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Mike Aiken - Hula Girl Highway
Review By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist
8/12/08

Living on this tour bus with a hard working band
Sometimes life on the road just gets out of hand.
I need to sail to the islands take a holiday
It’s time to find new tunes and bring them back to play
I’ve got to…Put a little Country in her rock n’ roll
Put a little Jagger in her George Jones
Fire up the horses she’s ready to go
Like a storm out at sea a little out of control.”

When Mike Aiken needs musical inspiration, he doesn’t have to go far. There’s no struggling writer’s loft for him; there’s no pacing the floor, wringing his hands in desperation; there’s no fatigue or struggle; all he need do is throw an anchor overboard and point his 42-foot cutter towards the deeper blue, and, like Jimmy Buffett, changes in latitude bring changes in attitude. But while this salty seadog may have the advantages of living the deck board life, his music is a shared passage.

Aiken is soon to release his fourth album, Hula Girl Highway. The sea-faring troubadour once again serves a generous blend of music made for long glasses with longer straws and shady hammocks. Aiken, reviewed here in 2007 as a Waitin’ in the Wings hopeful, is an easy- on-the-ear singer with a writing flair easily capturing a countrified mood that relates well to sea and sun. And so it should – the inspiration is just outside his door!

The long-time sailor, introduced at eight to the joys of salt and sea by a family member, is as capable of singing and writing as he is at rigging canvas and dropping anchors, having sailed extensively from his Norfolk, Virginia harbor.

With music as his major passion, the other two being the adventure of the high seas and actual sailing, Aiken is firmly planted with this album, with it’s roots and Americana leanings, all etched with a hint of rock.

The opening cut defines the mix. “Jagger and Jones” is a compass point telling that the best music has elements in both rock and country camps. And Aiken, again surrounded with a tight entourage including steel, harmonica, Dobro, washboard and drums and guitars, has the blend fine-tuned. There’s the easy restrain of “Love You Tonight”; there’s the artistry of story and music as played out on “This Here Mandolin”; the toe-tapping energy of Guy Clark’s “Blowin’ Like A Bandit”, a warning tale of boats and rough seas; and there’s the rock-tinged and harmony-fused tale of goodbye honesty,” Down In Daytona”. For a subtle change of tone and tempo, the jazzy “Talk To Your Daughter” is a pleasing treasure to find.

Chart a course. Set sail. The album is out on Aspirion/Northwest Records.


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