Michael Braunfeld is, first and foremost, a storyteller. His songs capture the everyday triumphs and struggles of ordinary people. His characters – though trapped in the particular circumstances of their own lives – appeal to a universal audience. Michael has been garnering critical acclaim and industry recognition including a prestigious slot on the 2013 Emerging Artists Showcase at The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival – where he received honorable mentions in audience voting (one of the only solo performers to do so). In 2014, he was welcomed into the Writers’ Night Family at The Bluebird Cafe. And in 2016, he was named as a finalist in the Grassy Hill Kerrville New Folk Competition. From sold out listening rooms to festivals, Michael has been delighting old fans and winning over new audiences at every stop.
As an artist, Michael is that rare triple threat. His dynamic guitar style, trading off between percussive strumming and intricate finger picked melodies, has been compared to that of John Fahey. His powerful vocals have been likened to those of Bruce Springsteen. As a songwriter, Michael evokes the very best of Springsteen, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, John Prine and his hero, Bill Morrissey. Comparisons aside, Michael is a unique artist at the height of his craft. 25 years into his career, Michael is writing his best songs yet. And onstage, he is a commanding presence.
Michael recorded his debut album, Some Things Aren’t Worth Crying For when he was just 16 years old. Despite his youth, he was unafraid to tackle topical issues such as homelessness and the environment. When It All Comes Down and Steel City followed and these albums combined with his intense performances propelled Michael onto the stages of some of the most prestigious venues and festivals around. He continued performing and honing his craft, headlining on the coffeehouse circuit and opening for acts like Jonatha Brooke, Bill Morrissey, Bill Miller and Eric Andersen. And then, in 2001 … he walked away from it all.
In 2011, Michael was invited to perform at the 50th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival. From there, the calls from his fans (and arm twisting from his peers) for him to return to the stage never stopped. In 2013, he made the leap. Three years, two EPs, a slew of shows, thousands of miles and countless songs later, Michael has come full circle. It is fitting, therefore, that his current release should be called just that.
Full Circle was recorded live before a packed house at Burlap and Bean Coffee and captures the communion between artist and audience that has come to be the hallmark of a Michael Braunfeld show. The title is a clear reference to the circuitous musical path chosen by its author. It, and the album itself, leaves no doubt that Michael Braunfeld is back. The spotlight is trained on center stage on one man and his guitar. It is unadorned and it is stirring. Rich Warren, host of The Midnight Special on Chicago’s WFMT, selected the CD as one of “Rich’s Picks” twice in 2015.
Whether addressing topical issues or sharing personal stories that often leave his audiences feeling that he has somehow, in some way, invaded their privacy, Michael’s performances combine a powerful guitar style with a seemingly endless supply of urgency. And he has a pretty sneaky sense of humor too.