BIO: Michael Burkart-Mikey B3
“Music is my meditation, my outer body travel, my emotion, my passion and through rhythm, imagination, dance and explosion, you see me as Mikey B3 and my keyboard and organ style.”
-Michael Burkart, Lead singer and Hammond B3 Organ player
As a native of St. Bernard, Louisiana, Michael Burkart (known as Mikey B3) grew up in Arabi, the first town of St. Bernard Parish before Chalmette, near the 9th ward in New Orleans that’s now so famous from Hurricane Katrina. As a young child Burkart was fascinated with guitar playing, harmonica, and just rocking out like most kids his age, but figured out his true musical love would be the keys after recording with a B3 on Sweet Peas Revenge.
“I had no formal training on keys,” said Michael Burkart. “Because of playing with the Revealers, one of the top Reggae bands in NOLA, the percussive style of skanks, bubbles, and natural roots rhythms gave me the base and foundation of the organ style you hear today. I really developed as a musician. I never tried to sound like a typical Nola keyboard player -just myself.”
Over the past 15 years, this veteran musician shared the stage with Big Chief Bo Dollis (The Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians), Big Chief Bo Dollis Jr. (The Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians), Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, The Revealers, The Brass-A-Holics, Billy Iuso & Restless Natives, Mark Stone Band, Anders Osborne, George Porter Jr, Gravity A, Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity/ Down), Iko Allstars, New Orleans Suspects, Eric Lindell Sweet Pea’s Revenge ( Jim Brown), Irene Sage Band, Captain Midnight Band, Renard Poche (Renard Poche Band & Neverwas Brothers), Reggie Scanlan (Radiators/New Orleans Suspects/Neverwas Brothers), Willie Green (Neville Brothers/Neverwas Brothers/The UnderDawgs), Tony Hall (Neverwas Brothers), Kirk Joseph (Back Yard Groove/Founding Member of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band), Juice, Jake Eckert (Jake Eckert Band/Dirty Dozen Brass Band/New Orleans Suspects), Mike Zito Band, Chris Mule’ (Honey Island Swamp Band), Eddie Christmas, Big Chief Smiley Ricks, Shamarr Allen, Mark Pentone, Eddie Bo, Aaron Wilkinson (Honey Island Swamp Band), Afro Skull, Nolatronics ( Duo Electronica with DJ Ras Dave), Ruben Williams (Thunderbirds Management/The Uppressers), Johnny Dilks and the Highway Kind, Clarence Bucaro, Jack Cruz, and Mike Doussan (West Bank Mike), Voo Davis just to name a few. Along with some of the famous names Burkart has shared the stage with, he’s had the opportunity to play at several world renowned festivals including New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Aspen Creek Festival, French Quarter Festival, Ferret Street Festival, Oak Street Po-Boy Festival, Bear Creek Fest, Dog Stock Fest, Pauly’s New Orleans Blues & Jazz Festival, Shag Fest in New Orleans, Satchmo SummerFest, Riverbend Music Festival, Pass Christian BBQ & Blues Festival, Bay Harbor Festival, Street Beat Festival, French Bread Festival in Gulfport, MSm and more! During this time Burkart honed his musical talent while making others’ dreams come true on the stage.
“For years I have been a backup musician and singer for others, being that guy who helped birth others musical ideas. I found myself never really expressing my own musical vision and realized I had to get it out in my own voice. One of my first real favorite bands was Pink Floyd, so the jammin’ psychedelic sound comes from that and my imagination takes me too many places,” said Burkart. “I started with a trio called Master Ew which eventually became Dr. Gonzeaux. That was the first time I started writing and singing my own music. Once I realized my potential was so much more than just a backup guy; that was it. Chris Segar and I were the original singers in the band, but I soon had to front the whole show and decided to start a side gig as a trio at Nola’s Old Point Bar to practice my songs and vocals. Even though the band was in the studio, a break up was inevitable and I was left with my songs recorded but no band to play them with. Like any real New Orleanian I rebuilt myself from the ruins by taking my nickname, Mikey B3 (from bringing my Hammond B3 organ everywhere) and created my own trio.”
