Downtown Arts, 47 North Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with the show starting at 7 p.m. The concert is made possible through the generosity of community sponsors, and the evening will be recorded for a live album. A portion of the proceeds from album sales will benefit the River Common. A donation jar will be on site during the concert, but there is no charge to attend the event. For more information, visit www.rivercommon.org or www.mikemizmusic.com.
- Electric City (cover story)

"Mizwinski leads new band"

When the popular jam band Gongzilla decided to take a break, local guitar hero Mike Mizwinski found himself with a lot of free time on his hands. Those empty slots on his calendar led him to pursue a long-time goal — starting his own band.

The result is the electric duo MiZ, which features Mizwinski (known around the area simply as Mike Miz) and bassist Alan Hanczyc, who has been a friend and musical collaborator of Mizwinski’s for more than 10 years. The duo has gone through a small handful of drummers since forming, with local standout A.J. Jump currently pounding the skins to make MiZ into a trio.

We kind of went on some sort of hiatus where we definitely knew we wouldn’t be playing for a good while, and we’re still not playing,” Mizwinski said of Gongzilla. “That was really when I kind of looked at my calendar, I had a bunch of open time and decided this is it, I’m starting my own band.”

MiZ has been playing for approximately four months, but has already scored a few major gigs. The group will open for the Derek Trucks Band at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on Nov. 4, and will play the World Cafe in Philadelphia on Jan. 8.

The gig opening for Derek Trucks Band happened when Tom Moran from the River Street Jazz Café placed a simple phone call call in support of the group and led to a domino effect.

“He’s been working behind the scenes for me for quite some time and has gotten me a lot of great opportunities,” Mizwinski said of Moran. “He put a phone call in to the Sherman Theater. The Sherman Theater then listened to our tunes and immediately e-mailed us and said they loved our music and they’d do anything they could do to get us to open for the show. So I guess they contacted Derek Trucks’ management, they OK’d it and that was that.”

That’s given the band a whole new life. Not a lot of bands get a chance to open for Derek Trucks, and we’ve only been playing gigs for three or four months now, we’re like brand new. ... Plus, The Allman Brothers has been one of my major influences my whole life, so it’s a treat.”

The group is playing almost the entire catalogue of Mizwinski’s music, including tunes he wrote for his acoustic solo work and songs he wrote while playing with Morning Pride. He described the group’s sound as mostly rock with some Americana/folksy stylings, as well.

MiZ has been busy playing locally and in the New York City area, as well as upcoming shows in the Philly, Reading and Harrisburg areas. There are also plans for a full-length album, although the release date is still up in the air.

“We were hoping to have one out by the new year, but that’s not looking like it’s going to happen now. But we’re definitely hoping to have one out by spring; we’re already making plans to do it.”

For more information on MiZ, visit www.myspace.com/mizband. To purchase tickets to see MiZ and The Derek Trucks Band at the Sherman Theater on Nov. 4, visit www.shermantheater.com. Mizwinski will play an acoustic solo show at Northern Light Espresso Bar in Scranton on Thursday, Oct. 22, from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is free.

- Electric City by Randy Shemanski

"Singer/songwriter grateful for life in music"

Michael Mizwinski's future was clear at an early age - he was going to be a musician.

"I began playing the guitar at age six, and since then I've had an undeniable calling to play music," he said.

Performing as "Mike Miz," Mizwinski, 27, of Scranton, has already spent a substantial amount of time in the music industry. He began writing music at age 10 and formed his first band and played his first bar gig at 15. The Pittston Area High School graduate recently performed in Wilkes-Barre as part of a free concert series sponsored by the River Common.

"Honestly, it's the only thing I've ever felt called to," Mizwinski said.

His choice to pursue music, however, has not always been an easy one. There have been phases when he struggled with his motivation and determination, he said.

"I never wanted to completely give up, but there have been times where I've been in a complete depression," Mizwinski said.

The hardest time came in 2002 when Mizwinski moved from Pennsylvania to Florida. "I had a substance abuse problem, and spent the next several years in and out of treatment centers, trying to get clean," he said. "There were times that I lost all hope and felt like the most worthless human being on the face of the earth." It took several failed attempts at sobriety before Mizwinski got back on his feet. "I moved to York, Pennsylvania in 2006 and began a new life, with help from an amazing family who never gave up on me."

When the difficult times started to ease, Mizwinski was left with a new outlook. "I somehow walked out the other side a different person. Looking back, I am now grateful for all that I have been through (and all that I have put myself through), because I chose to learn from my mistakes, and although I am far from perfect, I have grown as a person," Mizwinski stated.

