Winter Park / Live Music: Sampling his way to the soul
March 7, 2008
“Everybody has wreckage,” said local musician Mike Haas. “Sometimes music helps us get straight with ourselves and others.”
When they’re not on stage together, Haas and his wife work as therapists and Haas said, through the job, he is “constantly touched by the creativity, vulnerability, losses and resilience we experience as people. Sometimes our greatest trials serve as catalysts for amazing growth.”
Haas said spirituality is a major part of his life and creativity.
Songs “Easy Does It” (a tribute to friend “Bill W.”), “Waiting on U” (about the tension of living by faith and hope), “Friend of Mine” (a tribute to his sister who passed away in 1989), and “Apologies” (Mary’s favorite about resolving regrets and making changes) are examples of songs that reflect his that spirituality.
Other songs, he said, don’t have such a profound meaning behind them. “Lots of times, I just like to rip through some cool blues or jazz changes because it’s just good, clean, rowdy fun,” he said.
He is scheduled to perform an “electronica show” as the next featured performance at Java Mic Night at Rocky Mountain Roastery in Fraser. Wife Mary joins him on bass for her first live show and photographer Art Ferrari will set up a photojournalist sampling showcasing his recent trip to New Orleans.
The show is set to include “some high-energy interpretations of blues songs, but most of the show will be rolling out original interpretive guitar pieces.” Haas said he sings “like a sick cow” so his music is an instrumental mix of blues, rock and jazz. He plays guitar, as well as bass, and dabbles on keys and said he has too many guitars (13) and amps but that it never seems to be enough.
He’s also really into technology “so I work with production techniques that feature a lot of techno-electro stuff.” (He’ll be bringing along his iMac to handle synths, backing guitar parts, beats “and various odd noises”.)
The day he ditched school with his brother to see the Beatles on Ed Sullivan marked a milestone for Haas.
“Believe me, that is a big deal for kids growing up in the Crescent City,” he said. “I was hooked.” It was then that he “developed a love for and fascination with music,” he said, adding that he was especially moved to see that, like him, Paul McCartney played left-handed bass.
After seeing the Beatles perform, his brother started learning to play the guitar and when he was out, Haas would “steal some moments on his guitar, playing it upside down (and) trying to teach myself stuff.” Although their parents weren’t as musically inclined, they could see their sons’ interest and Haas said they took them out to see shows like Pete Fountain, Al Hirt, Paul Guma and Chet Atkins.
Haas found inspiration all around him and especially in life’s memorable experiences and work by other artists. Favorite artists include Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Johnson, Ronnie Earl, the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead, “and great jazz players like Ray Brown, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington.” He also admires Dire Straits and is a huge Mark Knopfler fan. “Knopfler once said he is often inspired to write songs in a flash just by a simple observation or interaction,” he said. “I can really relate to that.”
Haas wrote is a song called “Desert Wind Blues,” which was his way of remembering a trip he took from New Orleans to California in June with a bunch of guys in his college days. Another example is song “Ridin’ the Sunset Limited” whose inspiration came from a ride on an Amtrak train. The song he eventually wrote about it was submitted to Guitar Player magazine as part of its worldwide “Ultimate Guitar Player Competition” and Haas finished as a finalist in the country blues category.
Much of the material he’ll play for the tonight’s show will be incorporated into his next album, tentatively called “Grace Abounds,” set for release next fall.
“I’m excited to be opening yet again a window into my soul by sharing these pieces with Grand County through Java Mic Night.”