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  1. Just Breathe

From the recording Travelin Man

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"Singer-songwriter Mike McKenna Jr. has a vocal grit and inflection and lyrical sensibility that brings a little bit of Nashville to Montreal, not to mention a down-beatin' roots rock band to back him up, but the swagger of the opening track of his debut EP is not the only speed McKenna runs at."— J Moss, The Modern Folk Music of America

Mike McKenna Jr is a soulful and often haunting balladeer, with a unique grit and power in his voice, a folky rhythm to his guitar playing, and an authenticity of his stories that has captivated listeners in his native Maritimes and around the North American folk community.

Mike draws inspiration for his music from his native Cape Breton, a region known as much for its rugged and picturesque landscape as for its rich cultural legacy that includes 500-years of colonial history and the accumulated oral traditions of Celtic, Mi'kmaq, and Acadian storytelling. The nostalgia of the Cape Breton countryside can be heard in Take Me Home, the opening track of Mike’s latest album Travelin Man, and in the oil-workers ballad, Die in the West -- songs that idealize the cherished landscapes of home.

With a Nova Scotian mother and a father from Boston, Mike was significantly influenced by two working class cultures -- his blue collar hometown in industrial Cape Breton, and his immigrant Irish-American roots in Massachusetts. The strong historical relationship between Nova Scotia and New England is evident in Mike’s music; his raspy, warm voice is reminiscent of a folky, Sweet Baby James era James Taylor, or the power of Ray Lamontagne; but his tales of tragic sea voyages and lost lovers are a throwback to the nautical-themed traditional songs of Canadians like Stan Rogers and Gordon Lightfoot.

Currently, Mike calls the Plateau neighbourhood of Montreal home, a district of bustling cafes and antiques shops, artists and eclectics. Montreal’s graffiti-covered streets provide a perfect backdrop for writing new music. Performing residencies at the Mile End acoustic staple Cafe Depanneur, and at Canada's oldest coffeehouse, The Yellow Door, Mike is in touch with the local and vibrant folk community of the city, and has twice sang on the stages of the Montreal Folk Festival on the Lachine Canal. He currently performs with KickDrum MTL, a relatively new organization that's been promoting intimate small-venue concerts with performances by many of the most talented singer-songwriters in Montreal.

Lyrics

Well time to time I found, that the steppin stones are meant to be
No matter how many hills I climb, tt never made all sense to me

'Cause life is a hustle, and the whole world ain't gonna leave you alone
So sit back in control of your mind your soul and just breathe
I said sit back in control of your mind your soul and just breathe

A patient lovers arms, it's the only place that keeps me strong
No matter times I fall, with your love I can't go wrong

'Cause life is a hustle, and the whole world ain't gonna leave you alone
So sit back in control of your mind your soul and just breathe
I said sit back in control of my mind my soul and just breathe
So sit back in control of your mind your soul and just breathe
Said sit back in control of my mind my soul and just breathe