I met Mike Flynn before I ever met him. Strange, right? Mike is a regular at the legendary Sunday Sandy Mack jams at The Asbury Hotel. Well at least they were there before Covid. Before I was blessed to be involved with Sandy Mack and the Jamily, I enviously watched pretty much every video I could of the jams. I would listen in awe to how clean and ripping Mike's playing was. It did not matter the genre, it didn't matter the song, Mike just owned it in every way and he always had a smile on his face. It didn't matter what other guests were there, my attention would always turn to Mike and his presence in the music. From blues to rock, bluegrass to jazz, Mike is a true professional over all genres.
I finally met Mike in person when Sandy Mack put together an amazing jam band celebration of music with Sandy's band playing Allman Brothers Band material. To put this in context, I am a huge Allman's fan. I paid $420 (yes it was $420 lol) for one ticket to see their very last show at the Beacon up in the rafters. This of course after I had already seen them 4 times prior that year at the Beacon. So to finally get to hear Mike in person playing some of my favorite tunes was something I was probably even more excited about than actually playing the Asbury Lanes my first time as well that night. Mike was like a conductor onstage. Sandy always gets the cream of the crop when it comes to musicians, but playing an entire set of Allman's unrehearsed also requires someone onstage to keep things in order, and Mike settled in perfectly. I learned so much in that night watching Mike. He not only was shredding slide like Duane Allman and melodic Dickey Betts riffs, he was focused on every other musician on that stage making sure they were all on the train and riding comfortably. And when it was one of their turns to shine Mike would lay down a bed of rhythm guitar that other musicians dream to play over. Simply put, Mike serves the songs as good as any musician out there.
What's really funniest to me about that night was just how kind Mike really is. Here he was telling me how he's a huge fan of mine and loves my playing, where as prior I convinced myself he didn't have a clue who I even was going into that night. I'm going to be really honest, he was so damn nice that I thought he must be putting me on but that was my own insecurities messing with my head. Over time I realized that is just who he is. He's genuine, he's honest, and he's about the kindest human being you'll meet. Everything he exudes on stage is exactly who he is off of it. I remember at a subsequent Asbury Lanes show, Mike was tasked with taking the lead on Miss You by the Rolling Stones. I was front and center watching from the crowd and Mike was completely in his element, showing of his signature strut while singing and playing. Trust me, when Mike's feet start shuffling during the song you know you are in for a truly special experience.
Once in a while someone does something kind for someone else without knowing the impact it could have on the recipient. Back during the thick of the Covid lockdown I was struggling. I don't do well with isolation and I dearly missed playing live music and even more so I missed my extended family through music. In my ongoing war with depression this period felt like my mental "Battle of the Bulge". It was long, tortuous, mentally taxing, and seemed like it would never end. One day I posted a video of me playing a song I wrote called Words In The Wind. About an hour later I scrolled through my feed and passed a video that sounded like me, but it wasn't the video I posted. It looked different. A little perplexed I turned up my volume and heard this magnificent lap steel being played over my song. As it became clear I realized it was a video of Mike Flynn playing lap steel along with the video of me playing Words In The Wind. For all the evils of social media, none can prevail over the goodness that can be done with it as well if we just choose to use it that way. In this case I'm not going to lie, I cried. The good cry, the kind with snot bubbles and blubbery words and everything that comes along with it trying to explain to my extremely concerned wife why I'm crying. I'm not ashamed to cry honestly, more often that not a good cry is sometimes just what you need to purge the mental funk. Here was a musician I so thoroughly admire freely taking time out of his day to play along with a song I created. Not just play, but so magnificently weaving these beautiful slide phrases throughout the song. I was so honored in that moment that any ounce of mental funk I had was completely evicted from my brain. I invite you all to listen to the video linked here. It will forever be one of the most special musical moments of my career. I hope anyone reading this takes heart to this-One simple act of kindness given freely can change a recipient's day. It can change their week. It can change their life. If we all stopped and thought "how can my next social media post help someone in their day/week/year/life", I think the modern world would be a much better place. Mike changed my life that day. But to Mike I am sure it was just like any other normal day because that's just what he does, he makes people around him better in every way.
Mike has been so gracious to record a formal track to Words In The Wind which will be part of my album, Send The Flowers. Sometimes there are moments where and instrument brings you into "the room" of the song. It's the instrument that makes you feel like you can close your eyes and feel the stage and ambiance as if you are there. Mike's lap steel does exactly that for Words In The Wind. It captures the emotion and makes you feel it and I am proud and honored to have him be a part of this album!
I've since had a few opportunities to play with Mike onstage and I cherish each moment I do while eagerly looking forward to the next chance, which I'm sure will come soon. Mike has played in so many amazing bands over his career including Citizen's Band Radio, Magnificent Mancini Brothers, and Panama Dead. Currently you can catch him at a Sandy Mack jam at Delvetto's and with his amazing New Riders of the Purple Sage tribute, Panama Dead. Links to his upcoming events are below, I implore everyone to go see him whenever you have a chance, you will not regret it! And while you're there, buy him a nice glass of the finest bourbon. Support local musicians!
Sandy Mack Sunday Jam returns April 11th:
Panama Dead at Village Brewing Company May 28th: