Mike Mangione / Blood & Water
A lot has changed since Americana, acoustic folk artist Mike Mangione left his hometown of Chicago for L.A in pursuit of a music career. At the time, the most common musical advice one would hear was to get out and play often. So, after a year and a half of gigging around L.A, Mangione purchased a van and began a life on the road, sleeping at rest stops and averaging over 150 shows a year. It was at this time, playing as an unknown soloist, that Mangione discovered three key elements of his music: Sonic subtlety, use of silence as an instrument, and patience. Fast forward 18 years, two bands, 8 releases and hundreds of thousands of miles later and these three components continue to make up the foundational pillars of Mangione’s music today. Subtlety, silence, and patience combined with maturation and time has given birth to a woven lush complexity. But it is not only the beautiful ethereal soundscapes that make Mangione’s music so special. It is how he desires to use it.
“Songs utilize a broader palette through the power of imagery, poetry and mystery,” Mike Mangione, Americana and acoustic folk artist, argues, “to create a complete picture that is accessible to each individual from where they are at in their lives.” Each song is a form of communion between artist and audience. Mangione writes every song with that target in mind, as each song is a “dwelling place you can enter.”
Mangione will release his sixth full length studio record, Blood and Water, in March 2024. The album was produced by three-time Grammy winner, Larry Campbell. Mangione first became aware of Campbell when he was touring with Bob Dylan for seven years. Mangione continued his appreciation of Campbell’s work when he became musical director and collaborator for many years with Levon Helm, another of Mangione’s musical idols. For the album Campbell arranged a stellar band with Justin Guip (Hot Tuna) on drums, Byron Issacs (The Lumineers) on bass, Tom Mangione on electric guitar, and Will Bryant on keyboards and accordion. Larry Campbell also played on the album with guitars, pedal steel, and fiddle.
All of Mangione’s previous albums have garnered numerous favorable reviews in the press. Tenebrae (2008), was New York Magazine’s pick of the week. Offering (2010) inspired Blurt Magazine to refer to the “tear-stained folk, Memphis-styled gospel and bluesy-flavored pop” as “luminous.” Red-Winged Blackbird Man (2013) received four stars from American Songwriter Magazine. But I’ve Seen the Stars (2017) was described by No Depression as "a country-blues/indie gem.”
Blood & Water is the title and theme of the new record. “All things of significance and value in our lives require a certain level of sacrifice,” Mangione explains. “’We often run from sacrifice and rarely talk about it as being valuable but it is the gatekeeper to most things that lead to a fulfilling life. We should learn to embrace and celebrate sacrifice as a necessary labor to the fruit of our lives. This record reflects on that reality in songs like “Anastasia,” “The Turnabout,” “Love Ain't No Easy Thing,” “Against the Grain” and more. The blood signifies the sacrifice, an open wound, pain and the giving of self. The water represents cleansing, rebirth, growth, life and becoming anew.’”