The Mike Plume Band
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The Mike Plume Band

Nashville, Tennessee, United States

Nashville, Tennessee, United States
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"I love songs like this. The thought that goes into the lyrics alone gives me a headache, they are so well thought out. At first listen, this sounded like a country record to me, but after a few more spins, I realized that it is an interesting hybrid of a couple of influences I would not have expected. First of all, the country element is in the lyric. A down-home name-check of just about every well known place in Canada, and an over-all homage to our home and native land. Then you’ve got a fairly roots-y reading by the musicians, complete with an Al Kooper-esque Hammond organ part swirling in the background, and finally, a vocal that sounds eerily like John Mellencamp channeling a 20 year old Bob Dylan, with a bit of mid-period, ‘country honk’ Rolling Stones looseness thrown in for good measure. Hear this one enough times, and it’ll cause you to buy a used ‘58 corvette ragtop, grab a map of Canada, and hit the road. It also makes me want to drink beer…" - Bob Segarni - FYIMUSIC


Have you ever been spent? Really spent? Where your friends and family are telling to take a break, to kick back, but you know you can’t. Not only because you’re the only one who can land all those balls you’re juggling, but also because if you stop, you’re stopping. And maybe never getting back up.

After some 1200 shows in eight years, that was exactly where Bonnyvillian Mike Plume found himself. Spent and broken hearted. He actually began to feel it more than 400 shows before that, but it took him a couple of years to admit it to himself and the band he’d criss-crossed Canada, Europe and the US with.

“It was in April of ’02, I sat down with the guys, and I said, ‘Here’s the deal, I’m really, really, really tired, and I need a break,’” Plume relates. “‘I also know we all need to work so that we can pay our bills, so if you guys are okay with playing two or three shows a month—and granted we were coming off years of playing 20 to 25 shows a month—so if you guys are okay with playing two or three shows a month to pay everybody’s rent, I can do that.’”

As it turned out, the band—made up of Meck Meyers, Dave Klym and Ernie Basiliadis—wanted to strike out on their own. And they did, with no hard feelings, trying out new sounds as the Populars.

Plume played solo, but very seldom, in the intervening years. He discovered what it was like to live in one place for more than 12 hours.

“I went from 200-plus shows a year to 10 shows a year, and that was enough for me at that point,” Plume explains. “When you start to get lost in thought when you’re playing on stage, you start thinking, like what’s on TV tonight, you know? Like you know what? Maybe I’m phoning this one in, and I’m not doing anybody any favours.”

It turned out, though, that music was a tough habit to break, and Plume and the band managed to get together for a few shows over the last six years, including one during Ottawa’s celebration of Alberta’s centennial.

It wasn’t until this year, however, that the guys started talking more seriously about the Mike Plume Band. The band went down to Nashville, where Plume now lives, to rehearse. They started talking about touring Europe. Not only that but they’d go with new music in hand. They recorded an album, due out in the New Year, and have set out for a reunion tour of Western Canada.

In the bio Plume has sent out, he writes, “I never thought I’d be at this point again. I never thought I cared this much about it.
“I was wrong.”
And all of the band’s fans say, “Here’s to well-deserved rest.” V
- Carolyn Nikodym - Vue Weekley


Mike Plume is in fine spirits - despite the fact he's on the phone from a truck stop in Wisconsin during a blizzard. This guy lives for this sort of thing.

Playing Friday at the Winspear Centre, he's the "long-haul trucker" in the Mike Plume Band, proud of the fact he can drive the van 14 hours straight without a break. "I have something to fall back on if this music thing doesn't pan out," he jokes.

They've driven more than 100,000 km in 2000 alone, mainly in the U.S. They've racked up more than 700 shows over three years, supporting the Song and Dance, Man album. They've played in every state, he says - "every state of mind and every state of America." Milestones are marked by some of Plume's heartland heroes: Mellencamp land, Dylan country and so on. "Right now we're in Paul Westerberg country," he says.

It seems a good bet that Plume can offer a True Tale of the Road. And so he does - topped by the ultimate compliment from the drummer for the Band.

That's the Band, man.

