“Mighty Mike Schermer is probably the best blues guitarist, singer and songwriter you’ve never heard of…and probably not for long!” - Tommy Castro
“Every time I play with him my booty hurts afterwards from him kicking it all night!” - Elvin Bishop
“Funky and authentic!” - Bonnie Raitt
Mighty Mike Schermer was a fixture on the Bay Area blues scene for over 20 years when he relocated to Austin TX in 2009 and joined the touring band of swamp-boogie piano legend Marcia Ball. He carved out a solid solo career, with four critically acclaimed CDs, an award winning single and thousands of performances at festivals and nightclubs the world over. He also became the “go to guy” sideman for such heavyweights as Elvin Bishop, Maria Muldaur, Angela Strehli, Bonnie Raitt, Howard Tate, Charlie Musselwhite, Sista Monica, Shana Morrison and many, many more. Oh yes…we may be judged by the company we keep, but when the spotlight shines a solo artist also must be able to bring the goods all on his own.
Mighty Mike Schermer delivers on all fronts.
Charlie Lange of Bluebeat Music writes “…equally at ease with hard-ass blues or the spare necessities of vintage soul, Schermer steps forward with clever tunes, sturdy vocals and loads of great guitar!” Paul Liberatore of the Marin Independent Journal calls him “… one of the most extraordinary guitarists of the new generation.”
Mike's musical journey started at age ten…fumbling around with guitar, trumpet and clarinet. He played in school and in various rock and roll bands throughout his teens, but everything changed one night in 1984 when he plunked down three dollars to see The Master of The Telecaster - Albert Collins. "Albert hit that first note,” says Schermer " and it was like a door slammed behind me and another one opened up in front. That was the sound and the soul and the feeling I'd been looking for in music up to that point.” He met Collins after the show and many times later until Collins’ untimely death. “One time I went to see him at the San Francisco Blues Festival” Mighty Mike remembers, “and I got backstage and went over to his bus to say hello. I knocked on the door and heard a voice…‘hey, I’m under here’…he was changing the oil!” That do-it-yourself, workingman’s attitude is what has kept Schermer in the blues all these years. It is a tradition he carries out on stage each and every night. From Collins Mike also learned that one note can say more than a million; to honor your heroes but have your own sound; to play your ass off at every single show; and that every guitar player in the world should listen to T-Bone Walker.”
When Albert Collins tells you to go out and get some T-Bone Walker records you RUN out to the nearest record shop and then get to work. Mike plunged headlong into the T-Bone Walker style and literally came up swingin’. Lee Hildebrand wrote in Living Blues that Schermer “…has thoroughly internalized the Walker vocabulary, which he uses as a jumping off point for his own highly personal improvisations…(he) stands shoulder to shoulder with Roy Gaines and Duke Robillard as a leading contemporary exponent of the Walker style.”
From T-Bone Walker, Schermer expanded his vocal and guitar influences to include a host of blues, R&B and jazz artists like Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Wilson Pickett, Jimmy Smith, Charles Brown and Howlin’ Wolf. Ears began to turn…the next thing you know Mike had attracted the attention of west coast harmonica master Andy Santana. Along with drummer June Core and bassist Steve Ehrmann they formed The Soul Drivers, a legendary Bay Area band that had the rare ability to either steal the show on their own or provide superb backing to better known artists such as Willie Dixon, Jimmy Rogers, Billy Boy Arnold, Luther Tucker, Snooky Pryor, Elvin Bishop and Tommy Castro. Texas blues belter Angela Strehli had recently moved to California and quickly tapped the Soul Drivers as her touring band. Strehli’s “Deja Blue” (1998), with Mighty Mike as musical director and guitarist, was nominated for a California Music Award (BAMMIE) for Best Contemporary Blues Release. Schermer has more BAMMIE connections. The year before in 1997 the Soul Drivers were asked to be house band for the Bay Area Blues Showcase at the awards show where they backed up Bonnie Raitt, Booker T., Joe Louis Walker, the Gospel Hummingbirds and Strehli. Austin deLone was the musical director of the BAMMIES at that time. He and Mike have since worked together in several incarnations, including a big Tribute to R&B concert at Bumbershoot 2003 in Seattle, WA where they backed Bonnie, Howard Tate, Ruth Brown, Shemekia Copeland, Maxi Priest and more in front of 30,000 fans!
Willie Dixon told him, “Boy, you play your ass off,” while Snooky Pryor lauded his “stingin’ guitar.” At a show at the legendary Sweetwater in Mill Valley, CA in 1996 Bonnie Raitt dubbed Schermer her “new favorite guitar player.”
The Mighty Mike Schermer Band’s debut release 1st Set (2000) received rave reviews and success worldwide and is still popular on the scene today, but it was the 2005 release of Next Set that introduced Schermer to the modern blues world as one of the genre’s foremost songwriters. Propelled by the hit single “My Big Sister’s Radio” Next Set climbed the Living Blues Radio Charts, scored three and a half stars in Downbeat magazine and was #1 on XM radio for well over three months. The song also found it’s way into the Carolina Beach Music scene, and in 2006 it was awarded the CMBA’s National Song of the Year. Blues star Tommy Castro also covered the song on his Painkiller CD, which won a 2008 Blues Music Award (Handy Award) for best contemporary album.
In 2006 blues/rock legend Elvin Bishop hired Schermer on as his lead guitarist. The blending of their two unique styles proved a tough combination to beat. Elvin’s release The Blues Rolls On (2008) puts Mighty Mike side by side with some of the best guitarists in the business including Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks and even the king of the blues himself - B.B. King! In 2011 Mike was heavily featured on Marcia Ball’s Roadside Attractions CD. His extensive discography also includes recordings with Maria Muldaur, Howard Tate, Sista Monica and many more.
He has toured through a host of festivals including 3 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festivals, 5 San Francisco Blues Festivals, the Poretta Soul Festival in Italy, the Park Tower Blues Festival in Tokyo and as a hometown favorite at 8 Santa Cruz Blues Festivals. He has performed in all 50 US states and in 21 countries around the world, and the journey is far from over!