Journeys of Discovery: Central Coast musician shares California’s unsung country music legacy

19 hours ago

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Monterey-based country and western musician Mike Beck. Beck talks about California’s unsung role as a prime incubator of America’s country and western musical genre, which gelled back in the 1950s and ‘60s with hotbeds in Bakersfield and Los Angeles.

In addition to singing and playing his guitar, Beck shares tales and snippets from his long career that includes friendships with the Band’s Levon Helm, Merl Haggard, and Ian Tyson, as well as meeting legends such as Buck Owens, Bob Dylan, and Al Jardine of the Beach Boys.

Beck is an engaging acoustic solo artist who performs in the United States and Europe, and is a regularly-featured performer at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada.

Beck has produced seven albums with original songs that have been recognized as some of the finest Western Americana compositions. Western Horseman magazine recently selected "the 13 Best Cowboy Songs," which included two compositions by Beck, placing him in company with legends such as Ian Tyson, Tom Russell, Lucinda Williams, and Gene Autry.

Beck’s strong command of the guitar and musical style is reminiscent of Steven Stills and he’s frequently invited to present guitar workshops at music festivals across America and overseas.  

"Mike Beck is one of those writers with the cowboy in his heart. His songs are filled with braided rawhide and mission bells..... Listen up, friend!"  -Tom Russel

"Mike's plowing new ground. He's not re-recording the old Hollywood matinee music from the 30's and 40's. You've got to have focus and keep producing good stuff. I think he walks that.... he's better than all those newer western guys."  -Ian Tyson

"Mike plays the guitar like a Byrd. His strings do things that mine never could do. They obey the slightest finger-touch commands like a fine reining horse."  -Ramblin' Jack Elliott

The interview with Beck was recorded live at a house concert at Gloria Fiscalini’s ranch in Cambria, California on July 14, 2018.

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