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Best Solo Performer: Mike Moran
Rick Coates March 2007

Singer-songwriter Mike Moran’s New Years resolution for 2007 is simply to “do more gigging this year than I did last year.” Considering he performed 150 times in 2006, his “more gigging” goal will be a big undertaking in a market that is challenging for full-time musicians.
At 26, Moran has become a fixture on the Northern Michigan music scene. Raised in Clarkston, his family summered in Bellaire, and after college he came north to pursue a musical career. This summer he will perform every Tuesday night at Chandler’s in Petoskey, Wednesday nights on the patio at the Holiday Inn in Traverse City, and every Thursday night on the deck at North Peak Brewing Company in Traverse City. His weekends are also filling up around the region, but winter and spring means a lot of time on the road.
“It is tough up here this time of the year for local musicians,” said Moran. “I do like hitting the road though – it is great exposure, and when you are a full time musician, it is about exposure. So I am playing a lot of college towns this spring.”

“20,000 CDs”

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Moran has been a master at getting exposure. A few years ago he produced 20,000 copies of a sampler CD and passed them out to everyone he came in contact with.
“I tried to get other musicians to join me on the CD but they didn’t grasp the concept,” said Moran. “Those CDs have made their way all over the country, giving me a ton of exposure I otherwise wouldn’t get. It has helped out a lot and I have picked up a lot of gigs as a result.”
One of those gigs was as an opening act a couple of years ago in Grand Rapids for Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. Moran and his band played a 90-minute set in the parking lot while concertgoers waited to get into the show.
“My band won a radio station competition as a result of someone getting one of my CDs,” said Moran. “It was a lot of fun to perform at the baseball stadium and in front of all of those people.”
It must have been fun hanging with Dylan and Willie too?
“Are you kidding me? Dylan stayed on his bus until it was his turn to perform, and he walked off the bus and went on stage. We were told no one was allowed to get within 20 yards of him,” said Moran. “Willie pulled in minutes before he went on and played his show and left. Plus they had the Hells Angels for their security, so we didn’t even make an attempt.”
It was somewhat of a disappointment for Moran who has been a Dylan fan for years and considers “America’s Songwriter” among his greatest influences.

“Mike’s Amigos”

Vocally and lyrically Moran is a blend of Paul Simon, Dave Matthews and John Mayer. His shows feature a blend of his originals and an assortment of covers. He often performs solo but is joined occasionally by Northern Michigan legends guitarist Ron Getz, bassist extraordinaire Jason Kott, and drummer Matt Hayes.
“Ron Getz has become a mentor. He has helped me so much with every aspect of my career,” said Moran. “I feel real fortunate that these guys are willing to take the stage with me.”
So is being a full-time musician a dream or a nightmare?
“It is challenging, but this is what I have wanted to do for a long time,” said Moran. “The biggest challenge is you have to do everything yourself – set up the equipment, drive for hours, manage and market yourself. I tried booking agents but that didn’t work either. It really is a full-time job. Then there are so many avenues to market yourself on the web, it is hard to keep up.”
Moran readily admits that he is behind on his MySpace site and other websites where fans go to keep up with him.
“My focus has been on my new album and writing songs,” said Moran. “I have been working on the new album for the past three months at Jason Kott’s studio. I plan to release it this August with CD release parties at the City Park in Petoskey and Union Street in Traverse City.”
Moran has come a long way since his days playing campus coffeehouses. His music is found on Napster and iTunes and his phone is ringing off the hook with gig requests. He is not where he wants to be at in his career (most 26 year olds are not), but like most who pursue life as a musician, youthfulness is the key, and he knows the time clock is ticking.
His accomplishments are impressive considering he picked up a guitar for the first time seven years ago. He has also proven himself in the songwriting arena and has won competitions and awards for his talents. The road to rock stardom seems accessible for Moran; let’s hope he is able to get around the detours and potholes that have prevented others from the area from reaching that dream.
To keep up with Mike Moran (sort of) visit his site at www.mikemoranmusic.com where links may also be found to his MySpace and Sonicbids sites.  His next Northern Michigan performances take place this Saturday, March 31 at City Park Grill in Petoskey and on April 5 at Union Street Station.