Mike Strauss Band

Babies were born. People were dying. A perfect time to make a record. That's how Charlotte's Mike Strauss describes the circumstances surrounding the making of his band's latest album, "Escalating Blues"

The album's June 21 release follows two years of personal ups and downs for Mike Strauss Band. Strauss' father died in October 2017. He'd already written some of the material for the album that "almost foreshadowed it a weird way." Soon after, drummer David "DK" Kim and trombone player Molly Jay were readying for the summer birth of their first child. Although their due date helped provide a timeline for the recording Strauss' nineth release, it didn't rush it.

"It felt like, with everything going on - maybe because of it - playing music with this band took on a little added importance." says Strauss. "I think we all kind of knew that lives were going change in ways we weren't necessarily ready for, but the music was feeling good."

Instead of diving right into recording, the group played Strauss' new songs live and gave them more time to breathe and naturally evolve. "In the past we would try to record songs right after we learned them when they were still fresh and everyone was nervously paying close attention," says Strauss. "As a consequence, there were always a few songs that would change course after we put them down. This time, for the most part, the songs had already settled down."

The Mike Strauss Band has a reputation as a well-oiled, malleable machine. They're a band that's comfortable as a trio or a sextet, on a stage at a large theater or auditorium or crammed in the corner of a local bar. They may squeeze in a 30-minute festival set or play a marathon three hours. The core of Strauss, Kim, Jay, bassist Jon Schigoda, and electric guitarist Randolph Lewis have been together for over a decade. "Escalating Blues" is guitarist Troy Conn's first album with the group.
Musically the band is an amalgamation of it's parts, mixing styles of classic American music. Strauss' songwriting and matter-of-fact delivery centers the group in folk and blues. His gruff vocals echo Mark Knopfler and Tom Waits. Music instructors by day, Jay and Conn share backgrounds in jazz and classical. Kim, Lewis, and Schigoda are veterans of Charlotte's rock scene with tenure in Les Dirt Clods, the Mannish Boys, and Temperance League.
Strauss has opened for the legendary Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder, Idina Menzel, Chris Whitley, Joe Bonamassa, Ruthie Foster, and Robert Cray, among others, both with the band and as a solo artist.