Mick Hargreaves’ music has deep roots on Long Island. Just listening to a few of his tracks, notably “Hometown” and “Crashing Down,” you get a strong sense of just how a place can influence an artist. With the release of his latest CD, Best, Hargreaves explores the concepts surrounding the artistry of delivering solid rock tracks, while also playing with the notion of having substance behind expert guitar playing and powerful, emotional sound.
“Pete Mancini and I are featured performers as part of this great concert series in Patchogue and that’s sorta’ what’s kicking off our tour. We’ll be playing all over the Northeast, the mid-Atlantic region. We’ll be finishing up at Crossroads in Amagansett on April 27,” Hargreaves said, talking excitedly about
Hargreaves will also be hitting the Stephen Talkhouse on April 26. The Talkhouse is legendary for having acts that go on to be huge and for having current popular artists swing by to play a few songs for the crowd. The Talkhouse show isn’t with Pete Mancini, but with Hargreaves’ usual band, The King Guys. Butchers Blind, another local act, is also scheduled to make an appearance at the show.
This latest tour is something of a bare bones, grassroots effort for Hargreaves and Mancini. The basic premise is that the two men are throwing their equipment and instruments in a car and cruising around the Northeast. It’s a refreshing concept and works well with the kind of music the two play. “I’m very excited for the East End leg of the tour. We’ll be coming back from northern Virginia, Baltimore, those kinds of places, but once we’re back in New York and hitting the East End, I’ll have my entire band with me, so I’m excited. The final gig we’re playing is going to be recorded for broadcast on 88.3 on the East End.”
Hargreaves’ music isn’t all that dissimilar to Nick Lowe, the English singer-songwriter responsible for the college-rock anthem “Cruel To Be Kind.” The connection between Hargreaves and Lowe is obvious, and is perhaps best-described as “pub rock,” the kind of great, fun tunes you listen to while share with friends over a few beers. While preparing to interview Hargreaves, I found myself listening to his music with friends, swigging a few cold ones and chatting with my assembled chums over the nature of the music. We kept coming up with the following hodgepodge of terms to describe the tunes: melancholy, youthful, wistful, driving, calm.
“Like a lot of people, The Beatles and the Stones were hugely influential on me. Specifically, they were what I was touching on. The Beatles were like a window backwards for me, I wanted to know more about who influenced them and who they, in turn influenced,” Hargreaves said. “I wanted to get to the fundamental origins of all this rock and roll stuff, you know? Nick Lowe, like Paul McCartney, is a great pop songwriter who also happens to play bass. I started out on cello, then bass, then guitar. The fact that Lowe and McCartney played bass was a huge connection for me.”
Hargreaves is focused on touring right now, as well as producing. The tour has really given him a chance to put together his musical library onto one record after most of his music was out-of-print or unavailable. “Pete and I are trying to push our horizons out a bit and its fun. Two guys with guitars in a small car. We’re excited to play for fans who may not have seen us in a long time.”
Some of the lyrics to Hometown include the lines: “Take a ride in your home town—have a quick look around. Used to be such a loud place—now there’s hardly a sound. And the place was on fire—but the flames have gone cold. Is it really that way—or are you just getting old?” These are lyrics I’m sure many people can relate to the older they get. Having taken a ride around my home town, remaining friends with the guys I grew up with, Hargreaves’ words are bittersweet in that they perfectly encapsulate that feeling of growing and changing, while also holding onto the memories and love we shared in our youth.