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Tour Updates for 2018

2018 May 12
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by Mike Vial

Summer 2018 Tour Update:
Mike Gentry//Mike Vial
Gentry and I are hitting the road this summer to celebrate Gentry’s new record release. More dates to come, but here’s what’s confirmed:

May 19 – Coffee Amici, Findlay, OH
June 28 – Raven Cafe, Port Huron, MI
July 10 – The Ark, Ann Arbor, MI (RELEASE SHOW!)
July 14 – Purple Fiddle, Thomas, WV
July 15 – Purple Fiddle, Thomas, WV
July 16 – Funhouse @ Mr. Small’s, Millvale, PA
August 17 – Blue Owl Coffee Co., Lansing, MI
August 18 – Ruthmere Museum, Elkhart, IN
August 19 – Uncommon Ground, Chicago, IL
Facebook Events: Click here

Photo Credit: Doug Coombe, 2018

February 2018 Update: 
What a great winter break and set of gigs. Thanks to friends in Flint, Brighton, and Ann Arbor for indulging in my musical musings this week! I sliced my finger the day before break, and I’m so glad I could still pick the guitar.

Anyways, I’m taking a month off from gigging to work on new songs, grade freshmen essays, and spend time with my family. I’ll emerge for a St Patrick’s Day gig at mash (6-9 pm) in Ann Arbor.

Also, Mike Gentry Music and I are touring together in the summer. Be on the lookout for Gentry’s new record later this year! If anyone wants to host a house concert, email me at We are currently booked in MI, OH, PA, WV. Openings in June-August.

Big thanks to Doug Coombe for shooting photos of Gentry and I yesterday. The mash bar let us use their brick walls and Edison lights as a backdrop. I’m happy to have new press photos soon!

Catching the man behind the camera, Doug Coombe, snapping a shot of Mike Gentry.

Catching the man behind the camera, Doug Coombe, snapping a shot of Mike Gentry.


Michigan Music Spotify Playlist

2018 March 3
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by Mike Vial

TL;DR: A Spotify playlist of Michigan music that leans towards folk, acoustic, pop genres. Follow here:

“Scaling the Peaks of Michigan Music”

I released my first record 10 years ago, using money earned from teaching freshmen literature and playing gigs at horrible sports bars.

Mike Gentry & I at mash bar, Ann Arbor 2018. Photo credit: Doug Coombe

Mike Gentry & I at mash bar, Ann Arbor 2018. Photo credit: Doug Coombe

And this cracked western cedar guitar–the one that saved my life–continues to join me on every trip to corners of Michigan one would never think to visit, if it wasn’t for some chance to strum and sing; this crazed pursuit of music that leaves one energized or exhausted, every day.

I continue to meet other cracked guitars and hands, those who insanely pick up the stones of creativity too, ones who know what it means to drop it down the jagged edges of the mountain, again and again.

I’ve been slowly collecting my favorite songs from these Michigan artists I’ve met on the road, and I want to share some with you.

You might hear your next favorite song. You might find the next famous songwriter before the rest of the world does. Or you might be inspired to travel to a tiny coffee house in a small town you didn’t know existed, just to hear that person scale the peaks of song again.


Setlist 17 Feb 2018 – Flint Folk Music Society

2018 February 18
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by Mike Vial

Flint Folk Music Society, Flint, MI

  1. Girl on the Mountain, Boy on the Beach
  2. One Way Road
  3. Running on Empty (Jackson Browne)
  4. A World That’s Bigger
  5. Damn Fine Day
  6. I Just Want to Be Your Last
  7. Little Drum
  8. Don’t Mess Around with Jim (Jim Croce)
  9. Set 2: Two Angels (June 22, 1996 – Ann Arbor)
  10. Burning Bright
  11. God Only Knows (Beach Boys)
  12. I Will (If Your Plane Is Late)
  13. Only the Rain Knows Why
  14. California Cries (May 30, 1942 – San Leandro)
  15. Free to Dream
Fun night in Flint! Thanks for posting photos, hereLori & Barbara!
Gig #1182 is one for archives: I sliced my left index finger while teaching Thursday. (Don’t ask how. Fifth hour won’t let me forgot it!) After it happened, I thought for sure my Saturday gig was ruined. After the doctored glued up the cut, he said go for it! I’m so happy I got to play tonight.

