Michael Mandrell

Michael Mandrell portrait

Guitarist Michael Mandrell is a passionate, contemporary fingerstyle guitarist and singer/songwriter with an ear for the World Fusion genre, whose style employs tinges of folk, jazz and an infusion of Celtic overtones. He is one of those rare artists who has a strong sense of his Western musical roots, yet can make beautiful and sophisticated forays into the music of the East. His intricate fretboard work and technique is known for its seductively smooth quality.

He has produced and collaborated on numerous CDs of original music, several featuring exotic instruments from around the world. Two of his releases with Benjy Wertheimer (Anjali and Notes from Celtistan have received heavy airplay on Public Radio International’s syndicated radio broadcast Echoes with host John Diliberto. His ambient Cascadia CD with David Michael has been a favorite with healing arts practitioners internationally. His tunes have been used in numerous productions and videos, as well as the documentary film Stone Reader.

As PRI’s executive producer Kimberly Hass observes:

Michael’s hybrid guitar style reveals a guitarist of eclectic sensibilities and delicate technique. His music circles the globe in imagistic compositions…..”

Michael, hailing from Taos New Mexico at the time, met harpist David Michael in 1994 while touring in the Pacific Northwest with singer/songwriter Jenny Bird and began a collaboration that has spanned over a quarter century. David, in turn, introduced Michael to his long-time friend Benjy Wertheimer and the circle widened.

The headwaters of Michael’s inspiration flow from his early exposure to the popular acoustic artists of the late 70s and early 80’s. He was drawn into the Celtic mythos of open tunings and spent time in Irish sessions and Celtic string bands while soaking up the influence of the bourgeoning Celtic folk music renaissance. After moving back to his hometown of Houston he met up with jazz guitarist Erich Avinger and luthier Steven Smith and explored new models of jazz and East Indian modalities.

From his current home base in Portland, Oregon, Michael performs for a wide range of audiences throughout the country on the acoustic circuit, from club dates to house concerts and new-thought churches. He plays a mix of handmade steel string guitars from luthiers Tom Cornett, Stephen Smith, and Mike Doolin. The guitar used on Confluence was built by Stephen Marchione. Wherever he travels, his music enlivens the listener with the spirit of a master raconteur telling the grand archetypal story–“I lived that.”