Q&A with Canada-based Mike Mackey, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and band founder, KINGS

"It's impact is massive. It brought cultures together in a positive fashion during a troubling 20th and 21st century I would say."

Mike Mackey: Renfrew County Rural Blues

Mike Mackey, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and band founder, describes KINGS' approach as “Renfrew County rural blues”, a form that “mixes blues elements with characteristics of country and folk, filtered through my experience.” Mackey has been writing and performing music in and about the Ottawa Valley for over a decade.

How has the Blues and Rock Folk Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

The realism of Lead Belly hit hard early on. His personal life was spellbinding and his creative furnance was original and ground shaking. Learning about Lead Belly kicked the door down regarding a musical and social/political counterculture. Another and equally important influence would be Billie Holiday. Amazing person and amazing artist. I'm not sure how exactly blues counterculture shaped my view of the world, but it certainly shaped too much of my own journey. Much too much.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

Simple, original Renfrew County rural blues written on a Stella guitar. I have no ideas whatsoever about the mysteries of the creative drive. I wish I did.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Irecently visited the mythical Rolling Stones Mobile Recording Van in Calgary, Alberta. It has been fully restored and is a ship shape analogue studio owned by Bell Studio. Being there was a high thrill. I'm a huge Jimmy Miller fan and loved his tenure with the golden era of the Stones. The atmosphere was magic. A very large percentage of the studio contains the genuine equipment used for the basis of Exile on Main Street.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I'm not sure that I do miss any precise element. That's what is so wonderful about records. It take the listener right to that great moment. My hopes are that good blues music will continue.

Make an account of the case of Blues n' Roots music in Canada. Which is the most interesting period in local scene?

Renfrew County and Ontario in general has pockets of blues that cook. Kingston, Ontario is a touchstone for blues. It has that elusive quality of being constantly creative in music. One of my favourite cities. Always a grand time.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in music paths?

Just keep going and it some how works out. You have to commit.

What is the impact of Roots and Blues music on the racial, political and socio-cultural implications?

Hard to calculate. It's impact is massive. It brought cultures together in a positive fashion during a troubling 20th and 21st century I would say.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

Better pay for musicians.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Maybe visit my grand-parents again...

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