Friday, November 9, 2012
The Sumner Brothers
21 and over
$8 advance, $8 day of show
Mike Coykendall was raised near the dead center of the contiguous 48 states of America in rural Norwich, Kansas. He began playing drums in junior high at the age of 12 and shortly thereafter learned how to play guitar. An older brother showed him how to play songs like "Day Tripper," "Johnny B. Goode," and "Interstellar Overdrive."
In 1984 Mike started a band in Wichita, Kansas named Klyde Konnor. Not long afterwards Mike bought a used Tascam 144 four-track tape machine from an ad out of the Penny Power (the local used goods resource). As Mike stated "I'd already read about this thing and I knew in my heart if I had one of these I could really get some of this creativity I was feeling out." Shortly thereafter he became obsessed with recording, using all his free time to record in the basement performing and recording all the instruments. This was the first incarnation of multi-tracked, solo, multi-instrumental Mike Coykendall recordings. This technique would later resurface on his solo records Hello, Hello, Hello and The Unbearable Being of Likeness.
Wichita's KMUW radio station had a late night underground music program entitled "After Midnight." Mike submitted a Klyde Konnor demo cassette and not long afterward the recording was being played on the air. The band was asked to play a fundraiser for the radio show with five other local bands. This was his first window into being a part of a scene of musicians who played all original material. Klyde continued to gig and make records between 1984 and 1991.
During this time, Mike also experienced a re-connection with traditional country music. He got a paying gig as a drummer in a local country band. It was there he learned to bend and break many of his rock habits to adapt to country music forms and styles. As he puts it "I learned to slow down the beat, play a loping rhythm or a country waltz." It was in this setting that Mike came to understand the cross-generational appeal of certain songs and styles.
In 1990 Mike married his wife Jill who would become a consistent musical collaborator for the years to come. After receiving a severance package from a job layoff, Mike and Jill decided to leave the heartland for San Francisco. They arrived in SF in 1991 and right away he began recruiting for his next band that would become the Old Joe Clarks. During this time in SF Mike struck up a friendship with Richard Buckner, who would have the Old Joe Clarks open for some of his shows and who came to be a champion of the band. As a three piece with Kurt Stevenson, the bands' first CD Town of Ten was recorded in 1996. Chicago label Checkered Past Records released the record in 1997. The record went to number 16 on the Americana charts and was well received by critics. In 1999, the band (now a six-piece) recorded and released Metal Shed Blues which was also released on Checkered Past Records.
While in San Francisco, Coykendall bought a ½-inch 8 track tape machine and began recording "quiet" records for friends in the his one bedroom apartment. Around this time he first heard a hushed six-song tape from a solo artist named Matt Ward. Later to be abbreviated to M. Ward. In 1999 the Coykendalls decided to move to Portland, Oregon where Ward had moved a few months earlier. Before leaving, a mutual friend told Mike he should call Matt when he got to Portland. He followed up on that friendly rejoinder and the two artists began playing shows in Portland and recording together.
By 2000 the Coykendalls had established themselves in Portland and it was during this time that the Old Joe Clarks recorded their third studio record November. He opened up his home studio (Blue Rooms) for business, working as an engineer, producer, and musician-for-hire. It was then he came to realize that he was a skilled and creative musical facilitator. It was in this studio that he came to record and perform on such records as Richmond Fontaine's Fitzgerald and Post to Wire, Tin Hat Trio's Book of Silk, M. Ward's seminal record Transfiguration of Vincent, Transistor Radio, POST-WAR, and Hold Time, ... to name a few.
In 2004-2005 Coykendall recorded his first solo record entitled Hello, Hello, Hello. His years of creating unique songs and recordings playing all instruments himself came together in the time that now could be spent in his own studio. After the finish of this record he needed to recruit a band to play all of his original compositions. So, out of a fertile field of Portland musicians he recruited Matt Brown, Scott Hampton, Scott DeMay, and Nathan Anderson Jr. This band would serve as the foundation for Mike Coykendall and the Golden Shag. From this band Nathan would be tapped to tour with M. Ward and Matt Brown for She & Him. Nathan Anderson Jr. has since left the band to be replaced by Jill Coykendall on bass. The scope of composition which Mike writes from ranges from elements of Beatlesque Brit-pop to full-blown psychedelic romps, plaintive heartland ballads to hard-driving four-to-the-floor rock 'n' roll. Streaks of John Lennon, Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd rest comfortably beside rootsy acoustic elements that point more to Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt.
During 2005-2006 Mike began steadily touring with the M. Ward band, putting on outstanding live shows where he would switch the bass and rhythm guitar duties (plus his outstanding whistling!). From these tours Coykendall began to connect and collaborate with a national and international world of recording artists and performers such as Gillian Welch, Bright Eyes, Jim James, and Victoria Williams. Many of these artists were people that M. Ward brought into the studio to produce himself, including Zooey Deschanel with She & Him. Mike went on to play multiple instruments on and engineer both She & Him records Volume One and Volume Two and he currently plays acoustic guitar in the touring band.
Meanwhile, he continued to record local Portland artists Blitzen Trapper who would come to break wide open with the 2008 release of their record Furr on which Coykendall recorded "Black River Killer" and "Lady On the Water." He would then go on to record all of 2010's Destroyer of the Void with Blitzen Trapper.
Since recording and touring with the M. Ward and She & Him bands, Mike Coykendall has been on Late Night with David Letterman three times, Conan O' Brien twice, Craig Ferguson three times, and an episode of Austin City Limits. It is a rare thing for an artist to share in so many circles great and small and to take it all in stride. Firmly transcending the title of journeyman or sideman, Mike Coykendall is a multi-dimensional artist and a sharing and thoughtful creative force. Bandleader, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, recording artist, and producer... It seems that the Great Spirit put the talents of many into the body of one man and he happens to be from the plains of Kansas to keep him humble.
Mike Coykendall and the Golden Shag have released 2010's The Unbearable Being of Likeness on Field Hymns records. They have consistently played exceptional live shows throughout the Portland area and have henceforth toured California and Washington to support the record. Mike is currently wrapping up work on a double-length record to be released sometime in 2011. After that he plans to continue touring on his own or with accomplices. So...stay tuned.