Mike Manuele and I first crossed paths through my brother, John Rango, roughly 11-12 years ago. John would put together fun little jams and Mike was his go to on bass always, and it was easy to see why right away. Mike is incredibly versatile in his style, always playing to what the song calls for. Like me he is also a massive gearhead, and he and I would go on and on about guitars, amps, effects, you name it. During the time I was going through a divorce, and Mike was always there to listen. He'll give you honest advice and make sure he does so without bias, trying to see the other side and paint it in an understandable and relatable light. It's fitting because Mike's personality is exactly like his playing style- versatile, thoughtful, full of love, and badass all at the same time.
Mike and I really got going musically in 2012. Even though we had played prior, I was dealing with major physical issues stemming from 3 herniated discs in my neck. I reached a point where playing guitar was just barely physically possible, especially for long periods of time, so anything I could do up to that really consisted of nothing more than sitting in and strumming a tune or two on an acoustic guitar. The surgery I had been putting off for years out of fear ended up saving my left arm, hands and fingers. With the second chance at music, I was a hell bent banshee determined to regain what I had lost musically, and to reach new heights. John, Mike, and myself began playing regular open mic nights in Bergen County, starting out filling in at the famed Hilltop Tavern in Lodi. John soon found us an opportunity to begin our own Open Mic at the Bergen Brick Oven in Hackensack. With the help of great drummers like Alessio Marc Cupo and Jerry Squilante we were up and running in no time. What was cool is while we certainly played plenty of the typical blues fare you find at open mics, we still managed to break into alot of other genre's as well from Grateful Dead, Phish, Allmans, The Funky Meters, Lionel Ritchie, even Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was always a challenge each week and given that I was relearning my own guitar chops there was no place better for me to be, and most certainly no bassist better for me to be playing with. Mike once shared with me a video of Anthony Wellington, Mister Bassology, describing the 4 stages of awareness in music that changed my life and philosophy as a musician and a person. Every single musician should take the time to learn it. Without boring you with the details I can only say that thanks to Mike I have been on a journey to unconscious knowing ever since. Sometimes I get there, only to be reminded that I can never stay there if I continuously want to grow. But each time I visit, it is blissful!
Mike is a father to two young adult men who are the pride and joy of his life. We have shared in confidence the joy and pain of parenthood with each other many times, and I have always tried to give him the same perspective that he always gives me. Most of all though Mike is a great musician, great friend, and above all a great person. Beyond the Open Mic days Mike and I still do get to jam, and each time I'm immediately taken back in my mind to those days where I was wide eyed and relearning everything I knew. At one of the more recent jams Mike, John Rango, and Vincent Livolsi (all part of the Send The Flowers album), played Words In The Wind together. Mike wrote an incredible bassline for the song that I am honored to have recorded for the album, as well as on a couple other tunes. I am so grateful for these days and for Mike's part in them. If you follow Mike's Facebook page you'll find tons of pictures of random hearts in otherwise innocuous objects. Puddles on the ground, stains in a shirt, spaghetti sauce splatter, oil stain in a parking lot... if it's shaped like a heart Mike will notice it. It's fitting because Mike finds the heart in everyone he meets, and he gives his freely in return. You can catch Mike with his current projects, Mojo Hand, Grosvenor's Squares, That's The Touch I Like, and Dead on the Tracks, where he skillfully adds the Phil Lesh and John Kahn flavor while still retaining his own personality in everything he does. And most certainly you will catch him onstage with me in the future as well! Please give a visit and like to his projects below!
Mojo Hand: https://www.facebook.com/krazyOtto/
Dead on the Tracks: https://www.facebook.com/deadonthetracks
That's The Touch I Like: https://www.facebook.com/ThatsTheTouch