Monster Mike Welch Biography
One of Boston’s best-loved guitarists, Monster Mike Welch has been a fixture on the international blues scene for over thirteen years. As leader of the Monster Mike Welch Band, Mike released four acclaimed CDs of mostly original material (These Blues are Mine, Axe to Grind, Catch Me , and Adding Insight To Injury ), and toured North America and Europe. As guitarist in Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, he was a major part of a new CD release (Sugar Ray and the Bluetones Featuring Monster Mike Welch) in March 2003 on Severn Records. Now, Monster Mike Welch presents Cryin’ Hey!, his first album of traditional blues, and his finest work to date.
Mike started playing guitar at the age of eight, inspired by everything from the Beatles to Robert Johnson. He dedicated himself to the blues by the age of eleven, and quickly progressed from a regular at local blues jams to a respected member of Boston’s professional blues community. By the time he was fourteen, Mike had played with blues greats like Junior Wells, James Cotton, Hubert Sumlin, and Johnny Copeland, as well as stars like the Blues Brothers Band with Dan Aykroyd, who gave Mike his nickname, “Monster Mike.”
In 1995, the Monster Mike Welch Band won the Boston Music Award for Outstanding Blues Act and started work on their first CD, These Blues are Mine. That CD established Mike as a rising blues star and paved the way for several successful international tours. In 1997, Mike released Axe to Grind, which solidified his place in the blues scene and firmly established Mike and George Lewis as one of blues’ most prolific and original songwriting teams. During this time, Mike was featured in USA Today, People, Ohne Filter Extra, Entertainment Tonight, A Current Affair Extra, and countless local and music publications and television programs. After a year of touring to promote 1998’s Catch Me, which added influences from British Invasion pop and Motown R&B to the band’s rocking blues mix, Mike took a sabbatical from regular performing. The previously unheard-of introduction of free time into Mike’s schedule led to his joining Sugar Ray and the Bluetones in 2001, revitalizing the band’s deep blues with his distinctive guitar stylings, and touring the U.S., Canada, and Europe behind Sugar Ray Norcia’s legendary voice and harmonica. 2003’s Sugar Ray and the Bluetones Featuring Monster Mike Welch featured five Welch compositions as well as his stinging guitar, and hit #4 on the Living Blues charts for two months in a row.
Now, Mike prepares to release Cryin’ Hey!, his first all-traditional blues outing. Featuring an all-star cast including Nick Moss (Nick Moss and the Flip Tops, The Legendary Blues Band, Jimmy Rogers) on second guitar, Anthony Geraci (Ronnie Earl, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones) on piano, Michael “Mudcat” Ward (Hubert Sumlin, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, Big Walter Horton) on upright and electric bass, and Warren Grant (The Monster Mike Welch Band, The Lydia Warren Band) on drums, Cryin’ Hey! represents the finest singing, playing and songwriting of Monster Mike Welch’s career. Mike will be touring France, Switzerland, Benelux and Germany in the winter and spring of 2006.
Press Release: Monster Mike Welch Talks About His New CD
Cryin’ Hey! is the CD I’ve wanted to make since I was thirteen years old. I’ve made a lot of different kinds of CDs in my short career, but I’ve never had a chance to make a record like this. When Philippe Langlois at DixieFrog approached me with the idea of a straight blues record in 2004, I felt like I had been offered a chance to come home, and I immediately started writing material and assembling my dream blues band.
The songs were much easier to write than I had initially feared. Over the years, my writing had become more obscure, complex, and rock-oriented, partly because my tastes had changed and partly because I was very insecure about my ability as a young white boy to tell the kind of direct, heartfelt stories that the great blues singers and writers told so effortlessly. The opportunity to make a blues record forced me to look at my life differently, and I realized that as a 26 year-old man trying to make the best life possible with a wife, new baby, and money problems, I had stories to tell. Within a couple of weeks, I had most of the CD written, and I’d already tested the new songs on gigs. The directness of the songs also meant that they were much easier for me to sing than anything I’d written before, and if I were to single out the thing I’m most proud of on Cryin’ Hey!, it would be the growth in my vocals.
