Biography


Mike Marshall is one of the world’s most accomplished and versatile string instrumentalists in American today. A master on mandolin, guitar, mandocello and violin, he has created some of the most adventurous instrumental music for over 35 years. His concert tours that have taken him around the globe.

Whether playing bluegrass with Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck or Chris Thile, Brazilian choro music with Hamilton de Holanda or Baroque classical with German mandolinist Caterina Lichenberg, Mike is able to swing gracefully between all of these musical styles with a unique blend of virtuosity, depth and musical integrity that is rare in the cross cultural musical world of today.

Mike is currently presiding over the ‘School of Mandolin through he Artistworks company where he teaches hundreds of players from around the world using the new Video Exchange Learning system.

His most recent CD is called ‘Big Trio’ with two of the young lions of instrumental music in American, Alex Hargreaves (violin w/Sarah Jaroz) and Paul Kowert (bass w/Punch Brothers).

“All three players in this group are virtuosos… showing no limitations. This is high caliber music from musicians at their peak.”
-Mandolin Magazine.

In early 2010 a project with German classical mandolin virtuoso Caterina Lichtenberg was realeased on Mike’s own label Adventure Music. She is the Professor of mandolin at the Music Conservatory in Cologne, Germany. The two have been touring throughout Europe and the U.S since 2008.

A look at Mike’s calendar and you will find him on concert tours with everyone from the Swedish group Vasen, Bassist Edgar Meyer, fellow andolinist Chris Thile, the Grammy winning jazz ensemble The Turtle Island String Quartet or with his progressive bluegrass group Psychograss with Darol Anger, Tony Trischka, Todd Phillips and David Grier.

Mike grew up in Central Florida, where he cut his teeth on traditional American music. His interest in many musicals styles however eventually led him to the San Francisco Bay Area to join the original David Grisman Quintet in 1978 at age 19. This band toured and recorded with the legendary jazz violinist Stephan Grappelli, Mark O’Connor and guitarist Tony Rice. They performed on the Johnny Carson Show that same year and toured Europe and Japan and helped set a new standard for American stringband music.

Since then, Mike has continued pushing the boundaries of acoustic music and can be heard on hundreds of recordings as a composer, featured artist, sideman and producer.

During the 1980s, Mike recorded for the Windham Hill label with his group The Montreux Band and also formed the classical ensemble, The Modern Mandolin Quartet. This group redefined the mandolin family in a classical music setting with many newly created works for this format and recorded 4 CDs during it’s tenure.

In 1995, Mike began his love affair with the music of Brazil. After a visit there, he embarked on an in-depth study of the roots of Brazilian popular music, Choro. This obsession has led to recordings and concerts with some of Brazil’s finest musicians, including Hamilton de Holanda, Danilo Brito, Jovino Santos Neto and Hermeto Pascoal. His group Choro Famoso has helped spearhead a wave in the U.S. for this infectious style. In 1999 Mike also created his own label, Adventure Music which has released over 30 CDs to date of the music of Brazil.

Mike’s association with bassist Edgar Meyer led to 2 CDs for the Sony Classical label. One with long time friend Bela Fleck the other with violinist Joshua Bell and mandolinist Sam Bush, Each were nominated for GRAMMY awards and in 1999 the group played on the Grammy award TV show.

Mike has always had an interest in helping young artists and has over 2 dozen CD productions to his credit including The Hot Buttered Rum Band, Cadillac Sky, Laurie Lewis, Alison Brown, Tony Furtado and George Brooks.

As he does so engagingly in his music, Mike also applies his artistic aesthetic to his principal hobby: cooking. Already known as one of the best chefs amongst his musical pals, he has been trading guitar lessons for cooking lessons with Michael Peternell: head chef at Berkeley’s famed Chez Panise Restaurant. He’s also been spotted there slicing carrots and peeling onions ‘back stage’!

As a teacher, Mike founded a one week mandolin camp for in 2002 with his long time friend David Grisman. The Mandolin Symposium takes place the last week of June at U.C. Santa Cruz with over 150 mandolinists and 10 of the greatest players/teachers in the world.

If you hear mandolin on NPR’s ‘Car Talk’ radio show opening music, that’s Mike along with Earl Scruggs, David Grisman and Tony Rice. In addition Mike composed and recorded the theme music for the San Francisco based radio program ‘Forum’ heard daily on KQED radio.