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Feature on Annie Reuter’s blog, You Sing. I Write

2017 March 27
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by Mike Vial

Thank you to Annie Reuter (Twitter: ) for sharing the story about my record & my thoughts on songwriting on her site.

Read the article and interview:

I met Annie Reuter at Rockwood Music Hall years ago during my first trip to NYC. We’ve stayed in touch over the years. She’s now moved to Nashville, writing cover stories for major music publications, yet still finds time to write on her own site.

I appreciated Annie taking an hour to chat we me on the phone about my record, A World That’s Bigger, and my songwriting process.


Wild Rose Radio Hour Taping – Join the Audience 3/25

2017 March 12
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by Mike Vial

Before my concert that Saturday night (3/25), we are taping a segment of The Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour. I’ll be the musical guest, and you can be in the audience for the taping at the theater in Plymouth, IN!

Taping: 1:30 PM – 3 PM

Tickets: $5  – buy here

The Wild Rose Moon Radio House is recorded in The Little Moon Theater on the lower level of Wild Rose Moon. The show is distributed on WVPE Public Radio and WTCA Radio AM/FM.

The show features musical director, John Bahler; announcer, Sid Shroyer, a poet; the Far Side of The Moon Players (a comedy act); and host, George Schricker.

The audience is an integral part of the show, and our Applause Technician, Judy Shroyer is on hand to get you all psyched up. So come join in the fun! Along the way we will hear four songs from Mike and find out a little about his songwriting methods–how the songs are inspired and put into play. Tickets are reasonable and its a fun treat for all ages.


[Playlist] World: Influences

2017 February 16
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World: Influences: Here’s a playlist of songs that inspired A World That’s Bigger:

When Mike Gentry and I went to the Burg cabin to record A World That’s Bigger in 2016, I brought a list of acoustic songs that had influenced me in some way during the writing process.

After listening, Gentry offered feedback on how we could get the best acoustic guitar sound while maintaining my goal to record the entire record live.

Here’s a list of those songs that influenced the record.

1. “Pink Moon” by Nick Drake

Nick Drake recorded his last record over three nights, mostly live.

In 2016, I told Gentry I needed to do my next record this way, fully live. Drake’s Pink Moon guided a lot of the process, and “Ghostwriter” is dedicated to him.

2. “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young
Aaron Noone taught me how to play “Harvest Moon” ten years ago. Young’s use of a drop-d turning and his chord shapes hint at “A World That’s Bigger.”

3. “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell
For the last few years, I’ve been exploring alternate tunings on the guitar. Basically, I teach myself a Joni Mitchell song, and then write a song in that tuning. Dave Van Ronk called “Clouds” is favorite by her, and I agree. I don’t think there’s a better song.

“Both Sides Now” is in a guitar tuning called open-D [DADF#AD]. I use this on “Ghostwriter,” and DADGAD on “Those Shoes” and “Girl on the Mountain, Boy on the Beach.”

4. “Someone Like You” by Brian Vander Ark
During college, I saw BVA’s perform in Kalamazoo at Craftbrau after the Verve Pipe went on hiatus, and this song has stayed with me. I love the way this BVA addresses the most powerful Muse, love.

Fun fact, I’m playing at the same Kalamazoo venue (now called Old Dog Tavern) opening for Frontier Ruckus, tomorrow!

5. “Against the Grain?” by City and Colour
A few years ago, I recorded at Catherine North Studios with Dan Achen and Michael Chambers simply because of the City and Colour album that was done there. I love this record so much for its sound; and also lines like, “When the day seems lost from the start/You must follow your heart.”

Dallas Green’s Bring Me Your Love approaches the discussion of death directly, even with the album cover, and that ended up getting into the back of my mind as a songwriter.

Death haunts us all, like a “ghost on the sidewalk.” Dan Achen died when I was still in the middle of working on Burning the Boats. Then my family had a long string of loss.

Maybe it’s more fitting than ironic that the music that guided me, gave me a bit of courage to embrace these topics in my own songwriting.