The Mike Plume Band was opening for Levon Helm and his Barnburners in Woodstock, New York, this summer, Plume recalls. One of only three drummers in the world known by their first names - Charlie, Ringo and Levon - Helm invited the boys back to the Barn (his studio) after the gig.

"He'd just done a session that day with (Eric) Clapton and Keith Richards," Plume says. "And he's standing in the door, saying, 'Welcome to Woodstock, boys, welcome to Woodstock.' Rick Danko's bass was still leaning up in the corner with Garth's (Hudson) organ. It was unbelievable. So as we're leaving, he said, 'You know, if you guys ever wanna do some recording or rehearsing or just wanna hang around, here's my number.'

"As luck would have it, we were working in a new bass player and we needed a place to rehearse and so we called Levon. We went there and rehearsed for a week. He'd sit there in his house and when we'd take a little break for a smoke or something, he'd come over and sit down with us. He'd say to us. 'I can hear that western wind in y'all's music.'

"Oh, man. You know, whenever I listen to Neil Young you can tell he grew up on the Prairies. So when he said that, if there was ever any thought of walking away from music, that was quashed right there as soon as he said that. Man, this is all worth it.

"He's everything you can turn out to be in this business. Just a cool old dude, not really drastically changed by success. This is the guy who sang Up on Cripple Creek. I'm looking at him, going, God damn, man, do you realize you sang The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down? And I kept thinking: If only my buddies could see me now. Wait a minute, they can. They're sitting right beside me."

Plume says he's sorry he doesn't get back home more often. Really, he is. He still keeps an apartment in Edmonton that he never sees. But when you're an artist who specializes in that Steve Earle-like rootsy-country-rock kind of music that doesn't currently have a hip name ("Americana" is out, as is "alt-country"), you have to take it to one crowd at a time. Commercial radio isn't exactly clamouring to play this stuff. Not yet, anyway.

Fuelled by the joy of the open road - plus an endorsement from the odd legendary drummer - the band is going from one huge tour to another without much of a break. Their new album, recorded at the Tragically Hip's studio, is in the can, planned for spring release. Working title: Everyone Up To and Including You. (Rejected titles: Big Shiny Plume and Dark Side of the Plume.)

"I've got some pretty strong opinions on this record," he says. "I think it's dynamite. I think you'll dig it, man."

As long as it's got that "western wind," I think we will.


- Mike Ross for JAM! Music


Smith's Olde Bar. What a place to be on a Wednesday night. There were all of twenty people in the room, but the Mike Plume Band could've easily rocked 10,000. They opened with an acoustic song, and I was scared. Wasn't in the mood to have my soul twisted. But boy oh boy, the things to come. Lead singer Mike Plume's raspy powerhouse vocals, skilled guitar licks, and subtle harmonica make you remember what real music sounded like in the days of Dylan.

Pure, sharp harmonies exploded like hard liquor and honey in a boiling pot. Driving rhythms, ass shaking melodies, these guys make you feel like a desert fantasy; a big long convertible, a fast getaway from a bar room brawl or a liquor store hold up.

In between, there were a handful of acoustic ballads by Mike Plume that put the room in a trance and under a spell; thoughtful and soul stirring, going deep and fast to the heart of the matter.

Lead guitarist Dave Klym hails from territory where only the truly gifted are spawned. His guitar is a mere extension of a natural expertise, irreproachable and gut wrenchingly honest. His on-stage banter is eccentric and beautifully bizarre. Dave is a guitar legend waiting for fate to deal a well-deserved hand of aces. Anyone lucky enough to witness him now will be bragging to their kids 20 years from now that they saw him when. I know I will.

These guys play with unadulterated dedication, talent, and heart. Their showmanship is personable, non-assuming, and hilarious at times. Catch them while you can. If there is any justice left to be had in this business of music, the Mike Plume Band will be a force to contend with.

Imagine the song that would be play on a perfect day. Sun shining, full pack of smokes, and the hangover you expected never showed up. Your best friend is riding shotgun, nowhere to go or be, just driving. Well that song was written by opening act Chopper Johnson, an amazingly tight rock band with equally dynamic stage power. Their music kicks you in the ass like a steel-toed boot then consoles you when you scream foul.

