Though he is now living in the Southwest, Tucson, AZ to be exact, guitarist Michael Friedmann grew up locally, graduating from Bellows Falls Union High School. He also began his musical career here and was involved with several Southern Vermont bands before moving to Tucson to work for, and get a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies, at the University of Arizona, where he has been a sign language interpreter since 1996.
Michael has recently completed a new CD, Stuck in Samsara, available on CD Baby, and will be back in the region performing this summer. An old friend, I've known Michael and his family for many years, and have heard him play numerous times with several different bands over the years. We share a mutual interest in a wide range of music, and when he's in the area, usually get out to listen to some live music.
Michael started singing as a kid, with his first school performance at Bellows Falls Middle School. He started playing guitar at about 15, and notes his earliest influences as Simon and Garfunkle, The Beatles, Billy Joel, Hall and Oates and Elton John.
"I don't claim to sound like any of these people (or to be Buddhist)," he said of his influences. "Stuff goes in, stuff comes out. They say great artists don't borrow ideas from other artists, they steal them. That sounds about right to me."
He's long had an interest in Buddhism. and studied a lot of martial arts, in particular aikido and tae kwondo.
When asked about the new CD, he said it was hard to categorize it.
"I'm always at a loss to describe the new CD," he said. "Someone recently called it jazz. I think the term has become meaningless. I'm saying this is the way a jazz musician would play pop music. It's singer songwriter. Brooding. Moody. I'm kind of envisioning the album as a story. A collection of stories. The vicissitudes of life. Loss, regret, pain. redemption?"