The Ripple Effect of Another School Shooting

2018 February 16
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by Mike Vial

I haven’t been able to comment about the horrible gun violence that happened in Florida with any clarity until I got an email from a parent that brought me to my knees. I need to share an anecdote from my classroom.

Yesterday, one of my students rocked his test on Wednesday. He should have been ecstatic on Thursday. Instead, he wasn’t acting like himself. He got really upset about an interaction with another student, when normally neither student have disagreements.

That afternoon, I emailed parents sharing my restorative goals I had for both students.

One parent wrote back and said her son recognized that he wasn’t acting like himself in school. He realized he was so upset about the shooting in Florida, yet didn’t know how to feel in school Thursday, nor how to talk about it.

I broke down and cried at my desk before school started this morning.

Look, this is *not* normal. We need to stop allowing these shootings to remain a part of the fabric of our lives. Columbine happened during my senior year of high school, and it CHANGED the conversation of everything. Now, I’m a teacher, and we face these events as if they are to be expected.

The ripple effect of these shootings is affecting the psyche of our country, destroying communities.

It is time for us to have a sustained conversation about gun violence. The next generation is being asked to accept the unacceptable when we–as government leaders, adults, and voters–don’t act.

It is time to frame a conversation about gun violence that leads to change, and demand elected leaders to engage in this debate. It is time to address military grade weapons, mental health needs, and suitable changes to gun control.

It is time for those who agree on this position to not be swayed or be silenced.

Thank you for reading. May God bless the families in this time of need. May our reflections lead us to sustained action. Our children learn from watching us; may they watch us end this.


City & Colour’s Bring Me Your Love, 10 Years Old

2018 February 12
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by Mike Vial

Bring Me Your Love is 10-years-old. What’s that cliche about time flying?

For me, time takes me back to road trips through Ontario.

Bring Me Your Love changed my life while I was teaching in Holly. I listened to Dallas Green on repeat to get through lonely times while living in Fenton, the year before I met my wife.

On a whim, I wrote a Myspace message to the producer, Dan Achen, asking if he had time to record a high school teacher who wrote some songs.

Dan wrote me back and said, “Let’s do it!”

So there I was in 2009, crossing the border to Canada, driving to this amazing place: a church converted into a recording studio.

The bell would ring on Friday. I’d leave Holly High School’s parking lot, drive four hours to Hamilton–while listening to City and Colour on repeat–and soon find myself standing in the same place where my favorite record was cut. I was playing the same instruments used, too, including a pre-war Martin acoustic! (Dan had the *best* guitar collection!)

Plus, the studio would let me sleep in the basement to save money during those weekend-recording-marathons. I’d grade papers at night after long days of recording with a red pen in my right hand, a pint of Canadian ale in my left.

In March of 2010, between first and second hour, I found out Dan died of a heart attack. I called Michael Chambers from the staff bathroom to see if the news was real. I was wiping tears from my eyes as a pack of 30 freshmen entered my classroom. (I think we were reading Romeo and Juliet’s Act II. s3 that day: “The gray-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night.”)

I only got to spend a few weekends with Dan, but he changed my life. After Dan died, I committed to leaving teaching to do music full time, partly because I saw how short life could be, partly because Dan showed an interest in what I was making.

And I formed friendships in Canada that I’m so lucky to have after all of these years. Michael Chambers and I would go on to finish more recordings at Catherine North Studios between 2011-2013.

It was all because of this record by City and Colour.

And now it’s ten years later. A pack of freshmen will be coming into my classroom tomorrow, and this record will be playing in the background as they enter.