"I am contributing to this project because I strongly believe in the communicative power of music, and the effect it can have on the individual listener."
~ Mike June
Singer-songwriter Mike June has been touring constantly. In the past three years, he has played close to 600 shows, visiting 48 States, Canada and the UK. This breakneck pace, he says, is necessary for an artist like himself to survive in today's ever-changing music business . “I don't have much of a choice,” says June when asked why he spends most of his year on the road, driving six to eight hours a day, sometime only to play in front of a handful of listeners. "I'm doing this without a record label or radio promotion , so in order to connect with my fans, I have to go town to town and play my songs for people to hear them." With typical self-deprecating humor, he adds "I'm like a door-to-door song salesman."
A door to door salesman is an apt description for a man who has worked countless jobs in his time, including a stint as a vacuum cleaner salesman, to support his musical ambitions. “I've worked in landscape, construction, cooking, advertising and just about everywhere else. I worked as a garbageman for a while. It made me appreciate hard work.” But the one job that informed June the most as a musician was his time working as a talent agent, representing acts such as Janis Ian, Celia Cruz and the late Richie Havens. “I learned two things working as an agent. The first is that the music business has very little to do with music. Second, you don't need to be part of the 'music industry' to have a successful music career. There are tons of independent artists who have blazed their own path toward successful careers. I was able to see that at a relatively young age and it inspires me all these years later.”
A native of New Jersey, June started a his first band in 1999 and began playing in clubs in and around New York City. In 2002, he released his debut record, “Crooked” and followed it up with “Lovesick” in 2007. Both records were well-received, but he wasn't able to capitalize on the acclaim due to a heroin habit that landed June in jail several times. 2008, seeking a fresh start, June moved from New Jersey to Austin, TX, where he spent several years away from the stage and concentrated on his job as a music teacher in a local pre-school. When the school cut funding for the music program, the now-sober June found himself out of work. It was then that he committed himself to carving out his own path in music.
Since then, June has released two records: string-band stomper “Exile on Wilson Street” and the socio-political roots rocker “Talkin' Revolution Blues.” Both critically acclaimed records draw on June's experiences as a working-class American as well as his battles with addiction, depression and heartbreak. The songs on those records have found an audience not only in America, but across the Atlantic as well, "My story is the story of the everyday, average person: You work your ass off. You don't get paid enough. You don't get enough respect . You struggle to break even. And at the end of most days, you're left wondering if it's worth it. People everywhere connect with that. And more so these days.”
Despite the hard-hitting social commentary in certain songs like “Hard Times” and “Talkin' Revolution Blues”, June sees a light at the end of the tunnel: “I've travelled to every corner of this country, played in small-town bars in Iowa, living rooms in Pecos, Texas and art galleries in San Francisco. I've talked to a lot people, made a lot of friends, sat at a lot of kitchen tables and shared a lot of meals with a lot of different people from different backgrounds and it has given me a lot of hope for the future. I think the differences we have, like being left-wing or right-wing, are minor compared to our similarities. Basically, we all want the same things: a decent paying job, security and a little respect. We just have different ideas about how to achieve those goals. And I want people to see that.”
- Adam Dawson, thebrokenjukebox.com
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