These days it’s hard to do something new with an acoustic guitar, but that’s what Michael Jordan is all about. Combining alternate tunings with tapping techniques and percussion on the body of the guitar, while placing the instrument flat wise across his lap, Michael creates sounds that defy the formal approach of playing the acoustic. His use of haunting harmonics and his unique voice coupled with reflective heady lyrics build a wall of sound like no other. Often his performance leads to questions from the audience such as - “Is that just a normal six string acoustic guitar? Is there something special on his fingers? Where’s the loop station?”
During a performance, Michael will quite often switch between lap style and formal positioning of the guitar, providing a dynamic wide-ranging experience for viewers. These songs span from blissfully beautiful to maniacal rants to catchy hooks; and whether lap style or formal positioned, all are cerebral and contagious.
Michael received his first guitar on his twelfth birthday in Ophelia, Virginia., where he was raised in the country fishing and reading and tromping through the woods. These early years were very influential to the organic nature that was to become a crucial element in his music. When asked of his influences Michael says: “Early on I loved Kirk Hammett then Stevie Ray Vaughn,” (whom he keeps a picture of in his guitar to this day), “then Jimi, however I believe influences are everywhere, in the drip of the faucet or wail of the train in the distance. These natural soundscapes are what surrounded me and moved me when I was young and continue to be my largest source of inspiration. It’s weird, I don’t play like my influences, I don’t even cover many of their songs, rather I learned how to love and play from my heart from them. I wonder what the difference between influence and inspiration is? These days I’m very inspired by Michael Hedges, Eric Mongraine, Bjork, Tool, Rage and John Gomm, not to mention Malcombe Holcombe. And always, always the old bluesmen, all of them. Oh yeah, Tesla coils and cello’s as well.”
When Michael travels cross-country on tour, he will normally street perform the entire way, often going out of the way and tacking on a few extra days just to try out a busking hub. Michael says of street performing: “Street performing is an art all its own and it or I have gone through an evolution since I began a few years ago. It’s all very Zen and kinda out there for me now. Music is my greatest teacher, and street performing is like sitting down and meditating with my teacher, who teaches love and compassion and no fear of another or oneself. I pick a tuning and play from my heart and try to resonate the message of love and fearlessness that I must feel in order to truly lose myself in my music. This can be very easy and difficult at all times, because there is always something to learn, some obstacle to become aware of. If it is cold and snowing outside can you play yourself warm and sound like the snow? If no one is tipping then how does one still feel confident enough to continue playing without fear or self-consciousness? If the crowd is huge and your selling cd’s and everyone is cheering how do you keep the same heart rate as when drinking morning tea or when no one was tipping? These are the things I ponder while playing pretty much always, whether during a show or busking or back porch jamming. Reality, the ever-consistent present moment, this is the medium through which we create art. Everything else is a photograph ”
If you get a chance to see Michael Jordan you should definitely do so, he’ll be glad you’re there, and you’ll most likely see and hear something you’ve never seen before. Whether he’s street performing or playing a big stage be prepared to be amazed, shocked, uneasy and hugged at the same time.