Michael Kessler Interview

Michael Kessler Interview

By Nigel Sharpe for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

Michael Kessler started playing guitar at the young age of 11, and has continued honing his craft for over a quarter century. Kessler’s band, American Folk, performed as a unit from 2006 to 2014. American Folk’s nascent beginnings stemmed from a Gateway Technical College friendship with Adam Lantz when Michael was pursuing a career in Radio Broadcasting. Adam and Michael got together to woodshed a few times thereafter meeting T.J. Leveque to ultimately form American Folk. Kessler is also a principal at his family’s company (Kessler’s Clock Company) where he’s been a Horologist (a person that makes or repairs watches or clocks) for over 2 decades.

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In 2023 Michael sought to fulfill a professional goal of recording and releasing a full length solo album of his own. Commissioning Milwaukee producer/musician/engineer Gary Tanin to take on the project, Gravel Road is the result of months of their labor. Primarily a solo affair with guest musicians, Kessler recruited Georgia Rae to add fiddle while Tanin enlisted Chicken Wire Empire’s Ernest Brusubardis IV (fiddle) and Joe Vent on Bass.
With younger bands and players bringing fresh blood into the Bluegrass scene there has been a decades long Bluegrass revival. This new wave of bluegrass music has been often called “Newgrass.” The intent of which is not to be pretentious, neither irreverent nor sarcastic or disrespectful to traditional Bluegrass but to extend its reach.

On Gravel Road, Kessler draws influence from Bluegrass, Country, Rock, Funk, and Blues resulting in a melting pot. Interpretations of selections by Bob Dylan, Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, Roy Buchanan, and even the band
Radio Head are included on the recording. While half the tracks are instrumental the album includes vocals by Michael. Though less tongue-in-cheek, Kessler’s vocals have been compared to They Might Be Giant’s John
Lindell – unassuming, unfettered, unpretentious and honest. Michael Kessler’s solo outing Gravel Road includes genre-bending excursions into musical interpretations with the hope that this broader vision continues to help advocate deeper appreciation of all acoustic music.

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