QUEER, TORONTO-BASED GUITARIST MIKE NAGODA IS OUTSIDE THE BOX ON NEW ALBUM
Genre-bending double-slide based release is set for January 14, 2022
Mike Nagoda is a queer and disabled blues and roots musician and independent recording artist based in Toronto. Born with Cerebral Palsy, Mike struggled to play guitar in a conventional manner until he discovered legendary Toronto Bluesman Brian Cober, who invented the art of double slide guitar in 1971. Nagoda eventually approached Brian to teach him this technique and Mr. Cober became Mike’s close friend and mentor until his passing in 2016. Nagoda is now proudly carrying on Mr. Cober’s legacy to a new generation with the double slide guitar in 2021 and beyond, marking the occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of Mr. Cober’s revolutionary invention. Mike Nagoda is the winner of the 2020 Toronto Blues Society Talent Search, as well as receiving an Honourable Mention for the 2019 Amy Louie Grossman’s Music Scholarship.
As a queer and disabled blues musician, Nagoda writes and performs with strength, pride and compassion, and Outside The Box feels like a homecoming. “For me, Outside The Box is all about celebrating what makes me different as both a person and a musician”, he says. “There are only a handful of out, proud, openly queer male performers in the blues scene today that I know of -- and I’m one of them! I don’t know how many of us talk about queer, same gender relationships among men in our lyrics. It’s just not something that’s done in blues. I really wanted to change that with this record, and finally start to give queer men a voice and visibility through telling my own story, and hopefully open the door for queer men to start telling our stories in blues.”
With ten remarkable tracks bending genre lines and breaking societal barriers, Nagoda’s sophomore release Outside The Box takes the listener on an epic aural journey, all born from his love of blues music. From the first track “He’s My Man”, an upbeat shuffle that is loud as it is proud, to “Kingdom of Heaven”, originally written about a post-apocalyptic United States but soon morphed into a track that is a warning against White Supremacy, Outside The Box tells stories that are political, personal and relevant to the struggles of so many in today’s world. The smokey jazz-tinged “O, Maximus!”, while it’s a fictional story set in ancient Rome, is also a think piece about queer oppression. In many parts of the world, what the song talks about - government oppression and destruction of queer relationships and the suicide that often results from it – still happens today.
The title track “Outside The Box” is one of the more challenging songs on the album. In his own words, Nagoda tells of its birth; “Lyrically, this tune is probably my most personal. When I was growing up, I used to be a devout Roman Catholic, and eventually somewhere down the line, I de-converted and realized I was an atheist. The song is about telling the Church and God, “Bye! I’m out of here!” and embracing my sexuality and identity, and embracing who I am, full-on. The full belted scream at the end of the final chorus is a scream of joy at finally finding my own freedom from years of shame and guilt and oppression, and embracing who I truly am.”
“Conquistador” is inspired by the music of the great Latin percussionist and bandleader Tito Puente and is a track that lets each musician shine and bring their individual influences in a wonderful tribute to Tito Puente’s music, and Latin music as a whole. The record ends with how it began: with a Blues shuffle about celebrating queerness. “We Got A Party” is “all about celebrating our various genders and sexualities as a community at Pride every year. It’s that embracing of queerness again, this time on a communal level.”
Produced by Chris Birkett (Buffy Sainte-Marie, Sinead O’Connor, and others), the songs on Outside The Box are expertly performed by Mike Nagoda and the Spectrum Blues Band with Mike Nagoda on Acoustic and Electric Double Slide Guitar, Hammond Organ and Vocals, Peter Johnston on Electric Guitar, Anthony D’Allessandro on Acoustic and Electric Piano, D’Arcy Cain on Bass Guitar and Jeremy Ronson on Drums, Woodblocks, Cowbell and Crotale. There are many special guests on the album as well, including Frank Cosentino, Nelson Sobral, Jesse Dangerously and The Mighty Rhino, Michael Keith, Liam Ward, and more.
Mike Nagoda now brings his brand of soulful, progressive queer electric blues and roots music to the Canadian and International scene, taking double slide guitar into the next fifty years and beyond, all while telling stories that so many have wanted to hear for so long, and now finally can.
RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 14, 2022
1. He’s My Man 2. Kingdom of Heaven 3. P.R.I.D.E. 4. Here To Stay 5. Busker’s Blues 6. O, Maximus! 7. Crumble And Fall 8. Outside The Box 9. Conquistador 10. We Got A Party