Alaska Star
December 31, 1996

Crooner Campbell strikes
a chord with audiences
by Deanna Thomas
Alaska Star Reporter

During his time off from being a weights and measures inspector for the State of Alaska, Mike Campbell sings about moose who eat junk food and his brother who died during his childhood.

Blessed with an amazing deep voice, Campbell can belt out any one of his original tunes with the best of them. In his newly released album "High Country," Campbell both establishes himself as an accomplished songwriter and cements himself a spot in the folk elite of Alaska.

His ability to perform in front of a crowd is just as impressive as his musical talent. Cracking jokes and talking to the audience throughout his performance at Jitters Saturday evening, Campbell builds a rapport with his followers. He makes it clear that he is having a good time and insists that the audience does the same.

Sitting in that crowd of people is his biggest fan - his wife Tawmmie, who sits beside Campbell during his performance selling his albums and lipsynching each song to herself. Tawmmie Campbell walks around the room as Campbell begins to sing, making sure that the speakers are giving out just enough sound.

Despite his success with local crowds, Campbell said he does not plan on quitting his day job any time soon. "Music doesn't pay real well up here in Alaska," he explained. If it became more profitable, he said he would consider taking up singing as his main profession. "I think I would like to be a full-time singer/songwriter."

Still, money isn't his main motivation for singing. "The reason I do it isn't for money, the reason I do it is for fun."

With a mother who was a member of the San Francisco Opera Company, Campbell was taught to enjoy music at an early age. His familiy, he said, always sang together during his childhood. "When we get together, we still sing," he said.

Now, as an adult, Campbell has continued to make music a family affair. On his first album, "The Sculptor," Campbell's two oldest children played background music.

Campbell has also written songs about his family members, the most touching of which is one about his older brother who died when he was 9, which he says is his favorite.

"The song has helped me get through the grief that I didn't even know I still had," he said of writing the song. "When I first wrote the song I couldn't sing in public---it was too emotional."

Another compelling family song is one Campbell wrote for his oldest daughter Tracy before she went off to college for the first time called "I Hate To See You Go."

Campbell weaves Alaskan landscape and emotions together with the ease of an accomplished songwriter. His message is clear and heartwarming when he sings "though I know it's time for you to get out on your own, Tracy I sure hate to see you go."

While these songs tug at people's heartstrings, most of Campbell's songs can be characterized as upbeat. Just as he had members teary when he sang about Tracy, he had people laughing when he sang his song "Free Walter," about a crab who goes to Hollywood and gets sued by a starlet.

Whether he is singing about Walter the crab or about living in a trailer park, Campbell is unique.

Those interested in seeing Campbell perform live, can attend Vagabond Blues in Palmer from 8-10 p.m. on Jan. 11 or Qupqugiaq Cafe on Jan. 18. People can pick up his album "High Country," at the following locations: Barnes and Noble, Jitters, Borders Books and Music and C and M Used Books and Music.

[Home][Bio][The Sculptor][High Country][E-Mail][Performances][Reviews][Links]