Lead guitarist and front man Burke Carroll is a pro. His voice is a finely-tuned instrument that can take you to the hardest place in rock, or the coolest spot in the shade. His guitar playing lets your mind breathe but could easily cause heart palpitations.

Their songs are evenhanded, with hard hitting drums and perfectly woven bass lines, fearless and commanding. Drummer Gary Betzel and bass player Brent Beardan have no problem holding their own, and supply the precise amount of readiness, skill, and power needed to pull it all together. With a touch of Stevie Ray blues, and an edge of the Kinks, Chopper Johnson has covered all the bases.

I would highly recommend checking this band out if you get the chance. They simply rock.
- Andrea Thompson


Simply put, this is great rock and roll. There's none of the contrived complexity and faux-art of so called Rock [sans roll] music. This is simple, hard-driving music with down-to-earth lyrics and a solid beat. The vocals are emotional and heartfelt. This is rock and roll as it grew out of its grass roots some fifty years ago.

Listening to Mike Plume brings to mind a whole range of rock and roll artists from Buddy Holly to The Velvet Underground. This is the sort of roots rock we hear from artists like Springsteen and Mellenkamp, but it reaches further back to the truer, simpler roots of rock and roll. Vocally, Plume reminds me of Bob Seger at his simplest and most direct and, especially, of Tom Petty.

At one level, one might think this is great American music. In fact, the artist is Canadian, one of the latest in a long tradition of hard-hitting Canadian rock and roll artists dating back to the genre's beginnings in the early fifties. I have long admired the solid rock and roll that comes out of Quebec, the Maritime Provinces, Vancouver, and up the West Coast of British Columbia, Winnipeg and Calgary. Traditionally, some of the hardest-rocking American hits have come from great Canadian bands.

Transcending the constraints of the always simple rock and roll lyric form, Plume's lyrics are tight and poetic, telling evocative stories of life and love. Plume's words raise these songs to another, finer level approaching the work of Buddy Holly, Bob Seger, and Lou Reed. This is rock and roll but it's also contemporary art created not for the toffs but for the people.

While many of these songs are heavy up-tempo rockers, others are gentle ballads meant to touch the heart. For example, "Dancing on the Wind" is a sweet visual song filled with images and metaphors that evoke larger romantic scenes. The words and images approach the subtle power of Leonard Cohen's earlier, simpler poetry. The music is supportive but unobrusive. The vocal is emotional and touching.

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The Ugly Truth (Uncensored) Do you have the guts to watch even 2 minutes of this video?

Warning: Uncensored video footage.
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A SEDUCTIVE SUMMER READ A gem... sophisticated... like a great aria, it stays with you. Cleveland Plain-Dealer

Astute... humorous... holds fans, and readers, in thrall with a tale that incorporates all of life's notes, the high and the low. Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Buy this delightful read at Amazon, BN or an indie store.


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Advertise here now"Birmingham" starts off the set with a solid, rocking beat reminiscent of the sixties instrumental hit "Wild Weekend" pumping along at medium tempo. To not dance or at least bop a little is not an option. "One of Those Days" picks up the tempo a bit with some vintage rock and roll licks. The party has started.

Instrumentally and vocally, "Ride" especially brings to mind the Tom Petty of "Refugee" vintage. This song has perhaps the most rock and roll lyric structure on this release. Even without the musical background, this lyric would read more like Ferlinghetti than Cohen.

Rock & Roll Recordings, Volume 1 is one CD that I don't mind hearing repeatedly in order to write a review. It's worth the time and effort. I do recommend this release to anyone who enjoys good rock and roll and excellent writing. I look forward to hearing volumes two through infinity.

Those who may be interested can find additional information about Mike Plume at the MIke Plume Official Website
- Bob MacKenzie


Discography

Songs From A Northern Town (1994)
Simplyfy (1997)
Song & Dance Man (1997)
Fools For The Radio (2001)
8:30 Newfoundland (2009)

Photos

Bio

“Writing a song is like building a chair,” says Mike Plume. “You can build one in about 5 minutes, and you can sit on it, but you might get splinters. I can write a song in 5 minutes, but by the time I think it’s done it could be a year and a half. I just keep running my hand over it, to see where I get the splinters.”

