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Michael Burks

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Styles: Modern Electric Blues, Soul-Blues, Blues-Rock

Biography

Born in Milwaukee in 1957, blues guitarist Michael Burks began learning his instrument at an early age — inspired by his musical family (his father played bass and often performed alongside harmonica legend Sonny Boy Williamson II, while his grandfather was a Delta-style bluesman from Camden, AR). By the age of five, he was playing along with his father, and picked up a thing or two from his parent’s record collection — his father would often give his young son incentive to learn songs by offering him a dollar for each tune he could successfully figure out from beginning to end (a year later he made his performance debut in front of an audience, when he joined a cousin’s band on stage). In the early ’70s, Burks’ father moved his family to Arkansas, and opened up the Bradley Ferry Country Club (a 300-seat juke joint), as Burks was hired as the leader of the house band, backing numerous blues and R&B greats that played the venue.

By the time the club closed in the mid-’80s, Burks briefly put his love of blues on the backburner, as he supported himself by taking a job as a mechanical technician for Lockheed Martin, although he still managed to play clubs and regional festivals.

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