Mike Plume is one of the most glaring examples of the unfair nature of the music industry. You’d like to think that if you have immense talent and appeal and work really, really hard, you’d become a major star. But it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes, an artist just grinds away, developing a rabid following outside of the mainstream.
Don’t get me wrong, Mike has been successful and is known and loved by many. But for my money, he has written some of the best songs and put out some of the best albums this country has ever produced. For years, he led one of the best live bands on the planet, and they were willing to play anywhere and everywhere, and they did.
Mike, along with his oldest friend and drummer Ernie Basiliadas, along with guitar slinger phenom Dave Klym, and a couple of bass players, most notably Derek Mazurek, were and still are known as Mike Plume Band. In their most active years, from 1997-2002, they were fixtures in bars, theatres, and at festivals across Canada, into the U.S., and across Europe, performing, up to 250 shows in a year. Their shows and albums at the time, I believe, stand right alongside some of the biggest bands in Canada, like Blue Rodeo and The Tragically Hip.
But Mike never got the big-scale audiences or the acclaim that Jim Cuddy, Greg Keelor, and Gord Downie did. He ran into just about every roadblock you can imagine. He had bad management, he got ripped off, had deals that never really panned out, and opportunities that, through no fault of his own, did not work out. The band released an album called Fools for the Radio, which should have catapulted them into the upper echelon of Canadian bands, but it had the unfortunate circumstance of being released on September 11, 2001. And there are countless, incredible stories, many of which you can read at Mike’s website, mikeplume.com.
Eventually, he cut back on the touring, married the love of his life, another super-talented singer/songwriter named Jenny Orenstein, and kind of settled down into a quieter life. They have a daughter named Ruby who is blossoming into a major musical talent. Watch out for her.
But the songs keep coming, the stories keep getting written, and the stage keeps calling, and Mike keeps churning out powerful recordings.
His latest album, Lonesome Stretch of Highway, again, had the unfortunate circumstance of being released right at the beginning of a global pandemic. He took a day job to help pay the bills while he couldn’t tour, and the interview and training process helped him to realize and face that he’d been living with an undiagnosed learning disability since grade 5.
Never one to just sit around, Mike became one of the bright lights of online streaming shows over the past year and a half, as he went live once or twice a week for nearly a year.
You can support Mike and show him some love and buy him a coffee here: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/MikePlume
I’ve got a whole lot more of my chat with Mike and a bunch of music to share on my other show, Tell the Band to Go Home on the October 10 and 17 episodes. You can find and follow that show at tellthebandtogohome.com
“Ride” was originally recorded for the Mike Plume Band album Fools for the Radio (which you should really check out on Bandcamp) but was recently released as a single, which you can buy on iTunes.
“Remember to Forget” is from the Mike Plume album Lonesome Stretch of Highway, which you can buy on Bandcamp.