What people are saying about Mike Kavanaugh:

Mark Donovan
owner of 
The Cellar Door
32905 Grand River
Farmington, MI 48336

"Gee, I've tried to describe Mike's music to a few friends recently, but have had a difficult time putting it in a category.   He plays guitar and sings = true.  It is super special = true.  I suppose the word that comes to my mind is "soul," but this is not rocking soul, this is soulful soul.   It may be folk music after all, but when Craig joins in with that violin, I don't think there is a sound more sweet to melt your heart.   This music is so passionate that it will make a great opportunity to take out your sweetheart for a date even before Valentines day.   Even if you just want to go out and "hear something good," this should be it."




February 1, 2008 E-mail announcement
 by  Mark Donovan, owner of 
The Cellar Door, Farmington, MI


Lansing Capital Area Blues Society
E-Newsletter, June 2003






Lansing's Capital Area Blues Society

"Mike plays a unique blend of blues and singer/songwriter material..."


snippets from
Best Bet" Selection of the Week

At some music stores, you can listen to a CD before you buy it.  At Rhythm Alley in downtown Jackson, you can hear the artists live...

Kevin Nichols...played with another local singer-songwriter, Mike Kavanaugh, and Paul Miles of Southfield in a singer-in-the-round format last month...

Kavanaugh, a late addition to the lineup, gave a short talk before one of his songs on the importance of promoting local original music.  "The people of Jackson need to get out and hear what they're missing," Kavanaugh said, "It's really special."

Blake Woods, 27, of Jackson, who had a front row seat for his first in-store performance at Rhythm Alley, said..."This is great," Woods said, "I'd like things like this to happen more often."...


On the cover of
Jackson Citizens Patriot
In Town & Around
Thursday, February 27, 2003


The Blues Ambassador
Lansing, MI
March 2003 Issue


snippets from
Taking Turns...

by J. D. Jamieson

Rhythm Alley (downtown Jackson) was home, on a cold January afternoon, to a very warm performance by three equally talented acoustic singer, songwriter, guitarists...   Kevin Nichols, Mike Kavanaugh and Paul Miles (from the Detroit area) maintained a creative energy...for more than five hours.

Presented as an "in-the-round" format, the musicians took turns entertaining the near full house gathering.  The music was great, but their life stories told in this intimate setting was what made the day.  The day included generous amounts of laughter, love songs, blues, whistles, friendship, sharing and transfer of skills and information between the artists...

Adding to the buzz for the day, the room was occupied by various members of the media, writers and a photographer from the newspaper.  Plus video was taken for a local TV show.

This was an afternoon I will not soon forget.  In this world of stress producing events it felt good to sit and listen to great music and forget about my worries for a while.  I heard comments from more than one person in the room, that they had pressing things to do that day but decided to put them off because this was one show you did not want to miss one minute of...



Interview with Happy Hippie

What inspired the The Whale Song?

You had to pick a weird one, eh? OK, I was watching a news program about 14 whales beaching themselves on Cape Cod and I had this, like, daydream that became this song. It is a song about the irony of mankind as a race rationalizing abortion while supporting things like trying to save whales. I am neither pro-choice nor pro-life, however. I believe both groups are too far away from something realistic. I am interested in protecting unborn children but not at the total, legal and very potentially lethal or mental expense of the pregnant woman regardless of the circumstances. Pro-life leaders should be setting up systems to make it incredibly easy for a woman to choose something other than abortion if she finds herself unexpectedly pregnant rather than protesting, etc.

Gee, that was fun. Can we talk politics or religion now? :-) Seriously though, it is not a song meant to make people feel intimidated or to condemn - but to make them (us) think about what we as a nation or as a race have decided to allow. Some of my favorite artists - Joni Mitchell and Bruce Cockburn, for example, use song to make people think about the way things are that perhaps should be very different.

I have heard a lot of artists talk about "getting" songs rather than writing them - that they seem to just fall into you and you write it down and play it out. That happens to me quite a bit and I put this song in that class. I am not one that works hard to write songs - perhaps I should work harder.

Is your favorite color RED?  (The name of Mike's CD is "Red".)

red1.GIF (6663 bytes)No. But some of my favorite things are red: apples, a sexy red dress, luscious red lips - some of the nicer red images. I chose Red as the title song because I see the color red used to express so many things: love, lust, anger, bloody murder, embarrassment, stop, mercy, passion... I like the twist of that kind of thing - such diversity in usage that you have to see it in context to understand its meaning. No, I think my favorite color is blue though, come to think of it, I drive a red vehicle, Barbara has reddish hair... I am toying with the idea of using the title Blue for my second CD and trying to focus around a blue/blues theme. I also have a song entitled, "Hey (I used to be a black man)" that goes into the meanings of colors. I've gotten some funny looks in bars singing the opening line of that tune...

Future plans & aspirations?

Yes, when I grow up I would like to become a street musician. :-) That is partially very serious - one of my all-time musical heroes is Rev. Gary Davis who did gospel blues on street corners for much of his life. I envy that. I have been in the automotive/automation industry as a developer of special assembly systems, etc., for 26 years. While I like the excitement and challenge and sometimes the absolute insanity of the system, it requires a lot of my mental capacity and I want more left when I get home from work. More to create with, more to inspire with, more to touch others with.

The past 9-odd years here in Michigan have been a drain on my brain. I very recently gave my 5 years' notice at work to let them know that I will be gone in 5 years. Going home: our family is planning on moving to Cape Cod (Massachusetts) and living a humble existence - perhaps even opening a coffeehouse of our own. We want the kids near their grandparents and I want to be near the ocean.

