Band of the Week: Mike Uva

Band of the Week: Mike Uva
Photo by courtesy of Mike Uva

MEET THE BAND: Mike Allan (bass), Nick Cross (guitar), Mike Lyford (piano, organ, backing vocals), Dan Price (drums), Stelianos Simantiris (guitar), Mike Uva (guitar, vocals)

THE GUY FROM VERMONT: Uva grew up in Syracuse where he listened to what he describes as the "usual stuff" — classic rock you hear on the radio. He learned how to play guitar, began playing with friends in college and continued to play after college. He wrote what he calls "bad songs." He was living in Vermont after college and he and his bandmates at the time wanted to find "a more metropolitan area." "I agreed to move here sight unseen in the mid-'90s," says Uva. "It's funny because there were six of us, and we were known as the Vermont people for a while." He immediately started playing shows at venues like the now-shuttered Speak in Tongues.

A LONG TIME COMING: Lights Coming Up, Uva's new album, represents his first release in a few years. "I tend to wait a while to accumulate things to write about, and I probably wait too long," Uva admits when asked about the gap between albums. When he had some songs together, he went to the local Primitive Earth studio. "We recorded over three days and did a few overdubs. It came together quickly."

ABOUT A DOG: Uva's family adopted a dog a few years ago, and he ended up with the "not-terrible task" of walking her twice a day. Since then, he says he's become more aware of the passing of days and nights. "That ended up being an undercurrent in the record," he says. "During winter, I think about warm days and sleeping on the sidewalk. That felt like a good place for the record to start, the title track. These characters are a bit down on their luck, sometimes they lie or steal, or they stay up too late and don't recognize the person they were with the night before. They are bewildered, or bored, trying to regain their footing each new day they're given."

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR HIM: The album shows off Uva's understated songwriting abilities. One highlight, the Dylan-like "Waco," has been in the works for years. "I started writing that song years ago but kept putting it aside," says Uva. "Last year, it came together in time for the 25th anniversary of that event. The song is less about a specific history than remembering a time and place in your life and drawing a line from there to the world you're in now. The recording started off as this solo guitar thing, but we added to it, and it went beyond my expectations." Uva says he aims to "stay on track" and record and perform on a more regular basis.


WHERE YOU CAN SEE HIM: Mike Uva performs with Sleepykid and Istvan Medgyesi at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 15, at the Beachland Tavern.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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