The Polite Rebel

Widely known throughout the world as the most decorated college lacrosse player in history , Mike Powell is an artist in every sense of the word.

Born and raised along the banks of the mighty Black River that rolls through the small blue collar town of Champion, New York. The son of an industrious mill working father and an artistic mother, Mike Powell was brought up in an extremely fertile creative environment that helped shape his fearless & free way of life.  

When he was a kid his parents decided to convert an empty bedroom in their home into a craft store where they would sell items that they made out back in their woodshed.  His father, Lawrence, would return home from his day job working at the paper mill at six o’clock and go straight out to the bandsaw to start cutting.  His mother Susan, stayed at home with her four kids during the day and painted pieces for the store. Many nights Mike spent underneath the kitchen table listening to his family talk about different ideas for wooden products that they could bring into the store which was called, “Grandma’s Room”. Most times those creative conversations would roll into his uncle and his father drinking beers, telling stories and eventually pulling out their guitars to play old country standards like “Mountain Dew” and “Tear In My Beer”.

At the age of 13 he taught himself to play the guitar and immediately began writing stories that could accompany his three chords.  By the time he turned 15 he already had a catalog of 20 or so songs that he would perform for his family alongside his Father and Uncle. Most people learn music by playing other peoples arrangements before they start to create their own, but Mike was different.  He was certainly influenced by people like Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and John Prine but he wasn’t interested in recreating anything — it had to be new, fresh and authentic to him.

After high school Mike Powell went on to Syracuse University where he became the most decorated college lacrosse player in the history of the sport.  After college he declined the offer to play professional lacrosse despite being the number one draft pick.  He packed up and moved to Denver, Colorado to chase his dream of singing songs and living life as an artist.  “When you’re an artist you live for creating.  If you aren’t in the process of making something, life feels stagnant like your wasting time and you get filled with a deep seeded drive for creation.”  It was this drive that put Powell on the road for the next ten years where he would travel back and forth across the globe playing his music in any venue that would take him. Touring alongside Woody Guthrie’s granddaughter Sarah Lee gave him a glimpse into a community of song lovers and music appreciators that shared a common view of roots music and felt the power of emotive story telling.

His live shows are best described as real.  He somehow manages to blend his folk songwriting style with a silky blue-eyed soul vocal styling that creates a sound as unique as himself. He is a relentless and prolific songwriter.  It’s not uncommon for him to perform a song that he wrote the morning of the show and one that he promises to never play again so he can deepen the connection with his audience allow them to truly be part of a moment in time.  He leaves his audiences inspired to chase their own dreams and embrace their respective journeys.    

In 2009 he released his first solo album “Replevin” and followed up with a full band offering titled “Kapow” where he recruited his favorite members of the Syracuse music scene to play alongside him.  Mike Powell is currently on tour supporting his most recent solo album “Tied To The Rail”.