Fortunately, as an artist, I am not in some kind of race with the clock. I have until I die. The art of music is ageless and those with a fine ear will find and listen to musical richness regardless of the artist's age or looks or lack of hype. I have this to be thankful for: my musical heroes are not flash-in-the-pan, one-hit wonders that disappeared from the music world by the time they reached twenty-two. They are artists, not entertainers. I had someone ask me once if I really enjoyed being an entertainer. I said I was only an entertainer if she happened to find my music entertaining. I don't do requests or hits or things like that (although I do feel left out that just about everyone else on the planet does a version of Mustang Sally - I actually toyed with the idea writing of a tune like Subaru Sue or Beetle Betty. Maybe for my 80th birthday...)

We thank Mike for his groovy tunes and encourage y'all to visit his site!



Interview with Happy Hippie
November 2000


The Buzz! News
Jackson, MI
February 2000 Issue


Mike Kavanaugh Project

by Ben Arnold

Mercy sakes alive, Mike Kavanaugh smokes!

The Mike Kavanaugh Project entertained at Aggies in Jackson Crossing on January 8th.  Several things distinguish Mike Kavanaugh from the run of the mill songwriter.  One is the simple fact that he is miles above run of the mill, the other is the sound.  Kavanaugh uses studio quality rack mounted effects to achieve a sound which is nothing short of phenomenal.

Mike was joined onstage by none other than our very own Ed "Buzz" Childress.  It is good to see Ed get out from behind the Editor's desk and jam.  His tasteful chops and likeable stage personality are an asset to any ensemble that he deigns to grace with his presence.

Kavanaugh's music is a blend of blues, country and folk.  His insightful lyrics are reminiscent of venerable poet songwriters like Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, while his guitar work seamlessly spans decades with authentic renditions of blues great, such as the Reverend Gary Davis, and sixties cultural icons like Dylan and Peter Greene.  Kavanaugh's originals have an East Coast songwriter flair and intricate fingerstyle guitar technique.

Childress' bass work shone on a folk inflected version of Green Manilishi (With A 2 Prong Crown).  He constantly fills in the bottom and articulates the rhythmic essence of the songs, be they old time blues, classic rock, or contemporary folk.

The Mike Kavanaugh Project is a combination worth driving out of town for.   The good news is, you don't have to drive out of town.  Look for this duo to do a lot of work in local venues in the near future.  They will be at the Greystone Tavern on May 6th.



You don't have to ask Mike Kavanaugh if he's seen adversity in his life:  you just need to listen to his music to find the answer.

"Each of my songs reflects a certain episode in my life" says Kavanaugh, "Sometimes I say, 'That's enough!  I don't need any more songs!"

Kavanaugh's songs deal with a myriad of emotions.  Everything from cocaine addiction to the simple pleasure of watching tugboats on a Cape Cod beach are skillfully woven into a tapestry of music.  (Note from MCK:  The reviewer is slightly off on the Seagull Tugboats tune - it was inspired by a bunch of seagulls sitting in the water, looking like little tugboats at First Beach in Newport, Rhode Island)

Once, while on a business trip to El Paso, Texas, Kavanaugh found a newspaper ad for a church bowling league.  "I saw the way people just a few miles away (Juarez, Mexico) were living in squalor and then this ad for a bowling league just made me think of priorities.  That's when I wrote '(Here Comes) The Holy Bowling League"

If you are into original music that tells a story, catch him when he plays...but be prepared to think.



Acoustic Notes Section of
The Buzz News
Jackson, MI
November 1999 Issue


Snippets from 1/2 page article in
The Jackson Citizen Patriot
Jackson, MI
Sunday, November 14, 1999


Mike Kavanaugh leads a double life...

...By night, the Boston-area native is a coffeehouse musician, mesmerizing listeners with his insistent, pulsating guitar riffs and solid, husky vocals, performing the modern folk and gospel music he writes - and wishes he had written.

Singing in the sweet shadowland between baritone and tenor, Kavanaugh belts out tunes reminiscent of those penned by his "greatest mentor," Canadian songwriter, singer and guitarist, Bruce Cockburn...

...Like Cockburn, Kavanaugh's songs speak of life's snares and disappointments, and occasionally its joys.

The Parma resident's own intriguing titles include "Wild & Wicked Dogs", "Train Song", Seagull Tugboats" and "Two Trees".  Much of his storytelling-styled music spins off his own life experience.  Some of it has a gospel flare...



Mike - you are really talented.  Keep it up!  I'll try to get in here more often to hear you.

Wow!  I didn't know such talent existed in Spring Arbor!



Anonymous note left in tip jar at
the Idyll Hour Coffeehouse
Spring Arbor, MI
October 1, 1999



CD Review Section of
The Buzz News
Jackson, MI
January 2000 Issue


Mike Kavanaugh


This is one of the most original efforts we've seen, and surely one of the most talented.

Originally produced as a demo for Kavanaugh's solo act, the disc features the talents of Jax Blues Band's Greg Hurley on lead guitar,  bass, and drums.  Hurley also produced this disc.

All tunes are Kavanaugh penned and deal with a wide variety of subjects, all presented in thought provoking double entendre style.  Hurley's tasteful lead stylings pepper the entire CD and are at their tastiest in 'The Whale Song", a piece which should be on the radio.

Kavanaugh's fingerpicking is also a dominant force on this CD, and the whole package is a great departure from the same old same old - a definitive breath of fresh air.

Even if you've never been a huge fan of acoustic songwriters, you owe yourself a copy of this one.