Dave Tracey Michael Messer was born in Middlesex in 1956. Throughout his childhood and teens he played rock music with his two brothers and in various local bands. In his early twenties, Messer spent time in Nashville where he had the chance to meet and hear some of the ‘greats’ of country music performing in their home environment. These included Roy Acuff, Hank Snow and Johnny Cash.
Back home in England in the late seventies, Messer was mastering the art of Mississippi delta blues slide guitar, buying his first National steel guitar in 1979. He began playing blues gigs, both as a solo artist and in various local bands in the early eighties. In 1983 he met Ed Genis and they began playing music together, a partnership that has lasted for the past two decades. During that year, Messer started gigging regularly with British blues singer, Mike Cooper, and through him he got known on the folk and blues circuit. In 1984, Cooper asked him to play slide guitar on The Continuous Preaching Blues, an album he was recording with Ian Anderson (now editor of fROOTS). The Michael Messer Band was formed in 1985 and they cut their first album, Diving Duck, in 1987 which received some fantastic reviews.
“Beautifully played. Diving Duck is the kind of album Ry Cooder should be making”. Q magazine In 1989 Messer produced and played on an album with the legendary Venice Beach busker, Ted Hawkins, called I Love You Too, which was later re-released as Nowhere to Run. In that same year he became friends with the late S.E.
Rogie and produced some tracks for his New Sounds of S.E .Rogie album. Messer’s second album Slidedance was released in 1990, and one year later, he was voted Acoustic Blues Artist of the Year at the B.B.C Awards. “To say that Messer is a slide guitarist is like describing Mother Theresa as a nun! Slidedance is possibly the finest blues / world music album of the year. One of the best slide guitarists Britain has ever produced”. Time Out Rhythm Oil, a trio album with songwriter Terry Clarke and Texas guitar ace, Jesse ‘Guitar’ Taylor, was released in 1993.
The CD boasts sleeve notes written by the late Johnny Cash, a rare honour shared with Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson. “What I hear here is the real thing - Bare-bones blues gut-bucket rural rock. This record carried me away to a long time ago, down a delta dirt road to a land of my musical good-old-daysing. PS…Don’t squeeze the trigger, if you can’t stand the recoil.” Johnny Cash 1995 saw the release of Moonbeat, which featured a mixture of world music and blues, as well as DJ Louie Genis (son of rhythm guitarist Ed) scratching old blues vinyl.
A practise that became popular a few years later with the likes of Little Axe, Moby and R.L. Burnside. “MOONbeat is an extraordinary, innovative album that deserves to be heard”. In 1999, Messer went to Alberta to record with Canadian guitarist/songwriter Doug Cox. One of Cox’s songs from the sessions, Cold When I’m Dead, which features Messer playing electric slide guitar, can be heard in the latest Terry Gilliam movie Tideland. In 2001 Messer released King Guitar, a compilation album comprising of sixteen tracks from back catalogue.
The album received critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, reached number one in the US Living Blues chart and in May 2001 was the most played album on US college radio. One prominent American reviewer described him as “an unavoidable force in modern blues” and commented that “King Guitar has met a new century with style, grace and a new colourful direction for the music”. Second Mind, recorded and released in 2002 followed the widespread success of King Guitar. This highly anticipated and critically acclaimed album featured Messer’s regular band, plus the great Ruby Turner on backing vocals. DJ Louie Genis came back into the fold and this time instead of working on one or two tracks, he cut loose and played on the whole album, creating a sound that was both totally contemporary and very traditional.
The album won the Best Blues Guitar Album at the 2003 International Guitar Federation awards, beating other nominees including Chris Rea, Sonny Landreth and Eric Bibb. On ‘Second Mind’, Michael delivered a set of recordings that stretch across the musical landscape. Deeply rooted in and inflected with the blues, the album incorporates a rich and diverse texture of different styles that appeal to an array of musical tastes. ‘Michael Messer is one of the most important bluesmen in Britain and mightily relevant throughout the blues world. He has progressed from being an excellent technician – on the National Steel especially, to being in the vanguard of the 21st century blues.
And that doesn’t mean he has forsaken traditional values either. A beautiful amalgam of history and foresight; musicality and grit; blues, boogie and beats -Second Mind is a work of near genius’. Joe Cushley – Mojo/Blues Matters Messer signed to Cooking Vinyl in 2005 and released his eighth album, Lucky Charms, in February 2006. Recorded and mixed the old way with no digital trickery or computers, just reels of tape, live performances, an old mixing desk and a lot of patience.
The album features ten original songs. Louie Genis, now very much a part of the Michael Messer sound, is scratching and texturing with loops, old vinyl and home made samples, and the music has a more acoustic feel to it than Second Mind. Ed Genis is playing rhythm guitar, Richard Causon is on keyboards, Jerry Soffe is on bass, Simon Price is on the drums, and of course Michael Messer is singing and playing slide guitar. Lucky Charms has garnered some fantastic reviews and along with recent tour dates, festival appearances and live sessions for various radio stations during 2006, Michael Messer is becoming known worldwide for his unique sounding band, Michael Messer & the Second Mind Band. In 2007 Soyuz Music in Russia released Lucky Charms, Second Mind & King Guitar.
The albums are garnering excellent reviews and magazine coverage in the Russian press. 2007 also saw the release of National Debt’s CD, ‘From the Horse’s Mouth’. The album was featured on Mark Lamarr’s BBC Radio show and received great reviews from the British music press. In November 2007 Michael Messer & BJ Cole debuted their steel & slide guitar show ‘That Sliding Sound’ at the International Festival of Guitar in Lancashire.
The show was a great success and Michael & BJ are planning to make a DVD & CD of ‘That Sliding Sound’. In July of 2007, along with the Campbell Brothers and Debashish Bhattacharya, Michael Messer was one of three featured slide guitarists at the Cognac Blues Passions festival in France. Later in 2007 Michael Messer & Ed Genis played to an ecstatic crowd at the prestigious ‘Issoudun Guitar Festival’, which is also in France. 2008 started with a run of sell-out UK tour dates for both Michael Messer & Ed Genis, and Michael Messer & the Second Mind Band. This year also marks twenty five years of Michael Messer & Ed Genis playing together as a duo.
Summer - 2008 and Michael launches his own range of resonator guitars. Not many guitarists would be brave enough to step into guitar design on their own, but that’s exactly what British slide expert Michael Messer is doing with the launch of these two new resonator models Michael Messer’s significance as a blues artist is further confirmed by his inclusion in “The Virgin Encyclopaedia of the Blues.” Messer’s name appears alongside many of the blues ‘greats’ who influenced his playing. Newtone® Guitar Strings in conjunction with National Reso-phonic® Guitars have a Michael Messer brand specifically made for the National steel guitar, which reflects the esteem in which he is held. These are the brand leaders in their field and used by most National steel players around the world. WEBsite: www.michaelmesser.co.uk/ Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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