Mizwinski lived in York, working the third shift at a factory and performing at open mic nights, hoping to book gigs. He kept writing music, and over time, things really improved.

Mizwinski met the jazz fusion group Gongzilla and performed at the legendary Troubadour in Hollywood, Calif., in January 2007. There, he met members of Frank Zappa's band and was blown away by them.

"I couldn't believe I was playing with people who had performed with one of my influences," said Mizwinski.

After that experience, Mizwinski began to believe that he had a chance at making a living from his music. "I am a self-employed musician because I haven't had a "real job" in over three years," Mizwinski said.

He is working on his debut album, which he hopes to release in January.

"I had a demo out earlier and some live recordings, but this is the real deal."

Mizwinski is interested in many different genres of music. He noted Charlie Parker, Wilco and old traditional bluegrass music as some of his latest favorites.

His writing is all about inspiration. "I just hear it, and am always open to receiving what comes to me," he said. "I start hearing verses or notes and my pen can't write fast enough."

Life, of course, helps put lyrics on paper. "Most of the music I write is inspired from direct life experiences, and sometimes when it's not blatantly obvious, you can find certain things camouflaged within the lyrics."

Mizwinski has had many memorable performances with great artists, but he notes Blues Traveler as a unique one. "I opened up right before Blues Traveler went on, and later on, we hung out with them," he said. "John Popper (lead singer of Blues Traveler) is hilarious. It was a good time."

Performing is something that will never get old, Mizwinski said.

"I used to get nervous, but now I just get pumped up. It's an adrenaline rush."

Selling out Madison Square Garden is Mizwinski's ultimate goal, but for now, he just wants to keep working.

"I want to keep growing as a musician and continue to be inspired," Mizwinski said.

If Mizwinski could leave behind anything as a legacy, he wants to impact people's lives.

"What I wish is to inspire hope in people who have been affected by these struggles or any struggle."

- Citizens Voice (by Julia Dearden)


Published: October 2010
Story: Keith Wilson
Photo: Fly Photo by Emily Albert

Mike Miz (short for Mizwinski) is living a story that has become a rarity. He’s an area musician making a living playing music on his own terms.

When the 27-year-old singer-songwriter and guitar virtuoso was plucked from relative obscurity in Northeastern Pennsylvania a few years ago, he soon found himself sharing the stage with world-class musicians at the legendary Los Angeles club the Troubadour.

Several years later, he has gathered all the wisdom, experience and connections from that season of life and is pouring them into his new band, named simply, MiZ.

Mizwinski’s childhood was saturated with music. He says, “My family is all musicians, both sides of the family, actually – everyone plays instruments.”

While other kids were entertained by the typical fantasy adulthood careers, Miz was actually working on his. “Most kids wanted to be an astronaut or a fireman,” he remembers. “All I ever wanted to do was play music for a living.”

His aunt and uncle were in a regionally legendary country/bluegrass rock band called Old Friends. Miz saw them play countless times and counts this among his significant early defining experiences.

His parents also kept his musical interests fed. “My mom really listened to a lot of great music,” Miz says. “Anything from Lyle Lovett to Little Feat – she’d be playing it on the stereo. And on my dad’s side, he’d be taking me to see the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers when I was nine years old. Those were life changing experiences.”

In fact, he saw the Allman Brothers numerous times and saw Jerry Garcia play twice. Miz credits the Allman Brothers as the guiding influence to his essential guitar style of blues-rock.

Not patient enough to wait until he was of age to mix with adult musicians in the places that matter, Miz started playing out in bars at the age of 16. “My mom would actually come and sit with me at the bar so I wouldn’t get in trouble,” he explains. His mother watched proudly and was supportive as Miz’s first band, The Appalachian Barnhouse Band, was storming the Scranton area. The band gained regional popularity quickly but did not stay together long.

He continued to pursue the dream nonetheless. Miz says, “I can’t even tell you how many bands I’ve played in because I couldn’t even remember. But I just started playing with anyone and everyone that I could. I would just go to all open mics, constantly meeting other people, networking.”

This networking paid off a few years ago, primarily by providing a venue to showcase his talent, which apparently spoke for itself. Miz says that things really began to fall in place when, two or three years ago, “I really started getting serious with this as what I want to do with my life, making this a full-time career – and it has been. This last year has been the best year I’ve ever had in my life. I haven’t worked a real job in well over two years now. I haven’t done anything other than play music.”

Miz gives a share of the credit for his good fortune to Tom Moran, who runs the Wilkes-Barre club River Street Jazz Cafe, and who Miz says has “been looking over my career.” The club remains a home base for Miz, and it was key in his trajectory because Moran consistently featured Miz and his then band as the opening act for touring artists in genres where the pairing made sense.

