|Bay Area guitarist Mike Wollenberg is best known for his work as a fingerstyle solo guitarist. By playing two or three parts simultaneously or by suggesting bass lines or chord patterns and allowing the listener’s ear to fill in the gaps, Mike is able to create the illusion of there being much more than just one guitar.
Recording projects include two solo albums, The Hand that Feeds Me and Just Another Fool on the Hill and inclusion on the Windham Hill collection of lullabies On a starry Night. He has also recorded with Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, Dave Balakrishnan, and Connie Doolan.
Mike’s most recent recording ‘A Common Language’, is a duo cd with Jazz violin great Julian Smedley. Recorded live in the studio with no overdubs, it finds Julian gallantly switching back and forth between violin and guitar in real time, while Mike plays guitar and marvels at Julian’s prowess. It’s an intimate musical conversation which often has a ‘more than the sum of the parts’ quality to it.
Mike grew up in Berkeley California playing a variety of acoustic styles. He was inspired by Doc Watson and Tony Rice, and for a time became involved in the Bay Area Bluegrass Scene. He even went through a guitar contest phase, winning the Salt Flat Hoedown flatpicking contest in 1977.
When Mike’s interest began to shift towards acoustic Swing music, he helped co-found, with Dix Bruce and Bob Alekno, the popular string swing and jazz band Back Up & Push (named after an old fiddle tune). BU&P was in the thick of the exciting new acoustic scene spearheaded by David Grisman and his Quintet, and performed with such notables as Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Juice Newton, mandolin legends Jestro Burns and Tiny Moore, Duck Baker and the David Grisman Quintet. In the 80s Mike became the bass player for Back Up and Push. In this role he developed a bassist’s sensibility -- the skill to create a groove to propel a band without the aid of drums. These elements would become intrinsic to his unique solo guitar style. Bass credits outside of Back Up & Push include performances with Vassar Clements and Laurie Lewis.
Mike’s solo guitar style is rooted in the great Joe Pass, Tuck Andress, Martin Taylor tradition but also draws heavily from his bass and acoustic guitar experience.
Mike's main guitars are a Gibson L-5 and a steel string flat top made by Ed Claxton.
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