Mike Kramer – Guitar

Mike Kramer – Guitar

Like a lot of guys coming of age in the late sixties and early seventies, I was drawn to the idea of playing lead guitar in a rock band.

In the pursuit of learning my instrument I studied classical guitar and soon found myself playing with our local community college jazz band in Prescott, AZ, but my fondest memories are of jamming for hours in the basement with my brother playing bass – sometimes just the two of us and often with the many musicians that would form our early bands.

The goal of supporting myself with music drove a variety of projects – after-hours R&B gigs in Watts, dance bands in Van Nuys, jazz sessions in Phoenix and a traveling top-40 act which took me to Japan. Eventually I found myself  in Phoenix playing blues with Big Pete Pearson. Often playing 20 plus nights consecutively, our shows included opening for John Lee Hooker New Year’s Eve ’86 and two extensive tours throughout Mexico as part of the Arizona Arts Commission.

What I learned through all this is that what I really missed was jamming in the basement with my brother. I stopped playing and I sold my equipment. I eventually packed up and moved to Boulder with a cheap Telecaster my dad gave me.

In essence I started over – just me by myself jamming on my electric guitar without an amplifier. I explored notes and chords making choices based solely on the idea of whether they sounded good to me or not. Of course, my influences in rock, jazz and blues were coming through.

A snowstorm in the mountains led to a serendipitous encounter with a drummer and an invitation to a series of absolutely fantastic jam sessions in Boulder. From those sessions, various projects emerged – all based on the idea of expression. This is where I met Spencer King and eventually Scott Allen – and we formed the Bilbao Jazz Trio.

The Bilbao Jazz Trio really is a jam band. When I play with Scott and Spencer, I think in terms of shapes, colors and textures – and I’m reminded of those basement sessions with my brother.

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