Consequently, Miz says that’s where he ended up collaborating with lots of talented, respected musicians. One of these opening slots was for a band called Gongzilla, an underground jazz fusion band that grew out of a band called Gong, which had a long history and a cult following.

Miz’s performance was something impressive that night. He recalls, “The guys from Gongzilla called me the next day and asked me to join their band. It was obviously a huge opportunity – my first show was going to be at the Troubadour in L.A.”

The show at the Troubador was so awe-inspiring that in recounting who was there, Miz can’t keep the legendary musicians straight. He says that in addition to members of Frank Zappa’s band, “Jeff Pevar, who played with David Crosby and Ray Charles, was there … so that was like kind of a huge step for me.”

Miz toured with Gongzilla on and off for the next two years. During that time he met and played with a wide variety of musicians; connections that he would be able to hang on to and nurture for the next phase of his career. When Gongzilla went on hiatus last spring, Miz, never one to take anything like a hiatus himself, leapt at the opportunity to start his own band again.

The young man’s career seems to be in constant flux, but somehow with sustained momentum, such that moving from one thing to the next does not require pauses for course correction. His current three-piece band, MiZ, he admits, is already “actually changing.”

Mike Doherty is now playing bass, and Miz says, “We’ve been using a few different drummers … one of our favorites is John Kimock. He plays with some of the best musicians in the world.” For example, musicians like Bernie Worrell, who played keyboards with the Talking Heads.

The next phase is to add two more members. Miz explains, “The band has been a three-piece for the last year and a half, but right now I’m in the process of making it a five-piece – I’m adding Chris Kehr who played with the Recipe. He plays acoustic guitar, mandolin, bass mandolin, harmonica and sings. And we’re looking to add some keyboards.”

Miz does have a method to his madness, and he looks at the big picture more acutely than many his age. He doesn’t claim that the band has it all figured out and is set to dominate the musical landscape.

Instead Miz says, “Right now we’re trying to just find our own sound. We’re not trying to say, ‘Oh, we’re an Americana band,’ or, ‘Oh, we’re a blues-rock band.’ We’re just kind of putting all these influences together and hoping that, in the next few years that it just naturally evolves into what the band is intended to become.”

His sense that the band has something like fate, in terms of it having an intended destiny, is evident. They are exploring this identity opportunity by playing everywhere and in every milieu that they can. Miz the band and Miz the man are not in search of an overly defined identity anyway, but seem to be letting the journey dictate the destination.

Miz says, “We’re trying to avoid pigeonholing ourselves. In the last several months, we’ve opened for Derek Trucks, we’ve opened for Blues Traveler … But I’ve also gone and played the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival which is a totally different world; straight folk music.”

Their flexibility is far more nuanced and mature than simply having learned various catalogues in various genres as cover bands do. Instead, they have songs that can morph to suit the venue within a logical set of sub-genres.

Miz is excited to see where this adaptability might lead. He says, “We can kind of bounce all over and play for the audience that we’re going for. When we play a jam band festival obviously we’re going to jam…you know we’re going to rock out and extend the songs. If we play a folk festival, we’re going to keep it nice and short. We’re going to play catchy songs…all these different audiences are starting to notice us.”
- Fly Magazine


Band: MiZ

Members: Alan Hanczyc, bass; A.J. Jump, drums; Mike Mizwinski, guitar and vocals

Who we talked to: Mizwinski, 26

How did you get into music? I was born in Scranton, and my father is probably one of the best guitar players I've ever met. I was hanging out with him at band practice since I was 2 years old. My aunt and uncle also play in a really popular band up there called Old Friends. Pretty much my whole family (are) . . . musicians. I learned my first song when I was 6 or 7.

Do you remember what that song was? It was probably a blues song. I think it was "Before You Accuse Me" by Eric Clapton. I'm sure I didn't play it that well. My dad taught me (Led Zeppelin songs "Stairway to Heaven" and "Over the Hills and Far Away") and I practiced them for, like, so long that he couldn't even stand to hear those songs anymore.

When did you start writing your own songs? Ever since I could play, I was always making stuff up, but I wrote my first full song when I was 12. I can still kind of even remember . . . some parts of it.

How has your songwriting evolved? I first began to write . . . just themes and, you know, instrumental guitar stuff. I always hear progressions and chords in my head . . . and I'll grab a guitar and try to translate from my head to the guitar. As the years went on, I started writing lyrics. At first, I definitely admit that I probably wrote some really bad lyrics. (Laughs) But I just kept practicing at it. These days . . . I just can't help but to write songs. The best songs I've written just spilled out of me.

