Newsletter

Existential Banjo

ENJOY EVERY EPISODE!

Episode 1
Little Pink America
with Corky Siegel &
Sons of the Never Wrong

Episode 2
People Get Ready
with Sue Demel, vocals

Episode 3
MTA (Poor Ol' Charlie)
with Tony Trischka


Episode 4
Suite for Americas:  Dorian
with Nora Barton, cello

Episode 5
Midnight Rider
with Darol Anger. violin

Episode 6
Vincent Black Lightning
@ Chicago City Winery

Episode 7
Hasna ya Layla
with Aziz Samaoui, ngoni

Episode 8
Opus 821
with Geraldo de Oliveira

Episode 9
Gaudete & Sleepers Awake
with David Jennings, vibes

Episode 10
Corrina, Corrina
with Aziz Samaoui, ngoni 

Episode 11
Dokunmak
with Erkan Ogur
(Concert in Istanbul)

Episode 12
Last Thing On My Mind
with Tom Paxton, songwriter

New Releases

A-sides CD

Fingerstyle guitar with Darol Anger on violin 

 

Two New Hal Leonard books

BOB DYLAN FOR BANJO

 

FIRST 50 SONGS
To Play on the Banjo 
(co-written with Greg Cahill)

 

About Michael J. Miles

 

 A TRUE STORY....

When Pete Seeger first heard Michael Miles, he sent a letter to Michael saying that "in all my 70 years this is among the most beautiful recordings I’ve ever heard...it is enough to make me want to learn the banjo all over again.”
 

Michael Miles is one of America’s most inventive clawhammer banjo players. Add guitar, vocals, jazz instruments, orchestras and complex historically-themed theatrical presentations to the mix and, two decades later, Michael has a critically acclaimed catalog of original compositions, stage performances, music CD’s and music instruction books.

Michael's performance credits include the Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institution, Ravinia Festival, Harris Theatre in Chicago, American University in Beirut, Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival in Ireland, MIAM Graduate Conservatory of Music in Istanbul,  and the Royal Opera Theatre in Marrakesh.

 

 

 

 

Lebanon

"We were inspired to present a concert here that involved your American banjo & guitar, Arabic oud, piano, Chinese pipa, and Arabic improvisational voice—a unique combination most likely unprecedented in Lebanon."  
Dr. Marj Henningsen,
Founder & Director,
Wellspring Learning Community

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<p><span style="font-size: x-small;">Above: &nbsp;Abdelilah el Miry, Miles, Tony Dale, Samuel Kaplan (US Ambassador to Morocco)&nbsp;and Sylvia Kaplan.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><strong><span style="font-size: large;">MOROCCO<br /></span></strong><span style="color: #993300;"><em><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">"</span></em><em><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">Miles believes in our local culture, respects it, lives it, not for a gig but for a spiritual interaction. &nbsp;Our deepest gratitude to you." &nbsp;</span></span></em></span><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;">- Abdelkrim Radaddi, US. State Dept</span></p>
<p><span style="color: #993300;"><em><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-style: normal;">In 2008, Michael Miles led a concert tour through Morocco accompanied by Tony Dale on drums, and collaborating with Abdelilah el Miry on violin, Haj Younes on oud, the Houriyate women singers, &nbsp;and a number of other Moroccan musicians. &nbsp;</span></span></span></span></em></span></p>
<p><span style="color: #993300;"><em><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-style: normal;">The videos on this page outline the artistic collaboration, how Miles was taught by Moroccan musicians, and ultimately how the public in Morocco responded to his presence there. &nbsp;</span></span></span></span></em></span></p>
<iframe frameborder="0" height="240" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/vuSBUuYOkRA" width="300"> </iframe>
<p><em><span style="color: #993300;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">Above: &nbsp;Miles speaks in Marakesh</span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">&nbsp;about the&nbsp;</span></span></span></span></em><em>impact of music in our communities. &nbsp;US Ambassador to Morocco, Samuel Kaplan, is in the audience. &nbsp;</em></p>
<iframe frameborder="0" height="240" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/iBB5Jt5-JRI" width="300"></iframe>
<p><span style="font-size: xx-small;"><em><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">Above: &nbsp;Miles collaborates with the Houriyate <br />women singers. &nbsp;</span></span></em></span></p>
<iframe frameborder="0" height="240" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/OAYqzPPet7c" width="300"></iframe>
<p><span style="font-size: xx-small;"><em><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">Above: &nbsp;Miles performs in Meknes for packed <br />auditorium of Moroccan college students. &nbsp;</span></span></em></span></p>
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<p class="FreeForm"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">Above: &nbsp;Miles is taught how to play the tune, "Tabila" by Abdelilah el Miry</span></span></span></p>
<iframe frameborder="0" height="240" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/2hGPul5Jxsg" width="300"></iframe>
<p class="FreeForm"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">Above: &nbsp;Miles performs Tabila later the same day as the lesson.</span></span></span></p>
<iframe frameborder="0" height="240" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/A26QBkPpbjs" width="300"></iframe>
<p class="FreeForm"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">Above: &nbsp;Miles is taught to play "BInt Shalabia" by Abdelilah el Miry and Nasser Houaria.</span></span></span></p>
<iframe frameborder="0" height="240" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/x1vl9djQ49k" width="300"></iframe>
<p class="FreeForm"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">Above: &nbsp;Miles performs Bint Shalabia with Haj Younes on oud, Abdelilah el Miry on violin, and Tony Dale on drums.&nbsp;</span></span></span></p>
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</table>In 2011, Michael Miles travelled to Beirut, Lebanon.   The Arab spring was engaging the whole world.   With both Syria and Israel less than an hour away from Beirut, Miles proceeded to let his musical diplomacy move forward.    


During the Arab Spring of 2011, Michael Miles travelled to Beirut to collaborate with school children in a concert about peace; to deliver a lecture to the  American University of Beirut entitled “Seventy-Five Years of American Music (1900-1975);” and to present a collaborative concert at the university’s assembly hall entitled “Stringed Vibrations:  The Banjo in Conversation with the Oud and Pipa.”
   

 

 


These events represented a collaboration with the American University of Beirut, the Wellspring Learning Academy in Beirut, and the Global Voices Initiative of which Miles serves as Music Director.  

 

This is the 3rd of Miles’ musical diplomacy tours characterized by international music collaboration, free concerts, and outreach to school children and families.   Miles states that, “if the world has any hope, it is on the shoulders of art and culture.”  And as Elisabeth Millard, US Counsel General to Morocco, said that musicians like Michael Miles are among “the best ambassadors the United States can have.”   

The videos on this page portray some of the artistic collaboration that took place.   There were improvisational exchanges with both oud and traditional Arabic vocalese mejana.  

"You established a wonderful rapport with the students immediately—you clearly have a gift for working with young people....Having the students see their music teachers as not only teachers, but also as creative musicians was an invaluable experience inspiring more interest in music than what normal school activity can do."
Dr. Marj Henningsen
Founder & Director
Wellspring Learning Community


Michael Miles plays "La Anta Habibi" on the banjo along with Lara Molaeb on piano & vocals, Xiao on Chinese pipa, and  Ashraf el Chouli on oud.


Michael Miles talks about music as diplomacy and performs his banjo composition, "Chicago Trilogy."

 

Michael Miles performs his collaborative work, "We Will Build A New World," with fellow student and teacher composers.