NORFOLK, Va., March 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Well-traveled Virginia troubadour Mike Aiken may well have been born in the wrong century. An inner sense of chivalry oozes from every track on CAPTAINS & COWBOYS , his sixth studio album on Northwind Records, which issues April 22. As the title track says, "Save the babies, kiss the ladies, having drinks with my friends" is a code Mike lives by. Aiken also addresses global environmental issues, love, loss and personal freedom in this conceptualized offering.
Aiken has drawn tales - and hope - from "trail riders, aging rodeo champs, sea captains, Rastafarians and outlaws on the lamb" and crafted a disc that draws the threads of these independent spirits together. This is the first effort on which Aiken opted for outside production assistance, drawing upon the talents of Dan Baird (Georgia Satellites) and Ben Strano ( Jack Sundrud/Poco). The result gives the listener a remarkably clear vision of Mike as an artist.
"Dan and Ben really 'got' the appeal that old silver screen heroes, singing cowboys and swashbuckling sailors have always held for me," Mike notes. "That gave me the freedom to focus on the songs," he adds. It also allowed him to "gel" with the other pickers on the project. Players like Dan Dugmore on pedal steel ( James Taylor, Little Big Town), Tammy Rogers on fiddle and mandolin (Grammy-nominated SteelDrivers), the multi-talented Michael Webb on accordion, bass, B3 (Poco) and Michael Grando on drums ( Todd Snider, Chris Knight) left their comfort zones behind and played fearlessly without a net. Aiken brought his signature acoustic, awesome electric slide and his rich baritone guitar to the mix.
With the warmth of Lightfoot, the earthiness of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the unerring timing of Billy Joe Shaver, Aiken's vocals are uninhibited on his own sweetly vibrant " Virginia" and Country Joe McDonald's poignant lament "Save The Whales." The title track crackles with a longing for the old West and the open sea, while the earth-shattering " Coal Train " ( Mike Aiken, Larry Berwald) sadly outlines the destruction of our shrinking Appalachian mountains. "Get Down River" ( Brian Henneman) highlights the challenges of living hand-in-hand with Mother Nature, while Aiken's "Bring Out The Bourbon" recalls late night communions with ex-pats found around the globe. Other writers contributing to the project include: Tim Buppert, Michael Burton, Austin Cunningham, Brad Davis and Steve Williams."There's not a song on this project that doesn't fit," Aiken explains. "The album was two years in the making. I'd written many tunes during that time but not many made it onto this record. They weren't bad, but the fit wasn't right," he adds. A writer of enormous depth, Mike knows whereof he speaks: he has lived on a sailboat for the past 20 years, sailed across oceans as a USCG-licensed captain, raised horses and made his living as a farrier. His inspirations and talent come together on this seminal CD that should move Mike to the forefront of the Americana/Roots movement. So saddle up, put sail to the wind and enjoy this ride with him.