The band members were also easy to choose. Anthony Geraci, Mudcat Ward, and Warren Grant are musicians and friends that I’ve worked with in different situations for ten years or more, and were obvious choices. Nick Moss is among the very best blues guitarists I’ve ever heard, and someone I’d always wanted a chance to work with. Nick lives in Chicago, but he just happened to have a couple of days off during his Northeast tour on the exact two days we were scheduled to record in the Boston area, so he was added to the list. Nick is a real-deal Chicago bluesman whose playing reminds me of Earl Hooker and Jimmy Rogers, Warren’s specialty is the Houston shuffle in the vein of Sonny Freeman on the great B.B. King and Duke Records sides, and Mudcat, Ant, and I are part of the New England tradition, which has elements of both the Chicago and Texas approaches with its own flavor. All of us bear our regional stamps, but none of us are limited to any one approach, so I was blessed with a band behind me that could tackle any kind of blues I threw at it.
With songs and musicians I was comfortable with, the recording was the best session I’ve ever been involved with. We recorded the music completely live in the studio in about six hours, with no overdubs necessary. I was inspired to play more guitar than I have on any record since 1996’s These Blues Are Mine, which feels good. Listening back to it, I hear everything I’ve learned from my blues guitar heroes, especially early Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Hubert Sumlin, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Freddy King, Gatemouth Brown, Robert Lockwood, and Muddy Waters. Cryin’ Hey! gave me a chance to pay tribute to them and all of the other great blues singers and musicians, and to try to make the listener feel the way those people made me feel with their music.
“…can rip the top of your head and cram your brains into your neck with his blues guitar work.”
- Rolling Stone
“Welch is becoming an all-around guitar master…”
- Living Blues
"Welch takes the music somewhere special when he plays."
- Down Beat
"An ass-kicking, axe-picking bluesman with a wide range of mood and colour"
- Mojo (UK)
“He’s a phenomenal blues player.”
- Duke Robillard
“A genius of a different generation”
- Blues Revue
Monster Mike Welch, Cryin’ Hey! Monster Mike Welch Plays The Blues (DixieFrog Records, 2005)
Monster Mike Welch Band, Adding Insight To Injury (95North Records, 2004)
Mike Welch, Catch Me (Tone Cool Records, 1998)
Monster Mike Welch, Axe to Grind (Tone Cool Records, 1997 – released in France by Skyranch/Virgin)
Monster Mike Welch , These Blues are Mine (Tone Cool Records, 1996 – released in France by Skyranch/Virgin)
Various Artists, Fins, Chrome and the Open Road: A Tribute to The Cadillac (95North Records, 2005)
Johnny Winter, I’m A Bluesman (Virgin/Pointblank, 2004)
Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones Featuring Monster Mike Welch (Severn Records, 2003)
Various Artists, The Story Of Tone-Cool, Vol.1 (Tone Cool Records, 2003)
Brian Templeton, Home (Stone Cold Records, 2000)
Tom Hambridge, Balderdash (Artemis Records, 2000)
The Repeat Offenders, The Best Defense (EP , self-released, 1999)
Shemekia Copeland, Turn the Heat Up (Alligator Records, 1998)
Mark Hummel, Low Down to Uptown (Tone Cool Records, 1998)
Mike and the Mellotones, Mike and the Mellotones (featuring Monster Mike Welch) (New Road Music,1997)
Skavoovie and the Epitones, Ripe (Moon Records, 1997)
Various Artists, Skankaholics Unanimous (Moon Records, 1997)
Skavoovie and the Epitones, Riverboat/Beardman Ska (Moon Records single, 1996)
Various Artists, Keep the Pressure On (Kingpin Records, 1996)