6. “Sweet Baby James” by James Taylor
James Taylor said he wrote this song as a lullaby for his nephew as he was driving to visit family.

I became an uncle and a dad in a short period of time, and those are the main themes of the record.

Also, these song by JT and City and Colour on this playlist highlight two themes side-by-side.

7. “Quiet” by John Mayer
Ok, honestly I was going to put “Neon” on this playlist, but “Quiet” fits the mood better. I’ve found myself shifting to more fingerpicking over the years.

My love of solo acoustic records was cemented by an obsession over Mayer’s first EP, Inside Wants Out. In 2000, I stumbled on John Mayer’s first EP from an Aware Records compilation, and then I found his site. Most of those tracks were just Mayer on acoustic guitar, and that’s still my favorite presentation of his music. I saw John Mayer play his first Michigan show in 2001 at the Shelter, and later that year at the Blind Pig.

8. “Please Forgive Me (Song of the Crow)” by William Fitzsimmons
The story of Fitzsimmons’s 2009 record about his divorce is heartbreaking, yet makes the songs that much more, sadly, powerful. Chris DuPont turned me on to Fitzsimmons’s music, and I devoured this record in 2013 and 2014.

I also chose to write about real life in my songwriting for A World That’s Bigger.  However, Gentry and I went in a different direction sonically for the acoustic guitar and vocal. There is a quite a bit of compression on this track, and if you listen to a song like “We’re Not Here Anymore,” you will hear how we intentionally choose use a less amount of compression on my record. I allowed Gentry to make the decisions on the levels, and he labored over them.

9. “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac
Another song about divorce, which is odd since my record is about love. However, one theme from “Landslide” guides the record: “Time makes you bolder/ Even children get older,/ And I’m getting older too…” I get requests to sing “Landslide” for people’s weddings, and I bite my tongue. (Haven’t you read the lyrics?) Maybe I was trying to write a better fit, with “Little Drum.”

10. “I Just Wanted You to Grow Old” by Nataly Dawn
Dawn’s record came out around the time Natalie and I moved to Ann Arbor to a tiny rental house on Maple Street. I was gigging six nights a week, and I would listen to CBC’s Laurie Brown’s the Signal on drives home. One night, Brown played Dawn’s record, and that became my favorite record. Four songs I wrote in that rental house ended up on A World That’s Bigger, and listening to Dawn takes me back to that time in rental house, too.

11. “Road” by Nick Drake
Like my record beings where it ends, I wanted to leave us with one more Nick Drake song. This song is so simple, yet feels like so much more because of the guitar parts.

It’s just one person, sitting in a chair, sharing a song.

New Video for “Kalamazoo” & Weekend Tour

2017 February 14
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by Mike Vial

Wow! Norovirus hit us multiple times here at the Vial/Burg house this month. I had to cancel a bunch of gigs, but fortunately, we are all well in time for an upcoming weekend tour in the Midwest!

On Friday (2/17), I’m opening for Frontier Ruckus in Kalamazoo at Old Dog Tavern to celebrate their new record! Tickets are $12: Buy here

On Saturday (2/18), I’m sharing a show with Chaz Hearne (Chaz & Alex) in Chicago at Uncommon Ground (Devon in Edgewater). Tickets are $8. Reserve seat here
Uncommon Ground, 1401 W Devon Ave, Chicago, IL 60660

On Sunday (2/19), I’m returning to the Chicory Cafe in South Bend to play an afternoon set in South Bend! Noon to 2 PM. No cover.

New Video, “Kalamazoo” filmed by Charles Steen:


Bandcamp Sale – Neutral Zone Donations

2017 February 3
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by Mike Vial
Bandcamp is donating all of their Friday profits to the ACLU today. I’m following their lead, and donating a 100% of my Friday sales to The Neutral Zone teen center in Ann Arbor.
$16 deal to download my entire entire catalogue, including the new record: click here
$12 sale on shirts (sadly, I only have five smalls left):
$10 + shipping A World That’s Bigger CDs: