I sat down over tea with composer and multi-instrumentalist, Mike Tamburo, near his home in the Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh. We talked at length about the arc of his musical career from the middle half of last decade to present. Mike will be on tour starting in July, supporting his latest recording as Brother Ong, Mysteries of the Shahi Baaja Volumes 1 & 2.
W&W: It seems like whenever I’m out performing there will inevitably be someone who, after finding out I’m from Pittsburgh, asks: “How’s Mike Tamburo? Make sure you tell him that I said hello.”
W&W: The community that’s loosely formed around guitar music tends to be a small world. You’ve obviously made your way around it and left a positive impression. Can you reminisce for a bit about the years when you were touring extensively: where all did you go and who were some of your touring companions?
First of all, tell them all that I’m fine. (laughs again) In 2005, I decided that I wanted to permanently stay on tour. I’d just been through a traumatic shift in my life… honestly, at that time music was the only thing that I had. I didn’t really know where to start. A lot of people were connecting for the first time through the internet. So I started reaching out to people that way, booking shows during the three week period before I left. Nick Schillace found me and suggested we go out on tour together. I listened to his music, which was incredible, and said “let’s give it a try.” Other than talking to him on the phone I didn’t know anything about him or his life…
W&W: It’s a quick way to get to know someone!
(laughs) … definitely, and we were headed through a part of the country that’s a little bit harder to tour in, making our way from Detroit to Seattle. I remember South Dakota was very difficult. We ended up playing at a Christian Bookstore and I accidentally offended the promoter. It’s one of the memories that is sure to keep Nick and I close (laughs again)… we endured the “red” states together, and parts of the country that neither of us had any experience with. We had beautiful shows in Iowa City, Nebraska, Minneapolis (where I met Paul Metzger) and Seattle. By the end of it, Nick had become one of my closest friends. His older songs feel like the soundtrack to my life during that time. Continue reading