Who were your influences? I give all the credit to my mom and my dad because they turned me onto to really good music. They used to always take me to see live music. I saw The Grateful Dead when I was 9 years old. My mom used to take me to see Neil Young and Bob Dylan. Those were some of the most inspiring moments in my life. I would go home and practice the guitar for, like, a week after that.

Like any contemporary artists? Ryan Adams. His music definitely speaks to me and Ray LaMontagne, too.

When did you start your band MiZ? The band MiZ itself has only been together for eight months now. I'm really looking forward to what we're going to sound like in five years. I toured the country for two years with a jazz-fusion band called Gongzilla. I was really in awe of their musicianship. All the while, I had all this music that I'd written that I . . . never did anything (with). When Gongzilla decided to take a break, I must made a commitment that I was going to go full speed ahead with my own band. I just had started this band, and six months, later we're standing on stage opening for (Grammy-nominated guitarist) Derek Trucks.

How did you meet the other members? I'm from Scranton originally, but I'd been living in York for three years. I was looking for members for a while. I just picked one of my best friends, Alan, who is my bass player. We've been friends since we were about . . . 14. He's just a great guy . . . and he's a great musician, and he's also a great producer. Our drummer, we kind of stumbled upon by accident. Our original drummer . . . was going through lot of things at the time, and we had a recording session coming up and a bunch of gigs and he just (couldn't make it). A friend of a friend gave me this other guy, A.J.'s, number. I just called him, and he came (from Wilkes-Barre) within a day's notice.

Describe your sound and style. What we're calling it now is Americana soul. We kind of came up with that term because we really didn't see a lot of other bands going down that route. I grew up playing in a lot of jam bands. The last few years, I've actually started writing really focused songs. The reason that we're different is because on any given night there is still a lot of really intricate guitar work. (The crowd) could get anything from, like, a straight bluegrass song to, like, a . . . funky soul song.

Are you guys headed into the studio? We just started. We (had) our first studio session (Feb. 7). We know what songs that are going on the album and everything like that. We just actually have to start recording. (We're) hoping to have the full album out by the summer.

Are you friends with other musicians in the area? There's a band called HogMaw that I'm friends with . . . and Mark DeRose (of The Mark DeRose Band) definitely. Dana Alexandra (is) great, too. We just played with her at the Chameleon (Club).


If you go

See Mike Mizwinski perform a solo show during the Millennium Music Conference. His gig is at 11 p.m. Feb. 19 at the ABC Brewery, 3721 Market St., Camp Hill. For details, visit www.abcbrew.com.

See MiZ perform with The Mark DeRose Band May 8 at the Penn State York's Pullo Family Performing Art Center, 1031 Edgecomb Ave. in Spring Garden Township. Tickets are $12.50.

For details, visit pullocenter.yk.psu.edu.

On the Web

For details about Mike Mizwinski, visit www.myspace.com/mikemizwinski.

For details about MiZ, visit www.myspace.com/mizband.

Listen to the interview at www.flipsidpa.com.

Read more meet-the-artist interviews at www.flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory. - Flipside

"Guitar summit in Stroudsburg"

STROUDSBURG — Nearly 1,000 music fans made their way into the Sherman Theater Wednesday night with Derek Trucks on their minds. And while Trucks did not disappoint, they walked out of the show with another name on their minds, too: Miz. The local band, led by guitarist and vocalist Mike Mizwinski, delivered a message that it has the chops and the songs to hang with anyone —including a musician who might be the best guitarist alive — during a standout one-hour set that touched on jamming pop rock, bluegrass and acoustic soul and earned several standing ovations.

Miz — Mizwinski, Alan Hanczyc (bass) and A.J. Jump (drums) — was fortunate to land such a gig as well as the generous one-hour slot, and it made the best of the opportunity. The group, which displayed a keen ability to jam without wearing out its welcome, opened with “Dopesick,” a gently rollicking reggae-esque tune. Mizwinski, whose tone closely resembles Trey Anastasio’s, took a tasteful solo. “Slow You Go” was sunny and funkier, with Jump throwing in some subtle cymbal work during the bridge. Mizwinski switched to an acoustic guitar for the pretty “Wink,” the delicate and moody “Casket,” which had a Medieval-ish introduction and some nifty tempo shifts, and “Was a Time.”

Mizwinksi, back on electric, stretched out with some Eric Clapton-inspired blues-rock licks on “Red House.” Hanczyc, as he did throughout the set, held down the bottom end with authority. “New Morning Sky,” which has some serious pop appeal, and the jazzy “Time for Time” wrapped things up.

