Mike Felten

He’s been accused of trafficking in “Outsider Americana.” Perhaps a better handle for Mike Felten’s highly distinctive musical approach would be “Chicagoana.” The Windy City is deeply and inexorably ingrained in the veteran singer-songwriter’s mesmerizing musical odes, right down to the names of streets that he’s wandered down and the shady characters haunting them in decades past. Mike knows where all the bones are buried and he’s not shy about letting us in on the secrets, blending folk, blues, and rock influences to spread the news.

Even in the middle of a pandemic, Mike’s muse hasn’t deserted him, although Fast Mikey Blue Eyes, his sixth studio CD for his own Landfill label (2017’s roots album of the year, 'Diamonds and Televisions,' was his previous release), was nearly completed when the virus hit. “I started writing songs, and wound up with about 30 of them,” he says. Only a dozen made the cut for the CD—11 of Felten’s own making and a very personalized revival of Blind Lemon Jefferson’s immortal “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.”

A wandering troubadour in the best possible sense who routinely hopped in his car and toured nationally until COVID-19 stilled the circuit (“I think I played 150 shows last year,” he says. “This year it’s probably about 30 or 40.”), Mike is the embodiment of the working-class Johnny Lunchbucket that he named one of his previous albums after. Apart from a dozen years spent in Michigan just after he got married, Felten’s made Chicago his home his entire life. “I’m a Chicago boy, so a good percentage of my stories are of Chicago,” he says. “Most of ‘em.” For 30 years, Mike owned Record Emporium on the North Side near where he grew up, a landmark store where music was both sold and played live and scenes for several movies were filmed.

Read more

Tags

Album Review
Read more articles
”A Chicago Legend. Chicago's Phil Ochs” - Mike Pecucci - Letterbomb

“Country, Blues and Folk blended together by a Windy City old stager; the results being surprisingly enjoyable.” Americana UK

“Woody Guthrie would’ve been proud”. Folkways legend Bob Everhart

“Unreconstructed freak folk” Midwest Record Magazine

“The real deal.” Illinois Entertainer

Willie Dixon
bass, acoustic
Buddy Guy
guitar, electric
Howlin' Wolf
voice / vocals
Bo Diddley
guitar

Albums

Fast Mikey Blue Eyes

Landfill Records
2020

buy

Diamonds and...

Landfill Records
2017

buy

Watch

Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.