Mike Michaels Program readies unique musical blend
by Bart Mendoza
Published - 02/08/12 - 01:15 PM | 5343 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Mike Michaels Program, a new trio comprised of veteran musicians, will perform at Winston’s Beach Club on Feb. 16.                                     Courtesy photo
The Mike Michaels Program, a new trio comprised of veteran musicians, will perform at Winston’s Beach Club on Feb. 16. Courtesy photo
“Listen Local Showcase” — the Thursday evening spotlight at Winston’s Beach Club — continues to be one of the best venues to catch live music from both rising talent and old favorites — sometimes a little bit of both. Such is the case with the Mike Michaels Program, a new trio comprised of veteran musicians performing at Winston’s on Feb. 16.

Featuring frontman and guitarist Michael Hoisington, bassist Will Rintamaki and drummer Brad Cunningham, the band came together in July 2011, putting together a slew of originals over the last seven months. Though classic rock comes to mind as an influence in their well-crafted tunes, Hoisington said it’s difficult to nail their sound down because of the three musician’s very eclectic musical tastes.

“[Our set lists range] from hard-core country to jazz to folk to pop to metal, [however,] we like to rock,” said Hoisington. “People ask me to describe our sound)all the time and I really don’t have a good answer. I have been playing guitar and writing songs for a while, and I think I have my own unique style. My bandmates tell me the same thing.  I like to call my music rock and let people make up their own minds.”

The Mike Michaels Program is currently performing an acoustic/electric-guitar-oriented set, but will be introducing a complementary harder-edged electric guitar set later this year. 

San Diego’s bar scene is known for its love of cover songs. However, The Mike Michaels Program is all about Hoisington’s original music. The response so far has been encouraging, he said.

“We’re just getting started,” he said. “We’ve played four shows so far, three at Winston’s and one at the San Diego House of Blues. We’ve been lucky to have a good turnout at all of our shows. People seem to like the music. We’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback.”

While many performers scramble to play as many concerts or sets as they can, Hoisington and his crew are taking the opposite tack.

“We are focused on playing only one or two shows a month to make it easy for our fans to come out,” he said. “We try to put on a good show and entertain our listeners, we also try to relax on stage and have fun. Hopefully that comes across at our gigs.” 

All three members of The Mike Michaels Program are veterans of numerous bands. Hoisington was a member of the Fresno-based national touring act Nightwings during the late 1970s. A guitarist by the age of 14 , he was inspired by “1960s music, country, folk and surf, Elvis, Buddy Holly, The Beatles, Hendrix, Iommi, Clapton, Beck and Page among others.”

Now a seasoned stage pro, he looks back on his first public performance with slight bemusement.

“I can’t remember exactly, but it was in a high school auditorium and it sounded horrible,” he said. “But my classmates loved it.”

While the members of the Mike Michaels Program create a very full sound, Hoisington said the reasoning behind the band’s trio format is pragmatic.

“It’s hard putting a band together and keeping it together,” Hoisington said. “Human relationships are complicated, including band interpersonal relationships. Everyone has an ego and an agenda. That’s just the way we are. Everyone has family and friends they have to spend time with.”

Factor in the logistics of rehearsals, live performances and recording, it’s easy to see why it can be difficult to make a band work long term. 

“Just getting the three of us together took some time and effort, and adding any more members would increase problems exponentially,” Hoisington said.

He said he considers himself fortunate to be playing with Rintamaki and Cunningham.

“They like my music,” Hoisington said. “They are good players. They have unique personalities, they are good people, they show up and they have supportive families and friends.”

Upcoming plans include more shows and an album this fall. In the meantime, Hoisington is clear on his favorite thing about being a musician: the sheer love of creating and playing music.

“It’s been said many times — and it’s true — music is a universal language that cuts across race, culture, economic status,” he said. “It touches us in profound, unique and influential ways. It inspires and excites me that I can communicate with people through my music.”  

• The Mike Michaels Program performs at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16 at Winston’s Beach Club, 1921 Bacon St.

7 p.m. No cover. 21 and up. www.themikemichaelsprogram.fourfour.com

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