“Tired of these airports, ain’t got nothing to eat;
Tired of relieving myself, looking at another man’s feet.”
– From Mighty Mike Schermer’s song “Tired of Travelin’ ”
Epiphanies sometimes occur at the strangest times.
A pandemic led to the most peculiar period of many lives and careers, especially for musicians, who couldn’t perform for the better part of two years. Even recording was a challenge.
Mighty Mike Schermer’s eighth solo album, “Just Getting Good,” is the second he’s co-produced with Kid Andersen at Greaseland Studios in San Jose. But it has a different flavor from 2019’s acclaimed “Bad Tattoo.”
“I look back on this album and think, what a unique time, the way those songs came together,” he said. “Because every other album I’ve done, I have 12 songs or at least 10 songs ready to go. We go in there and knock them out in three or four days.
“This one, I was writing songs, and any time it sort of felt safe to do so, we’d go down to Greaseland. Sometimes we were fully masked. Other times we were each in separate rooms within the studio. Then once we got vaccinated, we felt good about staying in the same room together. It really kind of came together like two or three songs at a time.”
There are different styles throughout, such as calypso on the humorous “The Hungry Dog,” doo-wop on “This Is Where My Love Is,” and Tex-Mex on “It’s Not Me, It’s You.”
Concerned there was no common theme, Schermer wanted “something to ties this back to the blues, and the beauty of my band is they knew just what I was talking about.” “Tired of Travelin’ ” was busted out quickly and naturally and is an obvious tribute to “The Master of the Telecaster.”
“Albert Collins changed my life,” Schermer said, reminiscing about seeing him perform in his college town Santa Cruz. “The first note that guy hit, it was over for me. Anything else about what I was going to do the rest of my life, forget it. That door slammed behind me. Another one opened up in front of me. The next morning, I was literally standing at the door of a music store with money in my hand ready to buy a Telecaster.”
Collins guitar tone is as distinguishable as that of John Coltrane’s saxophone or Thelonious Monk’s piano. He used open F minor tuning and a capo way up the neck. Schermer emulates Collins’ stinging notes in his own way, and in standard tuning.
“He told me, people learn other players’ licks, that’s great to do but always try to do it your own way,” Schermer said. “When Albert Collins would play a song like ‘Stormy Monday,’ he would play it like Albert Collins. But he would say, it’s a T-Bone Walker song. He said, ‘You should listen to T-Bone Walker,’ so I did. The next time I saw Albert, I said, ‘You don’t sound anything like T-Bone Walker.’ He said, ‘That’s not the point. We all listened to T-Bone Walker when we were coming up and then we all did our own thing with that.’ ”
Schermer’s primary session players were bassist Steve Ehrmann, keyboardist Tony Stead and drummer Paul Revelli. However, there were many more who contributed to the album, including multi-instrumentalist Anderson, saxophonist Terry Hanck and famed bass player Jerry Jemmott.
The clear takeaways from the record are that Schermer had fun during the sessions and he is head-over-heels in love with Kimberly Pickens, aka “Ms. Kimmy.”
Early in the pandemic, Schermer and Ms. Kimmy wrote songs and posted videos. Many of those songs made it onto “Just Gettin’ Good.” And Ms. Kimmy sings on four of them, including a vintage rock ‘n’ roll tune, “Kimmy Kimmy, Gimmee Gimmee.” “Tired of Travelin’ ” concludes with a funny dialogue between the two.
The myriad styles on “Just Gettin’ Good” are connected with the flavor of Mighty Mike’s personality. On or off the stage, he’s the same down-to-earth guy. This record is cast in a similar mold as congenial artists Elvin Bishop, Delbert McClinton and, of course, Albert Collins. Schermer is a friendly bluesman, a clever songwriter and a skilled guitarist. His new album is great.
Mighty Mike Schermer’s album release performance with his local band — Cliff Porter, Chris Landrum, Joe McKenna and guest Warren Charles Jones – will be held at Cypress Reno on Friday, June 10.
Mighty Mike Schermer
‘Just Getting’ Good’
Release: June 10, 2022
Label: Little Village
Album release show: 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 10 TICKET LINK