About Michael Mandrell

"A guitarist of eclectic sensibilities and delicate technique. His music circles the globe in imagistic compositions."

Michael Mandrell is an artist of life whose music expresses the fiber of his being.

Born in Houston, Texas in 1957, Michael Mandrell's first introduction to guitar began at the young age of 9 when, after receiving a guitar for Christmas, his mother noticed a natural inclination and arranged for him to take lessons down the street with a neighborhood folk guitarist.

Influenced in those early days by the burgeoning Celtic folk music revival taking place in Britain, France and North America, the headwaters of Michael's inspiration continued to flow as he explored the diversity of open tunings, the nuanced harmonic palates of modern jazz influences and even East Indian modalities.  Mandrell honed his open-tuning guitar craft in the early 80's on the Texas folk circuit, performing with and opening for many prominent and upcoming artists such as Nancy Griffith, Lyle Lovett, John Gorka, Kate Wolf, Spyro Gyra, California Guitar Trio, William Ackerman, Shadowfax, Townes Van Zandt and Robert Mirabal.

In 1995, Michael's debut album, "The Deepening Edge", was licensed by Blix Street Records, also the label home to internationally acclaimed songstress, the late Eva Cassidy. Following this release, Michael's first solo album "The Great Spiral Dance" was well received, garnishing national radio play including feature performances on Echoes Living Room Concerts, as well as being the feature score for the widely acclaimed documentary, "Stone Reader" (Mark Moskowitz, 2003). He has since produced and recorded over 6 albums, and continues to collaborate on numerous projects in film, dance, art and music.

Described by Public Radio International's Echoes host John Diliberto, Michael is "...the acoustic guitar player infusing his original melodies and Indian scales with a Celtic lilt." His musical sleight of hand points the listener away from his redoubtable fingerstyle technique. And therein lies the pleasure of it –music played with such skill and finesse that the technical prowess is just one element in a fuller experience that strums the soul and transports the imagination. One senses both a deeply playful and serious undercurrent in Mandrell's compositions, which have an unparalleled sense of lyrical freedom that stand alone as shimmering harmonic works of art.

He has the unique ability to take a single guitar and open into a multicultural tapestry of orchestral depth as he takes his audiences on riveting and and mesmerizing sonic journeys that defy classification -- crossing the boundaries of Celtic, world beat, classical, jazz, folk, and traditional. His musical worldview expresses the wide-ranging aspirations of the human spirit, enlivening the listener with the spirit of a master raconteur telling the grand archetypal story–“I lived that.” The effect lingers long after the last note has resonated. Not to be missed!

Michael currently makes his home in Portland, Oregon and Taos, New Mexico. He plays a mix of handmade steel string guitars from luthiers Tom Cornett, Stephen Smith and Mike Doolin.
"Just do whatever it is that you’ve always wanted to do, whether you ever really get great at it or not. Don’t even worry about that. Just do it, the rest will unfold, it’ll make itself apparent." 
Michael with his 12-string handmade acoustic guitar crafted by luthier Stephen Smith.

Michael with his 12-string handmade acoustic guitar crafted by luthier Stephen Smith.