Burkart experimented with his personal sound that he calls “Trout Jam" which he showcases on his project Mikey B3. All of Burkart’s past musical influences have blended together like the perfect gumbo when it comes to the sound of Mikey B3. Of course any New Orleanian knows a good gumbo starts with a great roux and local seafood, which in this case is a mixture of New Orleans Funk, Reggae, R&B, Dance, all stirred up together with some Hard Classic Rock and Motown Soul to bring the fans of Mikey B3 coming back for more every time.
“The trout is a symbolism of the murky bayou waters I grew up in where speckled trout fish was one of the most sought after fish from my family and sometimes a hard fish to catch depending on the current and height of the waters,” said Burkart. “You never know…that’s me always moving and we jam my songs. I swim in my musical bliss. I'm a percussionist trapped in a guitar players’ body, that plays organ and keys while singing and dancing!”
As a group Mikey B3, unlike most organ trios, isn’t just an instrumental band. Powerful vocals along with meaningful lyrics weave together through hypnotic rhythms and beats. While Burkart plays multi key and instruments at times; a Mikey B3 show always dominates with the Hammond B3 organ, hence the Name Mikey B3 speaking for itself. Some might compare Burkart on organ to Marco Benoveto on piano with all the effects and pedals. By taking the tones of a B3 and blending it with the effects, Burkart reinvents the rhythmic beats into something completely different. At times Burkart has been known to hit the delay pedal creating liquid space sounds, go off into a deep purple grungy grit sound, and of course bring on the traditional gospel jazz and straight up organ jam session to the stage. Some believe the sound Mikey B3 produces is similar to Medeski Martin and Wood with vocals! Burkart can take his songbook into a long jam at any minute with a sudden change in dynamics, pace, or energy and then bam -right back into the song again.
“My life always influences me…But I’m a daydreamer and inventor of stories; some real and some not. When I write it’s usually based upon visions, daydreams and a combination of melodies that come into my head. Some are dark while others are light,” said Burkart when describing his musical creativity. “There is an ocean of music in me that I have not discovered or seen yet, but it must come out. I don’t want to be labeled for one style of music or ever play a show of one music or style.”
On Burkart’s Mikey B3 recordings, the listener will find Burkart takes the sounds of New Orleans, Swamp, Rock, Jazz, Funk, and infuses it with his life experiences drenched in Hammond B3, seasoned piano, Fender Rhodes, clavinet and harp, along with vocals of pure soulful emotion to create a sound unlike any other in this region; hence the term “Trout Jam!” Mikey B3 approaches music like a mad scientist that won’t disappoint his pupils. To see this musical explosion live brings the laws of motion and relativity to a new hair flying head banging level as his body never stops moving while his eyes are entranced as if he’s floating in another dimension. Burkart’s hands move at extreme speeds across his Hammond B3 which has tones like no else's because of the non-traditional style and love of effects. The natural roar of a Hammond B3 and using multiple keys gives his trio Mikey B3 the sound of a full band playing songs of all styles while always showcasing the Hammond B3 Organ.
To make sure the Mikey B3 trio has an original style that Burkart would never find ordinary, he enlisted Vinnie Le Bella(Exhorder) on guitar and Terry Scott Jr. (current) on drums. Mikey B3 plays actual songs, not just impromptu jams that are often imitated in sound for many typical New Orleans style bands. By taking a percussive style of playing and infusing it with effects, Mikey B3 has created an appealing sound for all. Even though Burkart has several favorite songs to play at each show, he believes “Living In The City” is probably one of his favorites as well as “Hang My Head,” because of the pure emotion, symbolism and truth the songs project. Of course the organ jam at the end is just plain fun too!
Currently on the recording side of things, Burkart has presented his trio, Mikey B3, under Michael Burkart Presents Mikey B3, a Self-Titled album that will be rereleased Fall, 2013. At the same time the trio known as Mikey B3 recently completed a Presonus studio live 242.2: live recording and are in the mixing process with Marc Hewitt of Sound Services Recording. On the personal side Burkart also has just completed some projects including Mike Darby Mike Darby Band Release Date 2013 , Mike Doussan Band Untitled Release Date Fall 2013, and was featured in a Brass-A-Holics video recorded in early Summer 2013; a group he often sits in with when their key player is out of town. Burkart will also be busy in the recording studio this fall working with The Revealers, Irene Sage Band, Billy Iuso and The Restless Natives recording in New York at the Shrine, along with a new side project that includes Big Chief Smiley Ricks and One Nation Band.