Mike June (episode 30)

photo by Klaas Guchelaar

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This episode is a cautionary tale about how an artist can work hard, have talent and something to say, then just when their career is starting to take off, through no fault of their own, the rug can get pulled out from underneath and they’re back at the beginning, if not questioning whether music is even the right direction.

Mike June has a wealth of music industry experience behind the scenes and on stage. He’s toured extensively with Texas songwriting legend Jon Dee Graham and his accomplished and amazing wife Jess Klein.

As he was about to release a masterpiece of an album, Poor Man’s Bible, a number of broken promises and missed opportunities, through no fault of his own, set him back and had him questioning whether music was even the right path for him.

But his keen eye, quick wit, insights and informed and experienced opinions kept finding their way into songs that just had to be written, performed, and recorded. He’s preparing to make a comeback with an upcoming album, Modern American Folk Music, which will finally come out on August 30.

He spoke to me from his home in North Carolina.




His official bio:

Mike June makes decidedly timely music, but he does far more than document an era of unease. He has mastered the precarious balance between despair and hope and rendered it melodic across six albums, including Poor Man’s Bible, Exile on Wilson Street, and Lovesick. “It’s discovering artists like Mike June that makes this all worthwhile; he can certainly write a song; and the theme throughout of the ‘working man of all colors and persuasions is being trampled on’ and his execution of those songs is second to none,” writes the Rocking Magpie music blog of Poor Man’s Bible. They add that June “certainly has his finger on the button in a way Bruce hasn’t had for 20 years or more.”

Born in rural New York and raised in New Jersey, June did a stint in Austin (where he made 3 records, including Exile on Wilson Street) before moving to North Carolina. Music has always been a big part of June’s life. “I started pretending to play music at around age 3, miming Kiss songs with the neighbors, and strumming on my Grandfather’s guitar while he sang Hank Williams’ songs,” June remembers,“I got into my first bands in high school, and formed my first professional band, Wide Load Joad, in 1999 before going solo and forming Mike June & The Dirty Doves in 2001.”

Since then, June has released 6 records, an EP and several singles, all critically acclaimed, and has built a reputation as an incendiary live performer, logging in over 150 nights a year on the road in the US, Canada, and Europe from 2012 until recently, when Covid-19 put an abrupt end to touring. Over the years, June’s focus on the very real stories of very real people has remained intact.

“His music is what my generation needs, and what older generations need to remember. He sings love songs about the human experience – sometimes his own,” writes The Austin Chronicle, “I consider him a storyteller of the revolution.”

Music Credits:

“21st Century Man” is available on Bandcamp

“Alright” is from Election Day, available on Bandcamp

“Never Gonna Break Me”, by Jess Klein, is from When We Rise, available on Bandcamp

“The Darkness”, from Poor Man’s Bible, is available on Bandcamp

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