I Need Wheels
With songs and a voice that consistently drip with lilting guttural emotion, the music of Mike Stack can take you to a craggy Maritime rock with a desperate Irish father or have you kicking up dust in a Texas honky-tonk along with two young Mexican lovers. Inspired by his songwriting heroes, John Prine, Dave Alvin, Guy Clark, and Steve Earle, and the people he meets along the way in this journey of life, Stack abashedly says, 'music, it's my life, my heart, my soul, my passion.' Not that he is necessarily embarrassed to admit it, just that as he says, 'who am I to say such a thing?' Mike Stack was born in France and with a father in the Canadian Air Force, the family soon relocated to Canada. Growing up in the Maritimes, it was Stack's mother and sister who were the most musical members of the family belonging to a folk group that toured to raise money for the poor. His first venture on stage was trying out for the part of Bill Sykes in a high school production of Oliver Twist. 'I think from a young age I never wanted to waste time and always felt if you are going to do something you do it well and give it all you got - and the solos for Sykes' character really showed that.' Stack got the part and earned rave reviews from his teachers and friends that lead to a scholarship at a prestigious international vocal course at Dalhousie University. He joined 100 other kids and 100 adults from around the world and, 'at the end of the course the instructors figured out I was the only student that had come without being able to read music.' Cruising through by an instinctive ear, Stack graduated from the challenging course with honours. Seven years later he bought his first guitar while working an outdoor education camp in the Rocky Mountains. 'My friends taught me a couple of chords, one year later I was doing café gigs covering Prine, Clark and Neil Young songs, and that is when my own original songs came flooding out.' Those songs and honing his performing skills earned him membership in The Burners, with fellow Calgarian Tim Leacock (National Dust, Beautiful Joe). In the late '80s, under the management of Neil MacGonigill (Jann Arden), the band opened shows for The Georgia Satellites, Blue Rodeo, Tragically Hip and Jeff Healy and released 'Low Tech High Torque'. In 1991, with songs and the crazy drive to be the CEO of a rock band, Stack pulled together The Grift. With guitarist Paul Rigby (Bocephus King) and Stack's originals and lead vocals, this bluesy rockn' Tex-Mex band was known for their energetic live shows playing the A club and festival circuit in Canada, and opening for Blue Rodeo and David Lindley. The Grift released two highly acclaimed recordings, 'Forerunners Gun' and 'Out in the Cold' before their break-up at the end of the decade. The new millennium found Stack on his own with a guitar case full of songs in a community of friends and family urging him to go it on his own. The result, 'I Need Wheels' released in November 2001 produced by Kit Johnson (Murray McLaughlin, David Wilcox), mixed by Danny Greenspoon (producer - Spirit of the West, Great Big Sea) and featuring many of his musical friends like the great Billy Cowsill, David Wilkie, Steve Pineo and Jane Hawley (Beautiful Joe), has indeed Stack's wheels rolling. After a sold-out CD release party of 500 people, the CD has earned a space on many a critic's top ten list, and has received airplay in England, Ireland, Japan, Belgium, Texas and across Canada. With original songs from 'I Need Wheels' and many others yet to be recorded, he continually wows crowds with his solo and band performances at prestigious festivals like the Calgary Folk Music Festival, and on many singer-songwriter stages in North America. So who is Mike Stack to say such a thing after all this? Listen to 'I Need Wheels', see him play, watch fans enjoy his music - you'll soon figure it out!