In the opening track of the new album, Healing Waters, Michael On Fire sings,“Yesterday is here tomorrow;” that line epitomizes the paradoxical character of the record. Taken as a whole, this 16-song collection belies comparison to other works and other artists, yet (paradoxically) each of the individual song sare reminiscent of other seminal artists who’ve influenced this music. It is a great melting pot of styles (Country Rock, blues, folk, jazz, swing, Americana,bluegrass, classic and old time rock and roll); yet, it is precisely that breadth and that range that keeps it from fitting comfortably into any one of the genres.
On Healing Waters, Michael is accompanied by the band that has performed with him since 2012, including Bill Flores on pedal steel, accordion, dobro and mandolin; Bear Erickson on electric guitar, baritone guitar and bass guitar; Tyson Leonard on violin and Tompeet Fredriksen on drums and percussion. Included also are two duets with “the Carter Girl,” Carlene Carter. Despite such masterful accompaniment and collaboration, we also (paradoxically) get some of the most simple, honest, stripped down recordings to be found in MOF’s extensive discography, which includes 18 albums, more than 200 songs.
Like anyone who does music for a living (full-time since the 1970s), Michael wants people to listen to and like his music, and yet (another paradox) he makes no effort to be accepted, or to conform or adhere to ... anything! ... rules, conventions, formulas or commercial considerations. He is a fiercely independent artist and while he loves people intensely, he could care less what people think or say.
“Every day is a challenge to maintain our humanity and our dreams,” said Michael. “My job is to somehow gift the world with the courage it takes to follow one’s own heart and path; to play that magic chord in a way that I’ve never played it before, and somehow be of service to myself, my children, my family, my friends, my generation, and the people who truly need something beyond the obvious nonsense that we are all faced with on a daily basis.”As always with Michael on Fire, the lyrics are a profound component; the songs feature potent social and environmental commentary, spiritual ruminations and personal reflections, fused throughout with a ray of hope, which shines clearly in the final track:
Somewhere on the Hudson River, I was heading south, staring out the window in a dream, Traveling into New York City, following my fortune, floating like a leaf upon a stream,Somewhere in the distance, I heard the voices singing, like an angel choir in the night, And I wonder where my life is going, wonder where my life is going, Something tells me things will be alright.
“With Healing Waters Michael has given us another beautifully crafted, passionate group of songs to nourish the soundtrack of our lives.” - Thomas Cox, Art Escape (Los Angeles, CA)
“Always socially conscious, MoF tells it like it is (that’s his job.) MoF tells his tales as country, bluesy and spiritual rock songs with his perfectly gruff, been-there-done-that vocals. As a guy who has more albums than most musicians have songs in their set list, this one maybe MoF’s best one yet.” - Bill Locey, Ventura County Star
“Folk Music has come back with some deep soul searching songs and right at the forefront is Michael On Fire with a new album titled,Healing Waters, for indeed, music is what begins the healing process.”- Stewart Brennan, World United Music, Montreal, Canada
“I do this to feel and to heal.” - Michael On Fire
HEALING WATERS – TRACK INFORMATION
1. 11th Hour - Classic-sounding Americana rock; piano, electric guitar, lap steel, accordion, mandolin, bass and drums. Stories from the old neighborhood; every name is a real person.
2. 100 Years from Now – Social and environmental commentary; thumping, rocking
3. The Wind Still Blows – acoustic blues with great lyrics and doo-wop straight out of the early days of rock and roll. great dobro too
4. Get Out of the Way - a universal mantra for all of us - with great lyrics and Americana sound. Accordion and violin featured.
5. The Lost Sea – Americana Rock / Country Rock; The Lost Sea is in eastern Tennessee. This is a tale of an ancient Native American power / healing spot.
6. Be Gentle With This Body – Gentle beauty; acoustic, featuring dobro and pedal steel
7. Done This Dance Before - a duet with Carlene Carter and Michael On Fire. Michael’s acoustic homage to Danny Kirwan and Peter Green (a la early Fleetwood Mac)
8. Man of Free Will – Sassy solo acoustic blues with background vocals
9. Garden of Paradise - This one whoops it up! High-spirited Southern / Rock / Jig / Bluegrass / Mountain musicwith visionary lyrics
10. Whatever Happened to America – Classic / Americana / Country Rock featuring guitar, accordion,mandolin, violin.
11. I Don’t Love You Anymore – duet with Carlene Carter; Country Rock ballad
12. Healing Waters – Americana story song – Another Native American healing / power spot. / Gentle Country Rock (like Mark Knopfler), beautiful guitar and lyrics
13. Checking Out With You – Some sort of New Orleans, Big Band, Western Swing, honky tonk, what-the-hell raucous rocker. fast tempo, high energy. “
14. I Didn’t Sell My Soul – solo acoustic with haunting pedal steel and poignant poetry
15. Please Don’t Leave – beautiful acoustic love song, Americana / Country with pedal steel
16. Things Will Be Alright – Americana / Country / Folk road song, storytelling lyricsHistorical
Bio - Born and raised in Detroit, Michael was studying Music Theory and Composition at Wayne State University and performing original music (in the first wave of Country Rock) when he came to the attention of renowned Hall of Fame Producer Don Davis, who brought him in to work Soul and R&B sessions at Detroit’s United Sound, and then took him to record his tunes with the legendary Swampers rhythm section at Muscle Shoals Sound in Muscle Shoals, Ala.. After touring college campuses across the nation, Michael then turned in the direction of progressive jazz. He formed the group Prismatic, which performed throughout the Midwest and East Coast, 363 days a year for four years. The group put out a couple of studio albums and live concert recordings, but – like so many before them and since – fell prey to unscrupulous business dealings.Michael
relocated to Los Angeles, where he attracted many of the town’s top players, and resumed performing nightly (under the name MOF), all original music, in a more rootsy Blues-Rock / Country Rock style. His first album was produced by Stephen Stills and Joe Vitale, andafter the follow-up effort (Commanche Moon) made several critics’ Top 10 list, he began a period of relentless touring through every nook and cranny of the country; hundreds of dates a year for years on end. He is a lifelong musician, who continues to write, record, perform and tour.“Michael and I embarked on a voyage, a quest, a crusade in search of love and reason. All roads lead to others and each of us has the right to follow a path of choice. No matter which direction you choose, all roads can lead to your dreams, but if you don’t go you won’t get there. I tip my hat to Michael for being one of the few who traveled one road, drove straight ahead without making a rest stop.”- Jango Edwards, renowned Clown Nouveau and Founder of the International Festival of Fools