Mike Dunn is a jack of all trades by necessity. I know him best as a musician and a songwriter, but depending on your place in the world and your interactions with Mike, you might know him as a videographer, photographer, graphic designer, professor, tour manager, or event planner.
Mike put his first album, 2007’s “Edge of America” EP when he was 24. Fresh out of the University of Central Florida with a degree in philosophy, Mike drilled down into the road-warrior life of a touring artist with his band the Kings of New England. Most folks who’ve been there will tell you that playing in a band is not a good way (read: is a bad way) to make a living, so longevity in that arena generally comes from acceptance of functional homelessness or a willingness to get creative. Upon recognizing that he was giving up a significant portion of the money the band was earning and of the artistic vibe he was attempting to create by farming out content creation to others, Mike realized he could control the narrative and put his a little more gas in his tank by taking over that creation.
With a bootlegged copy of photoshop, Mike learned to mimic the 40’s and 50’s utilitarian graphic style that created beautiful works of art out of potentially deadly pieces of machinery. These days, a Mike Dunn design or photograph is as easily recognized as his gravelly Springsteen-influenced Americana.
Mike is still making really cool music. His last record, “Hard Luck Soft Rock” came out in 2015 and has been a steady presence on my record player since. You can also find him traveling the country with Orlando’s Standard Motorcycle Co. shooting videos and photos for the likes of bulwark American brands like Harley Davidson.
This year, Mike is throwing the 3rd version of what began as a one-night showcase for the vibrant songwriter scene in Central Florida. The 2018 version of Folk Yeah! will spill over into a second day and feature artists and musicians from all over the country. In addition to giving a stage to some of the country’s most interesting artists and writers, Mike’s Rust & Rebel Media Company will provide photography and videography free of charge to Folk Yeah! Participants as a way of giving back to the DIY community that embodies the Pioneer Spirit it takes to forge ahead into new creative ground.
So if you’re in Orlando this Thanksgiving, get down to Will’s Pub and find your new favorite band.
Until next time
- John, Founder of IGWM
Pioneer Selects: Mike Dunn
Currently Reading: I've been going through the collections of my favorite photographers, Mark Seliger, William Albert Allard, Annie Leibovitz, Danny Clinch, Dan White and Richard Avedon. They're huge fancy coffee table books and they're way too expensive but sometimes you can find a decent used deal.Annie Leibovitz "At Work" is my current favorite.
Currently Listening to: I've been jamming "Pennied Days" by Night Moves pretty steadily all year. It's like an alternate universe where Stevie Nicks was a dude and had a bunch of guitar pedals, which is rad.
Current Inspiration: Comedy. Anything that makes me laugh. I've watched the John Mulaney "Kid Gorgeous" special multiple times this year and I thought it was a meticulously crafted and performed piece. Neil Brennan's "Three Mics" was equally impressive in a whole other way as well. The maker "hustle" mentality can get pretty tiring. I love people that take what they do really seriously but don't take themselves seriously at all.
Favorite IGWM product: The "Emergency Candle" in a tin can is pretty genius and it looks great on my nightstand.