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Michael Waters on Performing Solo

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Recently I was out walking late one evening when I heard the call of music coming from a nearby restaurant. When I located the source I found it was coming from the pub's deck. So I found a place to sit nearby and listened from afar to the last few songs of the closing set.

It was a solo act, acoustic guitar and vocals, playing popular songs from now and then. I asked a couple standing on the lawn if they knew his name. They said "no" but they liked him and also wanted to know who he was. I proceeded up the stairs and to the entertainer's station just in time for his last number. A Johnny Cash song. He announced his name as Mike Waters. Afterword I had a moment to speak with him and found him to be a very nice and engaging young man. We set up an interview so I could learn more about him and his musical calling.

"I have known Mike Waters for many years and he is one of the most well rounded/talented guitrarist/singers you'll find.  He can go from "Cash" to "Clash" and covers about any genre.  Not only that, he is a great friend and one of the nicest people you'll ever meet!"  -  Butch Oneppo of The Oneppo Brothers (Duo and Band)

I found out he is a full time musician and has been performing as a solo act for about 16 years, loves spending time with his wife when he's not working, likes to cook, and is into martial arts. Check out the interview below to learn more.

Michael will be performing at Romare Bearden Park (First Ward Park) by Knights Stadium In Charlotte, NC today (Wednesday, August 3rd) from noon until 1:30 pm. Later in the evening you can catch him at Blackfinn at the Epicenter of Charlotte from 9:00 pm until midnight.

Thursday August 18th, he will appear at Hobo's Restaurant, a popular grill and pub on Main Street in downtown Fort Mill, SC. They often have live entertainment such Mike, The Oneppo Brothers (as a duo), and Frank Sciandra (of the Chubby Knuckles Band) playing there. I've even caught Kristy Marett of The Ocean Breeze Band sitting in on one occasion. They have a generous lawn and deck on the outside with bar and seating inside. It's a wonderful place to spend these hot summer evenings rain or shine while enjoying the food and entertainment.

How long have you been performing as a solo act? 

Michael  I've been performing solo ever since my first full time band Control Freak disbanded in 2000, so about 16 years. 

Since I was very young, I was always a huge music fan. For example, at age 6, after much begging (and much to my mothers chagrin) my dad took me to my first concert: KISS. I still remember returning home to announce: I wanted to be Ace Frehley when I grew up.

I grew up in a very musical family.  My mom was a great singer in our church choir & piano player. My sister was a monster piano player & my brother was a guitar virtuoso.  I wanted to start learning guitar as soon as I knew about music; but, my mother insisted I begin with piano lessons.  After about 2 years of intense piano lessons, I moved onto drums, in school band.  After about 3 years on drums, I transitioned into full time guitar around the age of 15.

Why did you choose to go solo?

Michael  Well, it was more of a necessity at the time, I'm a full time musician, and my  band had just broken up, I needed to work. Luckily my friend Thomas Macaluso who ran The Graduate Uptown Charlotte suggested I do some solo dates there.

I had never played any solo acoustic gigs before, only duo stuff with the bassist from Control Freak. 
Booked a few dates there, which turned into an every Wednesday night engagement. Did that for about two months, when Thomas asked if I'd be interested in an every Friday night set; well I couldn't pass it up. Did that set for several months, and once I got a new band together(Mob) he let me do a bi weekly set to accommodate the bands gigs. Got a lot of exposure and sets at other venues from that gig. I really do credit Thomas with getting me started with my solo career.

Name a few songs you play that are always popular with your audience?

Michael  Definitely Johnny Cash "Folsom Prison", "Cocaine Blues" and "Ring of Fire" always get a good response. "Fishing in the Dark" by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band goes over really well, and I would say the Marvin Gay stuff "Whats Going On" and "Lets Get It On", gets a good response as well.

Do you write songs?

Michael  Yes I do! All the time, actually working on some new stuff now.

Do you also play your own material at gigs? If so how much do you mix it in with songs by other artists?

Michael  I do, at the moment I only mix in about 2-3songs per show, mostly songs I wrote with Mob and Control Freak. I hope to add more of my own periodically, especially after I have some of the new stuff recorded.

Other than music what are some of your hobbies or pastimes?

Michael  I'm such a homebody when I'm not gigging, ha! I love to cook, so pretty much love to spend a Sunday or day off, chilling with my wife and 2 dogs, cooking, eating and drinking some good wine. Love hanging with friends & family, sharing a meal and some good food, whiskey and wine.  I am also an insanely big football fan, so I love watching my Auburn Tigers and Denver Broncos play when I can( I know that's gonna piss most folks off around here) My wife is also a big sports fan, loves the Yankees and the Bills so on Sunday's during football season we're usually switching between the Bills and Broncos, and Yankees if they've made it to October.  I'm also really into martial arts and train in Wing Chun and Kali Silat, helps keep my old butt in shape. Love motorcycles as well, had a 68 Triumph Bonny  and 75 Honda 500t at one time, couldn't find the time to keep em running, so had to sell them, can't wait till I'm able to get another bike. That's pretty much about it.


How does one go about booking you for an engagement?

Michael  You can reach me through my website at mwatersmusic.com, Facebook or by calling me at 704-281-1316

Who are some solo performers that you like? 

I would say regionally would have to be more of national acts for me..Jason Isbell, Chris Cornell, Ray Lamontagne, and Jeff Buckley.

The Oneppo Brothers (duo or band). Been watching those guys forever, and they're better than ever, and that's saying a lot! Actually distant relatives through marriage on my mother;s side of the family.

What have you learned about performing solo that you wished you had known earlier?

Michael  That's a good question. I think maybe how isolated but liberating it can be. When you're in a band you and your other bandmates help each other out no matter what the circumstances of the night may be. I'm lucky enough to be in a band like that. However, when your solo it's just you, your guitar, and your voice. Every piece you choose to play it's on you to get your interpretation of that piece across to your audience, get them into your vibe,  it's kind of liberating and terrifying at the same time to me.

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