The table was set for Trucks, whose raw talent is jaw-dropping. His songs, however, which fall into the blues and world music/jazz categories, are not for everyone. In fact, on Wednesday night it seemed that Miz’s style was more in tune with the crowd, which is quite remarkable considering most people in the nearly sold-out crowd of 834 had never heard of the band before. If you took the time to listen intently, though, the DTB, and Trucks specifically, are a dynamic force that can go from a whisper to a scream in the course of a song.

Trucks’ Latin-tinged “Kam-ma-lay” was an early set highlight, and the guitarist, who tends to stand in one spot during his Allman Brothers Band shows, was quite animated throughout. The 30-year-old positively tore into the John Coltrane arrangement of the jazz standard “Afro Blue,” and on “Joyful Noise,” from the band’s 2002 album of the same name, he played scratchy rhythms while Kofi Burbridge took organ leads.

- Mike Lello- the Weekender

"Miz is on the move Mike Mizwinski and his band will open for Blues Traveler"

By Randy Shemanski

Published: July 15, 2010

When we first profiled Mike Mizwinski two years ago in electric city, he was moving back to the Scranton area from Philly, had kicked a substance abuse problem and was looking to kick his music career into high gear. He was playing a few solo gigs as well as with a local jam band called Morning Pride that had a small, but loyal following thanks to a kick-ass jam band sound.

Fast forward two years and Mizwinski is right where he planned to be, leading his own band, the appropriately named MiZ. The three-piece group will open for Blues Traveler at The Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on Wednesday, July 21, the latest step in the group's rise in the Northeast.

MiZ has played the Sherman a few times, including opening for Derek Trucks Band last year. This latest gig came about when Miz saw the show on the schedule and contacted the theater's management about the possibility of playing the opening slot. They liked the idea and sent info to Blues Traveler and their management, which signed off on the idea.

Mizwinski, known by many as simply Mike Miz, admits to being a big fan of Blues Traveler, and while he's seen John Popper play a few different times, he's never met the harmonica-playing frontman.

"I'm probably going to ask him if he wants to sit in with us," Mizwinski said with a laugh. "I have a friend of mine that recently opened for them and said they're really nice, laid-back guys. I'd like to just say, 'What's up,' and see if he wants to sit in on a tune or something."

It wouldn't be the first time Mizwinski's shared the stage with a notable musician. He had a regular touring gig with Gongzilla and has shared the stage with the guys from moe. and Umphrey's McGee, as well. But even with those accolades to his credit, it's his own music and the progress of MiZ that he seems most proud of.

The group, which also includes John Kimock on drums and Mike Dougherty on bass, is working on a new album while playing festivals and individual shows from Maine to West Virginia. Add those live performances to his own solo shows and Mizwinski doesn't have a lot of free time. In fact, he just spent his one weekend off this summer in Bethel, N.Y., with family. Now he'll turn his focus to the band's new album and his busy live schedule.

"Right now we're in the early stages," he said of the new album, "getting all the material together, getting the songs where we want them. I've been writing a lot, actually. I'm always writing. I guess you could call it a problem of luxury, but I have so many songs right now that I'm trying to figure out which ones I want on the album. I probably have about three albums worth of songs that I have to condense down into one album."

Mizwinski hopes to have the album finished by the end of the year, an understandable timeframe considering his schedule is almost completely booked into November. Part of that schedule includes weekly shows on Mondays from Aug. 16 to Sept. 13 at Breakers inside Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Fans and newcomers to Mizwinski's sound might hear a few of the band's new tunes during those shows, as well.

"As soon as I write a song I start playing it live," he said. "The reason I like doing that is because you get to see how the crowd is going to react. And it's like practice every time you play because sometimes a song sounds good when I'm practicing at home and then when I get out and get into a live situation, I see there's a part that needs to be changed or maybe there's a certain part of the song that's not working. Then I'll know to go back and fix it."

With MiZ gaining a solid foothold on the upper East Coast, Mizwinski has set his sights on even bigger accomplishments for the group.

"I'm always striving for the next best thing. It's kind of like I never get too comfortable where I'm at," he said.

Mizwinski plans to add two more members to the band. One is Kris Kehr, who plays mandolin, harmonica and acoustic and electric guitar in The Recipe, a West-Virginia based blues/jam band. And Mizwinski hopes to add a piano player, a position he's still scouting potential prospects for.

"At first I thought the three-piece thing was going to be great, but I hear all these other parts and I hear all this other stuff going on, especially with singing harmonies and stuff like that. I'm just striving to a much bigger sound now," he said.

