Essential Guitarist Feature
Text by Simon Badham – Transcriptions and lesson by Mike Campese.
Mike Campese’s resume is to die for. His band have opened shows for some of Metal’s biggest acts: George Lynch era Dokken, Winger, Vinnie Moore (maybe not so metal) and the Spin Doctors (edging towards cardboard). Mike also gets an honorable mention for being part of the opening act (on two tours) for one of Shred’s foremost pioneers…Yngwie ‘loves a Twinky’ Malmsteen.
This performance pedigree doesn’t come as much of a surprise when you learn that Mike is a GIT Honors Grad who has studied with among others, Paul Gilbert, Scott Henderson and all round shit hot jazz virtuosi Wayne Krantz. However, move the great musical schooling to one side and the real Mike Campese starts to reveal himself.
Mike is the model for today’s successful independent artist (especially a predominant instrumentalist). In the current musical climate a savvy independent musician knows that ability alone will not guarantee a long successful career and decent record sales…some form of sustenance is required. To make up Mike’s daily three square musical meals, and help fund his ever exploratory solo albums he authors instructional material (for Guitar Player magazine and various websites) and teaches guitar professionally (60 students a week and a gig at the Burnt Hills Music Academy). This dedication to craft and determined pursuit of a life in music is the perfect representation of the surviving modern independent artist, and it certainly reaps it’s rewards as apparent on Mike’s latest offering “Vibe”.
The CD sleeve to “Vibe” gives away just how much success Mike has managed to achieve. As well as looking aesthetically professional, on the insert photographs he’s flanked by at least $10,000 worth of high end Tom Anderson Strats! “Vibe” is a vast musical canvas on which Campese paints an interesting mix of moods, ideas and styles, swaying dramatically from tender acoustic phrasing to full tilt neo classical shred (the album clocks in at a huge 73 minutes). To his credit, Mike sounds supremely confident throughout each of the 16 tracks. Surprisingly, their are also three vocal cuts which nicely break the instrumental milieu and gives a snapshot into his approach when writing band orientated material…his voice is pretty good too.
Mike kindly offered to write an accompanying guitar lesson for this feature focusing on improvisational ideas (taken from his CFH Instructional) and excerpts from his latest album “Vibe”.