Born: 1957 in Milwaukee, WI
Styles: Modern Electric Blues, Soul-Blues, Pop/Rock, Blues-Rock
Born in Milwaukee in 1957, blues guitarist Michael Burks began learning his instrument at an early age - inspired by his musical family (his father played bass and often performed alongside harmonica legend Sonny Boy Williamson II, while his grandfather was a Delta-style bluesman from Camden, AR). By the age of five, he was playing along with his father, and picked up a thing or two from his parent's record collection - his father would often give his young son incentive to learn songs by offering him a dollar for each tune he could successfully figure out from beginning to end (a year later he made his performance debut in front of an audience, when he joined a cousin's band on stage). In the early '70s, Burks' father moved his family to Arkansas, and opened up the Bradley Ferry Country Club (a 300-seat juke joint), as Burks was hired as the leader of the house band, backing numerous blues and R&B greats that played the venue.
By the time the club closed in the mid-'80s, Burks briefly put his love of blues on the backburner, as he supported himself by taking a job as a mechanical technician for Lockheed Martin, although he still managed to play clubs and regional festivals. In 1997, Burks issued his very first album, From the Inside Out, producing the entire record himself, which immediately racked up impressive reviews from several esteemed blues publications (Blues Access raved the debut was "the most impressive indie in recent memory," while Living Blues named it one of "the best debut discs of the year"). 2001 saw Burks' debut recording for the Alligator label, Make It Rain, produced in Memphis by Jim Gaines (Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan) and Bruce Iglauer (Albert Collins, Johnny Winter). Two years later, I Smell Smoke was released followed by Iron Man in 2008, both on Alligator.
- Greg Prato (All Music Guide)
Like a freight train rolling through the night, guitarist/vocalist Michel Burks plows through the blues with relentless power and a full head of steam. Combining his remarkable talent with an intense dedication to his craft, Michael has earned well-deserved national recognition and become one of the blues world"s fastest rising blues stars. Although he was a W.C. Handy Award nominee for Best New Artist 2000, Michael is a seasoned veteran in every sense. His first gig came at the age of six, when, during a family trip to southern Arkansas, the fledgling Burks took the stage with his cousin"s band and thrilled an unsuspecting audience. Today, each live performance is a testament to Michael"s thirty-plus years of playing the blues. His hard-driving fretwork and captivating showmanship have ignited a legion of fans, as audiences from coast to coast can"t help but jump on the Michael Burks train.
The unstoppable, heartfelt intensity that Michael brings to the stage lies at the very core of his appeal. Loyal, dedicated fans around the country already know and appreciate the sweat and hard work he puts forth each night. Multiple performances at premier festivals such as Springing the Blues in Jacksonville Beach, FL and The King Biscuit Festival in Helena, AR continue to add even more fuel to the fervid, word of mouth upwelling that has steadily developed around the budding star. By partnering with Alligator Records, Michael Burks is indeed rolling along the main line. The combination of his deep, soul infused music with the established experience of Alligator will finally bring Michael Burks the attention he has always deserved.