With everything he's accomplished with the group in the past year, it's hard to imagine Mizwinski not reaching his goals over the next year. On that list are completing the upcoming album and continuing to play a heavy festival schedule each summer. He mentioned Bonnaroo - the hugely popular festival in Manchester, Tenn. that draws some of the top acts from around the globe - as a goal and thinks it's reasonable within the next three to five years.

"What I'd like to see is the album out, it selling well, and us on the road with some nice slots at some well-known festivals," Mizwinski said of his hopes for the band at this time next year. "I'd love to say Bonnaroo and all those big ones. I'm sure we're starting to get on people's radar, but I think at a lot of these kind of B-list festivals we'd really do well.

"Hopefully in the next three or four or five years we'll be looking at Bonnaroo."

- randy shemanski

MiZ will open for Blues Traveler at The Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on Wednesday, July 21. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 the day of the show. For more information, visit www.shermantheater.com or www.myspace.com/mizband.
- Electric City

"Mizwinski Keeps it Real"

Mike Mizwinski is a candid young man. Even if they aren’t pretty topics, he talks openly about some of the experiences that inspired the songs on his new CD, “The Madness In My Mind.” And he wants you to hear those songs.
Mizwinski, 24, a native of Scranton, will hold a CD release party on Friday at the River Street Jazz Cafe. His new album was recorded at JL Studios in Wyoming and was produced, mixed and mastered by Joe Loftus. It is available at Mizwinski’s shows, Wayne’s World in Pittston, Music Go-Round in Wilkes-Barre and will soon be stocked at Gallery of Sound stores.
Mizwinski, who also plays with the local bands Morning Pride and Trippin’ on Nothing, comes from a musical family and learned his first song at age 7. In 1993, when he was 9 years old, he attended his first Grateful Dead concert with his father and – from his ninth row seat – immediately knew that we wanted to me a musician for the rest of his life. At 16, he joined his first band, The Appalachian Barnhouse Band, and later shared the stage with Jimmy Herring (The Dead and Widespread Panic), Merle Saunders (Legion of Mary, The Jerry Gracia Band), Keller Williams, The Slip, The Recipe and local favorite George Wesley.
“My whole family are musicians,” says Mizwinski. “My Aunt Mary and Uncle Paul play in the band Old Friends, and my father played guitar my whole life. He had me playing Eric Clapton tunes when I was seven years old, but it wasn’t until I’d seen the Dead play that I actually new that that’s what I wanted to do, to make a living out of it, and a life out of it.”
The entire concert experience, he says, struck a deep chord in his heart and mind.
“I grew up listening to The Beatles, the Dead and The Allman Brothers, and just being there and being so close, and being so young, and all of these people in the crowd were so happy … there was just something really magical about it that really drew me in, especially seeing Jerry Garcia right there, 20 feet in front of me.”
Mizwinski has also always been drawn to the musicianship, improvisation and free spirit of jam bands.
“My dad also used to take me to see The Allman Brothers a lot, and watching Dickey Betts and Warren Haynes improv guitar solos for five or 10 minutes at a time … that really drew me in and got me listening to other bands like Phish and other jam bands.”
As for his own songs, Mizwinski isn’t afraid to get personal. Titles include “The Dopesick Blues,” “Like It Was Yesterday” and “Broken Wheels.”
“I like to think of my songs as little snippets of my life,” he says. “I write very honest lyrics, and 99 percent of the time, they are about things that directly happened to me in my life. Dylan and some people, they make up characters and people and write stories in their songs. My songs are more directly about my own experiences.”
Some of those experiences include Mizwinski’s five-year battle with drug addiction, which he is quite honest about. He says that though his career was sidelined by the problem, it was also ultimately enriched.
“It’s just something that happened to me, and a lot of people try to hide from it, but it’s actually a reality that happens to a lot of people, and I’m fine talking about it,” he says. “I’ll have a year sober in two months. Obviously, it gave me a lot things to write about.
“The music business and music in general gets this kind of stamp on it, that all musicians party really hard, and I just started partying at a very young age, and it just led to harder and harder drugs,” he adds. “I eventually became addicted to some pretty hard substances. It helped me to grow a lot, and after I had enough and got sober and cleaned up, I realized that there’s such a better life out there and there’s so much more to do musically that has nothing to do with getting wasted. I enjoy playing music so much more sober.”
Mizwinski hopes those coming to the Jazz Cafe on Friday and those that pick up the CD also get that same joy from his music.
“I hope they think it’s different and unique. I’m obviously very influenced by jam bands, but the album is more song-oriented. You won’t find too many lengthy jams on the album, and I would hope that people will leave with one of my songs in their head, or remember a song. If I can put a smile on somebody’s face, that would be enough for me.”
Who: Mike Mizwinski, with Cabinet
Where: River Street Jazz Cafe, 667 N. River St., Plains Township
When: Friday, July 13 at 10 p.m.
Cover: $5
Info: 822.2992
On the web:
www.myspace.com/mikemizwinski - Alan K. Stout (Weekender editor) 7-11-07

