Ask around the local music scene about Michael Massimo and you might hear the following: “a songwriter’s songwriter”, “dude can be intense sometimes”, “a one-man rock opera” and “Who is Michael Massimo?”. The truth is a fluid mixture of all those things.
Raised on folk-rock in the ‘70s, Massimo developed a similar singer/songwriter style and honed it throughout high school. He won a statewide talent show. He went to college where an unfortunate housing interpretation of “similar interests” paired two fellow guitarists: a folkie and a metal enthusiast. To be fair, James Taylor shared stereo time with James Hetfield which scared the folkie. But some of that energy was getting through. He made a note of the adrenaline it produced. Years later his own band would illicit the same from him.
Meanwhile the folkie was creating his own alternative spin on songs and songwriting. An EP (Perspective) was then released on cassette (!) in ‘94, later a solo acoustic live album in ’96 (Live In NYC) followed by a more alternative studio album which demonstrated even more of a growing rock influence (Precious Seconds) in ’98. There was relentless gigging, some encouraging radio support, and Massimo was becoming known for his style: the ability to combine complex rhythms with hook-laden melodies and insightful lyrics through a powerful voice backed by wide-ranging guitar voicings and a heavy right hand.
By the turn of the century, Massimo was saying things louder than one guitar could support. So a self-titled 4 piece rock outfit was formed to fully realize the sound he imagined: the careful lyric songcraft of a troubadour supported by the epic drama a rock band could bring - well-crafted, lyric driven anthems. Many shows followed in the NYC tri-state area. Many. Finally, in 2004 Massimo released an EP that accurately demonstrated the group’s sound as well as a career retrospective. Though critically acclaimed, not enough momentum was generated by those albums to make a group economically viable and Massimo returned to being a solo act as many changes were taking place to how music was being created and consumed. Then an open-ended sort of self-imposed hiatus. Songs still being written, occasionally performed. It might have quietly faded out here. But it didn’t. It couldn’t.
And it hasn’t. Now there is an all new website, a whole album full of new songs to share and a new webcast to hear new music by guest performers as well. What isn’t new is the attitude, only rededicated. It's Massimo’s passion as a songwriter and performer that continues to keep him going after over 3 decades.
“His insistent, emotional vocals are of the caliber of the defining acoustic artists from a generation earlier. Michael’s talent is real and his songs are convincingly heartfelt.”
“An energetic performer...great percussive playing, fine chord changes and interesting
melodies. Massimo has a real future as a performing artist and songwriter.”
“Michael’s music stood out right away as something original, even experimental, compared to many
Jersey bands. The melodies and lyrics were thoughtful and positive, unlike most of the cookie-cutter acts
on the radio today.”
“Massimo’s music is more epic and grandiose than your average pop song. He seeks to forge new
musical territory by combining complex chords and progressions underneath his often spiritual lyrics.”
"Melodies that rank with the best ever played on radio."
"...sophisticated acoustic technique, juxtaposing rich tonal variations, bell-like harmonies, and delicate arpeggios with ecstatic chordal explorations and passionate singing."