A Polite Rebel

“He’s like a polite rebel; a truly unique and inspiring American voice.”  Boston Globe

Born and raised in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains inside the Town of Champion, Mike Powell’s love for music and songwriting started under the kitchen table where his guitar playing Father and Uncle would sit and sing old time country songs.  “I remember the feeling the music gave me and how excited I would get when they’d pull out their guitars” Powell said.  “I was amazed at the power of entertainment and how much music changed the vibe of a room.  Most kids get read bedtime stories, I did too — only mine were in the form of song.” 

At the age of 13 he taught himself to play the guitar and immediately began writing stories that could accompany his three chords.  By the time he turned 15 he already had a catalog of 20 or so songs that he would perform for his family alongside his Father and Uncle. Most people learn music by playing other peoples arrangements before they start to create their own, but Mike was different.  He was certainly influenced by people like Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and John Prine but he wasn’t interested in recreating anything — it had to be new, fresh and authentic to him.

After high school Mike Powell went on to Syracuse University where he became the most decorated college lacrosse player in the history of the sport.  After college he declined the offer to play professional lacrosse despite being the number one draft pick.  He packed up and moved to Denver, Colorado to chase his dream of singing songs and living life as an artist.  “When you’re an artist you live for creating.  If you aren’t in the process of making something, life feels stagnant like your wasting time and you get filled with a deep seeded drive for creation.”  It was this drive that put Powell on the road for the next ten years where he would travel back and forth across the globe playing his music in any venue that would take him. Touring alongside Woody Guthrie’s granddaughter Sarah Lee gave him a glimpse into a community of song lovers and music appreciators that shared a common view of roots music and felt the power of emotive story telling.

His live shows are best described as real.  He somehow manages to blend his folk songwriting style with a silky blue-eyed soul vocal styling that creates a sound as unique as himself. He is a relentless and prolific songwriter.  It’s not uncommon for him to perform a song that he wrote the morning of the show and one that he promises to never play again so he can deepen the connection with his audience allow them to truly be part of a moment in time.  He leaves his audiences inspired to chase their own dreams and embrace their respective journeys.    

In 2009 he released his first solo album “Replevin” and followed up with a full band offering titled “Kapow” where he recruited his favorite members of the Syracuse music scene to play alongside him.  Mike Powell is currently on tour supporting his most recent solo album “Tied To The Rail”.


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