May 27, 2017.
Tracy Madison is in Woodstock NY with her daughter, sitting in the town green, when notifications from social media reveal that Gregg Allman passed away.
Mike Menza is in Cobleskill, NY, posting a tribute video, Come and Go Blues, in honor of Gregg.
This is the day the Menza Madison Band was formed.
Tracy had been singing since she was a kid. Brought up on the songs her Daddy loved, she had a passion for music in all its many forms. Mike too was handed down the music of his father and one very important component....vintage guitars. Both grew up with old souls and found it hard to fit into their respective generations. They both were in love with the sound and spirit of the music that drifted out of America, as far back as the land of the Delta Blues. They shared a passion and an ear for the tone and heart of the music that exploded out of the 60’s and 70’s.
The year of 2017 found them both living in a quiet little farm town in Upstate NY. Tracy had lived in the area most of her life, but Mike was born and raised on the streets of Greenwich Village. Worlds apart their entire lives, now living only a few blocks away from one another. Mike was pursuing his passion for wildlife, working hard at the Department of Environmental Conservation and Tracy was busy working as a nurse and a single Mom raising her two daughters.
In the 10 years before she met Mike, Tracy found herself in the hands of man who made it his mission to break her in every way a person can be broken. This "breaking" and the untimely death of her hero, her Father, left her at a total loss. Among the many things that were taken over the years, her voice was one of them. The loss and trauma left her unable to sing. Her fight to reclaim her life and the mountain she had climb to bring her abuser to justice led her back to her music. It is our stories and our struggles as well as our triumphs that shape us and that time in her life left her ready to pursue her music full tilt.
So, it was with a fresh pair of eyes and a renewed joy and passion for life, that Tracy watched Mike’s tribute to Gregg that day in Woodstock. The heart hitting tone of Mike’s Les Paul, the soul and honesty with which he played made Tracy 100% certain that Mike was the one who could help her bring her vision of returning to performing, to life.
Although they were “friends” on social media, they had never formally met, just a few passing hellos at local open mics. After one simple conversation they were off and running. With a shared fire in their bellies for the music of The Allman Brothers Band, Johnny Winter, Bonnie Raitt, Jimmy Reed, Freddie King, just to name a few, Tracy and Mike joined forces to create the Menza Madison Band.
The band has turned in to a powerhouse collaboration that has taken on many incarnations over its short life. Mike’s father, Joe agreed to come on board temporarily to help them out as a second guitarist. But after one rehearsal, he was hooked and Joe’s expertise and vision has helped guide the project and push it to higher ground. Joe is known world wide as a vintage guitar dealer and historian and was Mike’s mentor, shaping and forging the incredible artist that Mike has become. And Joe came with a story the MMB treasures.....he had the honor of experiencing The Allman Brother's Band in it's original glory, with Duane at the helm.
The MMB built a strong following in the little town of Cobleskill that year. Mike soon relocated to the Hudson Valley and from there the band has grown, extending its reach to the streets of NYC to Syracuse. They have proudly shared the stage with The Bruce Katz Band, Scott Sharrard and his band, The Jamie McLean Band and brought its fearless heart and grit to venues up and down the Hudson river line, including the world class venue, The Falcon.
Mike’s slide playing is downright nasty. Joe and Mike’s seamless lead guitar harmonies created with their strict “no pedals” policy fronted by Tracy’s shameless, soul shaking vocals and backed by Rich Sarles and Tim Chanowitz’s freight train rhythm, is nothing short of show stopping.
They are on a mission. Keepin’ the flame lit. Resurrecting the music of the ones who brought the Blues and roots of Rock ‘n Roll to the world, they intend to keep the heartbeat strong and bring the music back to the people. Their original music is reminiscent of that golden era in Rock 'n Roll history and is about one thing and one thing only... Soul.
The Menza Madison Band wants it's listeners to remember one thing.... The Blues is about life. Not only the hardship and struggle of the human condition, but about love, joy and living. It’s about soul. It will make you weep, makes you smile, kicks you in the ass and winds you up just the same.
As the great Mr. Albert King said, “If you can’t dig the Blues, you got a hole in your Soul.”
See you on down the road…