Artist Review – Mike Finders

Free from the Local Music Project

Mike Finders from Marshalltown moved to Dubuque around 1990 and met Galena’s Amy Stott.  They formed a band, Fingers, recorded a record (best of luck finding THAT one*), and moved to Iowa City.  Talk about immediate validation.  Bluegrass godfather Al Murphy began performing with them.  Mill owner Keith Dempster began booking them.  After the usual ups and downs, they OWNED the Iowa City acoustic scene around the turn of the century.

Mike wrote great songs (still does), but listen to his picking.  Precise.  Intricate.  Amy, a stone beauty with a wicked sense of humor was born with kind of voice that usually you’d have to trade your soul for.  Al Murphy’s a keystone to Iowa City music.  I remember him playing in a band at Bart’s Place (Harvest Home?  Bluegrass Union?) in 1972, and he was a seasoned fiddler even then.  Billy Valencia played his usual impeccable bass.  When Al Murphy moved on, the sublime Dustin Busch (who also has a record in the Local Music Project) substituted dobro for fiddle.

Songs seemed to pour out of Mike.  He adopted this sadsack persona, which let him write funny and kept him humble.  Check out Back in the Band or Fifty Dollars.  I’m a sucker for story songs, and Mike wrote em (Adeline, Chuck Brown.)  Covers?  How about Frankie and Johnnie, Deep Elem Blues or their hilarious take on Dave Moore’s Take Our Time and Do It Right.  I just wish they’d recorded their version of Greg Brown’s If I Had Known.

Mike helped found the Burlington Street Bluegrass Band, which still plays the Mill alternate Wednesdays.  Amy was a founding member of the Awful Purdies (also in the Local Music Project).  Then they moved to Colorado and got divorced.  Mike carries on with Finnders (that’s how it’s pronounced) and Youngberg, who come back to town once or twice a year.  Don’t miss them.

Anyway, you can (probably) have free downloads of Where You Are, Crystal Blue Morning, and My Friends Told Me It Would Never Last at music.icpl.org  (You may have to get a library card and move to Iowa City.)  You’ll have to buy A Breeze Away From Gone.  You should.

*I have it.

John Hiett

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