"You realy truly have "it""

Hearing your music for the first time is what MusicLoad lives for. - Mariana @ Musicload.com

"(The Weekender) Mizwinski in the Gong Show"

Mike Mizwinski, known to local fans as the stellar guitarist with Morning Pride and Phish tribute act Tripping On Nothing, has become an official member of Gongzilla, an adventurous, international rock act that was formed in 1995 by members of Gong, a seminal prog/fusion band. Mizwinski assures us, however, that Morning Pride and TON are still in business and will work around Gongzilla’s recording and touring schedule.
TON will play this Friday, Dec. 14 at the River Street Jazz Cafe. Banjo and pedal steel whiz Gordon Stone, who has recorded and shared stages with Trey Anastasio and company, will sit in.
- Mike Lello

"Gongzilla fuses generations"


by Kacy Muir

When two generations of musicians combine, the fusion is like any good composition — blending two great parts to make a whole new element.

The new element, of course, is due to the most recent additions to Gongzilla, who as a multinational band, have connected from a variety of locations in an effort to transform music in a postmodern way.

And, Mike Mizwinski, originally from Scranton, has just recently become a part of that element in joining the band.

Mizwinski, who is now officially performing under the last name Miz due to pronunciation issues, was soon after joined by new addition Jeffrey Villanueva. Gongzilla will perform Saturday, March 8, at the River Street Jazz Caf�.

Though Gong as a band began in the late 1960s, it has since then reemerged as the offshoot band Gongzilla. But do not be misled. Gongzilla is reinventing music, not seeking to recapture the past.

The band’s inspiration, now in gaining two new musicians, will be a growth that continues to transform and adapt with the future.

Gongzilla, which is led by Bon Lozaga on lead guitar and vocals and Hansford Rowe on bass and vocals, blends with newcomers Miz on lead guitar and vocals and Villanueva on drums.

But it is Miz whose footprints can be traced throughout the NEPA region that tells a story of musical progression and the roads which have led him there.

Through performing in bands Trippin on Nothing, Morning Pride and Cosmic Charlie, a three-man band that includes his father, Miz has since then taken on other projects.

“I have a solo project, but Gongzilla is my number one most important thing right now,” said Miz.

The story began with Gongzilla performing a double show with Trippin on Nothing. As Rowe expressed, he could see that Miz “could play viscerally [and] also sing, making for a cross-pollination of genres.”

After being invited to join the band, Miz confirmed about two weeks later, stating that he accepted the band’s request because the members were respected as musicians and serious about their future.

“It’s an honor to play with them,” said Miz.

And it should be. After all, Miz played his first show with Gongzilla at the famous Troubadour in Los Angeles.

In installing two new members, the band, alongside the already known Lozaga and Rowe, became a jazz-rock fusion defined by what they are not — old.

“We are a current band. Pop, as in not classical, but the purest sense of the word,” Rowe said.

In explaining the band, Rowe stated, “It is a band of two completely different generations, but we are all interested in rock that has room for jamming and ties our fusion background to the music of today.”

Therefore, in turn, the two generations not only allow a new enthusiasm for the crowd and overall experience but also create a different rock context.

The band, as if a match made in heaven, takes two sets of musicians, Lozaga and Rowe with Miz and Villanueva, to create a perfect balance of creativity.

“There is no one frontman for the band,” said Miz who transitions between vocalist and lead guitar.

Like Bob Dylan — a personal favorite of his — Miz delves into many genres of music and art forms, making a diverse and experienced sound in the way he controls his vocal and guitar skills.

“I can’t not be creative. I am wired to be creative,” said Miz, whose path to musical progression is one which he is graciously thankful for.

“I could probably thank about 100 people, but what it comes down to is having faith in yourself and not letting negative people in with the bad nights and obstacles. A clear head helped me progress to where I am now,” Miz said.

Miz, in also thanking Lozaga and Rowe for the opportunity of a lifetime, said, “I look up to them as uncles, as if there was a family relationship.”

