Grand Lake / Live Music: Mike Dixon: One-man band a ‘band of one’
August 22, 2008
Sax, flute, fiddle, bass, keyboards ” With honed skills in at least six other instruments, it is easy to understand how Mike “Hunter” Dixon can play “a little bit of everything.”
Dixon also plays guitar, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, drums and other percussion instruments.
The Loveland-based singer, songwriter and musician has one song in which he plays five instruments.
His mother played piano and his grandfather played the fiddle, but it was the talents of his Uncle Bill Jones that Nixon will never forget. His uncle, a stand-up comic during the Vaudeville days, could tap dance and was in several early television episodes. He and Nixon’s dad would “put on quite a show” for family reunions out at their farm house in North Carolina.
Nixon had a year of piano lessons at age 7 and by age 11 he had already joined rock ‘n’ roll band Steve and The Vibertones as the lead singer. He had such a good time that he kept it up and started learning to play the guitar, inspired by good music in general, any genre, but usually gravitating toward any unique sound that draws his attention.
Whether he is dubbed a one-man band or a “band of one,” versatility is his calling card. He’s played with rock groups Livewire, The Reacher and Second Wind, bluegrass band Naughty Pine, and with acoustic groups Country Folk, SwampFox, Trapper and EZ Street. There were so many band members named Mike along the way that Dixon’s girlfriend nicknamed him “Hunter” after the Great White Hunter, because of his white hair.
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He wrote all of the songs and sang all of the vocals for his first album “Sleep in Your Next Life,” which was released in November 1995 and he also plays a wide range of popular covers. Favorites include the work of legends like BB King, the Beatles, Billy Joel (especially “New York State of Mind”), Dan Fogelberg, Dire Straits, the Eagles, Elvis Presley, Eric Wiesberg, James Taylor, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Buffett, John Denver, John Prine, Kingston Trio, Neil Diamond, Rolling Stones, and Stevie Ray Vaughan (especially “Cold Shot”).
On the Front Range he plays for the dance band Sh-Bang with vocal harmonies and Latin, Motown influences. He’s also known for his high-energy solo performances and tonight Dixon plays a variety of tunes “with a hint of bluegrass” in the courtyard at “The Wac.”
After hearing him play at a private party, Waconda owners Doris and Egon Braun approached him about playing out in their patio. Never staying with one type of music, the gig is a perfect fit for Nixon, who is able to connect with a wide audience and play just about any-size venue.
“I like to mix it up,” he said.
With many new songs to learn and quite a few new ones he’s written for a future album, Nixon said he’s eager to showcase some of his fresh stuff. He loves making the trip over Trail Ridge to Grand County to play, thanking hosts Bill and Dena for helping him get into the music scene in Grand Lake. The mountain trip “gets me started,” he said, and “then we have the lake, the mountains and wonderful people. Who wouldn’t be excited?”