Produced by 6 time Grammy winner, Brent Maher, who has produced numerous multiplatinum artists ranging from The Judds to Johnny Reid (with Elvis, Ike and Tina, Kenny Rogers and more in between) and Grammy winning engineer, Charles Yingling in Nashville’s Blue Room Studios, 8:30 Newfoundland is the Moncton born, Bonnyville bred songwriter’s first record with the Mike Plume Band since 2001. Equal parts down home folk and raw country stomp, 8:30 Newfoundland cover a lot of years and a lot of miles: from ‘Norman Wells to The Rock’ on the title track and lead single; from late winter games of shinny on a frozen Alberta pond, where ‘the season never ended’ on More Than a Game; from the highways out of town where dreams begin, on Free, to back roads leading nowhere, where people who’s dreams have died go to heal in peace, on Junior.

But no matter how far 8:30 Newfoundland takes you, Plume's unrelenting optimism and forthright delivery tie it all together with an authenticity that comes from the kind of hard won truths and lyrical details you’d never be able to remember – let alone put on paper – if you hadn’t been there, in the flesh, living every word of every line. Even still, for Plume to come to some of those truths in his own mind, it took distance and time.

“It took a year and a half to write most of these songs.” Like “This is our Home (8:30 Newfoundland)”, he says, co-written with Road Hammer, Jason McCoy. “I couldn’t have written that song if I was living in Canada. I had to be homesick. I had to get away from everything to realize just how great our home is.”

“We wrote the first verse and chorus in 10 minutes, in 2006. For 16 months, every time I was walking my dogs, I’d visit that melody and come up with more lyrics. I could’ve finished it in an hour, but I’m not sure it would have ended up being the song that it turned into.”
A recent review of the title track by FYI Music contributor Bob Segarini quotes “I love songs like this. The thought that goes into the lyrics alone gives me a headache, they are so well thought out…First of all, the country element is in the lyric…A down-home name-check of just about every well known place in Canada, and an overall homage to our home and native land. Then you’ve got a fairly roots-y reading by the musicians, complete with an Al Kooper-esque Hammond organ part swirling in the background, and finally, a vocal that sounds eerily like John Mellencamp channeling a 20 year old Bob Dylan, with a bit of mid-period, ‘country honk’ Rolling Stones looseness thrown in for good measure. Hear this one enough times, and it’ll cause you to buy a used ‘58 corvette ragtop, grab a map of Canada, and hit the road. It also makes me want to drink beer…”
Truth be told, he didn’t know if it would turn into anything. Then again, when he first formed the Mike Plume Band in the mid ‘90’s he couldn’t be sure that would turn into anything either. In fact, up to that point, he had every reason to think exactly the opposite. “I was fired from every band I’ve ever been in except this one, and if this wasn’t called The Mike Plume Band, I would have been canned years ago.”
In 1994, on the heels of his debut, Songs from a Northern Town, Plume and his band hit the road hard, playing 200-250 one-nighters a year, and releasing two records in one year, in 1997, Song and Dance Man, and Simplify. The former sold more than 10,000 copies offstage along the way through Europe, the US and Canada.

In the end, though, it was Plume, not his band, who pulled the plug. Unlike a song, the road’s rough patches don’t get any smoother, no matter how often you go over them, and Plume has gone over them more often than most. Eventually, inevitably, some of those rough edges began to wear on him

The beginning of the end, Plume says, came four years later, after the release of the band’s last record, Fools for the Radio. “It was originally supposed to come out May 1st. Then we had a big ‘meeting of the minds’ and they said, ‘Know what, May 1st isn’t a good date – we pick September 11, 2001’.”

The day of their release the Band listened to 9/11 unfold on the BBC while driving to a gig in Bournemouth, UK. Rather than pack it in they kept right on driving. But fifteen months later Plume hopped out of the van in Boston to check into their rooms for the night, heard the screech of the tires and realized two things simultaneously. First, that he’d left the van in drive, and second, that it was time he put himself in park for a while. After six records, eight years, and over 1200 shows across Canada, The United States and Europe, Plume decided to put down roots and find out what it