As progression continues with the new additions to Gongzilla, it is dually noted, for as Rowe stated, “We are all headed in the same direction, but our ages make it a special combination.”

w - Kacy Muir

"Rock n Roll ...Hall of Famer and multiple-platinum artist"

"This stuff is great. I love it. It moves you emotionally, mentally. It grabs you. It's music that's undeniable."

-Regarding the MiZ EP - -Dion (DiMucci)

"(Grateful Dead Publicist/Historian)"

"Clearly, it's very good stuff. Well-written songs, well-put together."

-regarding the MiZ EP - -Dennis McNally

"WXPN Radio Host/ Co-founder Philadelphia Folk Festival"

"Fresh , exciting new music from a man named Miz---worth checking out!"

-Regarding the MiZ EP - Gene Shay


East Hope Avenue.
release Oct 2011

Mike Miz- Live at Downtown Arts
released Dec 2010

all albums on itunes and amazon

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)



Mike played 245 shows in 2010

and 261 shows played in 2011.

MiZ won ACOUSTIC ARTIST OF THE YEAR (2 years in a row) at the Tri-State Indie awards ceremony at the World Cafe in Philadelphia in Febuary 2012 & 2013. www.tristateindie.com

Since it’s inception in 2010, MiZ has had the opportunity to open for such acts as

Derek Trucks

The Wallflowers


Little River Band

Peter Wolf (J Giles Band)

Shawn Colvin

Leon Russel

Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes

Blue Oyster Cult

Blues Traveler

Railroad Earth

Kenny Wayne Sheppard

MiZ is a soulful, Rock-Americana artist from Northeast Pennsylvania who is known as a skillful and well rounded master of both acoustic and electric guitar. His sound is directly impacted by the coal mining region of PA and the songs evoke the rustic tones and imagery you would expect from the region and it's cultural heritage. The singer / songwriter / guitarist Mike Mizwinski gives name to the band and his solo work and it is his heart and soul-- poured into the words and his guitar-- that drives it all forward. We use the term singer/songwriter loosely here, as a MiZ show can feature fast, intricate instrumental guitar compositions, foot stomping bluegrass, soulful ballads, creative covers, and a melting pot of different styles- textures- flavors- and feels that make up the catalouge (over four albums worth) of self penned songs. Mike has maintained a freshness, a vibe, something, that keeps fans coming back for more. MiZ has opened forAmerica, The Wallflowers, Derek Trucks Band, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Blues Traveler, Shawn Colvin, Lyle Lovett, Leon Russell, Railroad Earth and many more. Mike has played over 450 shows since 2010 spanning from Berlin Germany -Northern Canada - Los Angeles - Austin, Texas - New York City and everywhere in between. He has played onstage with artists such as America, Umphrey's McGee, Donna Jean Godchaux, members of  THE BAND, Ratdog, moe., Particle, String Cheese Incident, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Marc Ford + more. Mike is now endorsing Framus/Warwick guitars and won the Tri-State Indie "Acoustic Artist of the Year" award two years in a row- 2011 & 2012.

and what some of the world's most renouned musical adventurers have to say:

"This stuff is great. I love it. It moves you emotionally, mentally. It grabs you. It's music that's undeniable."
-Dion (DiMucci), Rock n Roll Hall of Famer -and multiple-platinum artist

"I’m definitely dazzled by MiZ's new CD, East Hope Avenue, please believe me. This is some strong stuff.." -Dennis McNally (Grateful Dead Publicist/Historian)

Here's what -Bill Payne of Little Feat- had to say about MiZ's first studio effort- East Hope Avenue:
'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! '

MiZ's new album can be heard on the following radio stations:

WFDU 89.1 FM Teaneck NJ
KGON, 92.3 FM Portland OR
KPFT  -90.1FM  Houston TX
KAXE- 91.7 Grand Rapids MN
WNTI- 91.9 Hackettstown NJ
KDHX - 88.1 St. Louis MO
WKPS- 90.7 The Lion Penn State PA
KPFA- 94.1 FM San Francisco CA
WESU 88.1 FM Middletown CT
WMUM -89.7 FM Cochran, GA
WPKN 89.5 FM Bridgeport CT
KRXO - 107.7 FM Oklahoma City OK
WVIA -89.9 FM Scranton PA
KZFR - 90.1 FM Chico, CA
WLFR- 91.7 FM Pomona NJ
WHUS 91.7FM Storrs CT
WGAO 88.3 FM Franklin MA
102.3 The Mountain Scranton PA
WLFR 91.7 FM Cape May NJ
WXLV 90.3 Lehigh Valley PA
WNTI 91.9FM Hackettstown NJ
90.5 WJFF Jeffersonville NY

Band Members