Michael Bernard Fitzgerald- or MBF as many call him- has been a staple Calgarian musician for many years now. His unique voice, active social media following and soulful and meaningful lyrics, give him the air of a young, twitter friendly James Taylor. He hasn't released a ton of music, but the stuff that he has, has garnered him two international tours, a full length LP and a rather ardent fan following (and yes, no need to ask, we are facebook friends). After seeing him perform at this years Stampede I decided to dig up an interview with Michael from the Ladywood archives that I think gives a unique glance into what the Canadian sweet heart is all about. Below are his latest releases- Follow and Firecracker. Follow, which is a very lovely and heartfelt tune, proves he has the chops to keep up with some of his Canadian counterparts like Serena Ryder, Lights, Roz Bell and the enviable Feist all of whom have been releasing a ton of amazing music lately, while Firecracker shows that he hasn't lost his MBF spark. Take a listen, take a read and enjoy a little MBF in your life.
All the Love
Interview from November 2011:
If the crowned prince of prairie plaid, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, has learned anything in his storied career, it is that he is strangely afraid of playing in front of tiny humans. Sitting down to discuss his burgeoning music career, with a new album in the works and a ten-city tour kicking off at the beginning of February, MBF is initiating the new decade in a totally tubular fashion. MBF is currently coming off of a tour across Canada, sharing playbills with artists Roz Bell, Jully Black, Lights, The Wallflowers, Stars, and Hedley and is riding high on the critical acclaim for his 2009 album, The MBF Love LP. With that and his innate ability to put into words exactly what every angst-ridden university student is feeling about their love life, thriving or failing, MBF has become a staple Canadian indie pop act to watch. His shimmering acoustic abilities and sumptuous melodies have had many a well-heeled hipster tapping their feet in time with his optimistically sincere, pop-infused music.
With a sound that is both thoughtful and mellow, MBF's music makes you want to lay on your bedroom floor, snap on some clamshell headphones and dream of sharing a strawberry milkshake with your first love. Even the smallest amount of online searching will pull up a glut of well-styled photographs and music videos of the dark haired hipster.
Despite being an outstanding vocalist and guitarist, he still humbly admits to being terrified when playing in front of children. “I played in front of some elementary school kids and that was hard, they just get disinterested like that," he says, with a poignant snap of his fingers. "It was scary." Moving beyond the terrifyingly lukewarm reception he received at the hands of a flock of restless school children, MBF carried onwards and upwards and was able to perform many a lively show in 2010, at times incorporating dancers, multiple drummers and up to 100 choir members on stage to help produce the “big sound” he was after. He says simply, “I want to play more big shows like that," a phrase extolling both the easy beauty of the love MBF shares for music and his desire to continue to put on shows people like to watch.
MBF is extremely generous when it comes to sharing the stage: “I’ve had the pleasure to play with really great players and I like to support whoever I can in the local area, support the local talent," he explains. Some of the great local talent he is speaking of includes David Vertesi, Steph McPherson, Mike Edel and Paperboy. While this upcoming tour will not be staged with the same magnitude as some of his previous performances, being able to travel around the country and play with some great local talent like Calm Asa Coma and Calvin Locke has MBF just as pumped to perform again.
He has also added a new, and frankly genius, element to a few of the dates on his western Canada tour: the “Heavy Chevy." This means MBF will be playing an exclusive acoustic set inside of his rigged up van before select performances for a lucky thirteen ticket holders. Coming up with the concept was easy: “When I did this last tour with Lights, we played in a lot of bars, and most of her fans were, like, two years younger than me and I wanted to be able to have everybody come to my shows. All my Calgary shows at Mac Hall and the Jack (Singer Concert Hall) were all ages, so we came up with the idea for the ‘Heavy Chevy’ shows. We sell tickets just like any other show, but only thirteen of them. We have this van with big benches and a PA at one end and I sit there in the front and just play a acoustic set."
With a career trajectory mimicking an early James Taylor or Neil Young, or a cuter sounding Paul Simon, from whom MBF draws considerable inspiration, he has given himself large ambitions. He recently acquired the services of the Toronto-based public relations firm, Freshly Pressed PR, who represent the likes of Feist, K-os, and Jamie Lidell, all decidedly successful Canadian acts.
“Julie (Booth, his publicist) has been really great at helping me get more established out east,” he says, something he hopes the second half of his eastern Canada tour will also accomplish. His attempt to expand his influence into eastern Canada and beyond is nicely complimented by his online social media presence. MBF has even employed a "Twitter bot" to help inform his fans and followers of any upcoming shows or any other pertinent information regarding this budding musician. The hilariously witty tweets, however, can be fully credited to MBF himself. In the age of an ever increasingly technologically driven society, MBF is well aware of the importance social media plays on his success. His website links both his Facebook and MySpace pages, both of which boast personal message from the musician responding to various comments from fans.
MBF is, as of yet, an unfinished package, a package wrapped in perfectly styled moccasins and skinnies. While we know his charisma and sweetly soulful voice have propelled him this far, we wait with bated breath for what he has in store for us next. Already proven himself as an on-stage ingénue, the album in the pipelines is still just that, in the pipelines. With The MBF Love LP released in June of 2009, though, it has been a long while since we’ve heard anything from him, which makes his latest release Follow a welcome addition to his repository.
A quick prod into what the state of his new material is in reveals an album in the works, something that MBF admits he is a little nervous about. A second gentle prod into what the album will be like reveals a reserved artist, unsure but not unconfident about his musical stylings. MBF is, however, quite willing to discuss his changing and evolving sound and how on this upcoming album he is looking to incorporate some different and unexpected elements into some of the tunes. It looks like MBF is leaning towards incorporating a edgier sound into his music, a la the early Motown-esque stylings of Bruce Springsteen. His at times saccharine sounding tunes could use a bit more variety and his new music promises to deliver just that: some bigger sounding, rock/pop influenced work. We can all agree that whatever 2011 will bring for MBF it will surely be joyful.
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