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There are some people you talk to who give you something just from their conversation.  It's those folks whose well-lived lives contribute so much to the rest of us.  This musician with a background like Ernest Hemingway is Mike Aiken.  Mike is a songwriter and performer who has lived a life most other folks would just dream of.  While genres have changed, folk, Americana and roots music have evolved over time, adopting traits and sounds from Folk, Bluegrass, Blues and old time Country, the one common thing contained within that swirling imaginative cauldron of inspiration is the songwriter who writes with integrity and honesty about his/her experiences. In 1997 Mike Aiken sailed his floating home to the Chesapeake Bay, in Virginia, with a sea chest full of stories earned from years sailing abroad. As a songwriter he put pen to paper and started to draw on his colored and colorful life, from his self-sufficient farming days, raising animals and shoeing horses, to the last 20 years spent sailing/living aboard his sailboat including crossing oceans and being a licensed USCG captain.  There are very few people in the world that can claim a history like that, much less songwriters.

While extensively touring in the US and Europe and sailing his boat across the Atlantic to distant ports, Mike has never stopped developing his entertaining style. Over the years Mike has developed a loyal and global audience. His musical style has broad appeal as it seamlessly reaches into various styles - Folk, Country, Rock and Roots. Mike engages his audience and creates a "back porch" experience. 

Aiken may well have been born in the wrong century. Mike's inner sense of chivalry oozes from every track on CAPTAINS & COWBOYS, his sixth studio album on Northwind Records.  As the title track says, "Save the babies, kiss the ladies, having drinks with my friends" is a code he lives by.  Aiken has drawn tales - and hope - from "trail riders, aging rodeo champs, sea captains, Rastafarians and outlaws on the lamb" and crafted a disc that draws the threads of these independent spirits together. 

This is the first effort on which Aiken opted for outside production assistance, enlisting the talents of Dan Baird (Georgia Satellites) and Ben Strano (Jack Sundrud/Poco).  The result gives the listener a remarkably clear vision of Mike as an artist. "Dan and Ben really 'got' the appeal that old silver screen heroes, singing cowboys and swashbuckling sailors have always held for me," Mike notes.  "That gave me the freedom to focus on the songs," he adds.  It also allowed him to "gel" with the other pickers on the project.  Players like Dan Dugmore on pedal steel (James Taylor, Little Big Town), Tammy Rogers on fiddle and mandolin (Grammy-nominated SteelDrivers), the multi-talented Michael Webb on accordion, bass, B3 (Poco) and Michael Grando on drums (Todd Snider, Chris Knight) left their comfort zones behind and played fearlessly without a net.  Aiken brought his carefully honed talent by adding his signature acoustic, awesome electric slide and his baritone guitar to the mix. 

With the warmth of Lightfoot, the earthiness of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the unerring timing of Billy Joe Shaver, Aiken's vocals are uninhibited on his own sweetly vibrant "Virginia" and Country Joe McDonald's poignant lament "Save The Whales."  The title track crackles with a longing for the old West and the open sea, while the earth-shattering "Coal Train" (Mike Aiken, Larry Berwald)sadly outlines the destruction of our shrinking Appalachian mountains.  "Get Down River" (Brian Henneman) highlights the challenges of living hand-in-hand with Mother Nature, while Aiken's "Bring Out The Bourbon"recalls late night communions with ex-pats found around the globe.  Other writers contributing to the project include: Tim Buppert, Michael Burton, Austin Cunningham, Brad Davis and Steve Williams. "The album was two years in the making.  I'd written many tunes during that time but not many made it onto this record.  They weren't bad, but the fit wasn't right," he adds.

Whether light-hearted or soul-searching, Mike Aiken's inspirations and talent come together on this seminal CD and should move Mike to the forefront of the Americana/Roots movement.  So saddle up, put sail to the wind and enjoy this ride with him.

 "A performer loved by audiences," says the Virginia Arts Commission. A Mike Aiken show offers a troubadour who can relate on a personal level and then can transition to a high-energy show without losing the intimacy of the singer/songwriter.  Aiken connects with his audiences as a teller of tales whose music makes you feel like you instantly know him. He can tickle your funny bone and tell a sad tale because the songs he writes and the experiences he shares are rich with stories of life, love and wanderlust.

Mike is taking his place among well-respected songwriters and musicians in the Americana and country communities. His songs have been chosen for compilations and his song "Chesapeake" was chosen by Sports Illustrated magazine as one of the Top 40 Sports Songs of All Time.  He has had five Top 30 singles on the radio in the US and Europe. He has written and produced music for Raceline television that reports on Nascar and penned the 'On The Road" articles for Singer & Musician Magazine.

Mike always finds time to give back to the community with his philanthropic projects that include the annual Aiken & Friends Fest. Now in its 8th year in Smithfield, Virginia, the festival benefits youth music education while celebrating the songwriter. In addition, Mike supports the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race that benefits environmental concerns.
He is an active endorsee for Takamine stringed instruments, Adamas Strings, Ovation Guitars and Mandolins, and Levi's Jeans.

Catch more about Mike on the CyberCountry Vodcast here. For more information about Mike Aiken including tour dates, appearances and CD releases go to: http://www.mikeaikenmusic.com/