MiZ is a soulful, rock-Americana band from central Pennsylvania whose music is influenced primarily by of Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams and The Cardinals, The Black Crowes, Ray LaMontagne, The Allman Brothers and Tony Rice. The band’s sound is directly impacted by the coal mining region of northeast Pennsylvania and the songs evoke the rustic tones and imagery you would expect from the region and it’s cultural heritage. The singer / songwriter / guitarist Mike Mizwinski gives name to the band and it is his heart and soul– poured into the words and his guitar– that drives it all forward, bouncing between the living memory of his childhood in the middle of nowhere PA and the New York City music scene that has become his second home.
From an early age, Mike was drawn to the guitar– thanks in no small way to his parents’ love of music and their immersion in the local music community– and there is even a photo of Mike at two years of age holding a Harmony guitar while sitting on his father’s lap. By the age of seven, Mike was sitting in with the country bluegrass band Old Friends – a northeast Pennsylvania group that included Mike’s aunt and uncle – at festival events in front of 2,000+ person crowds, and by his early teens, Mike was leading a jam band power trio called The Appalachian Barn House Band. However, within three months of moving to Florida to pursue a music degree, Mike was living the cliche of the tortured artist, failing out of school, struggling with drug abuse and spiraling into the darkest period of his life. He moved back North to York, PA, entered a recovery house and began to write the honest, reflective original songs that have– years later– become MiZ fan favorites including “Wink”, “Was a Time”, “Dopesick Blues”, and “Staring into the Sun”. While struggling to get clean he began playing every possible open mic he could find, and after talent buyers saw him play live, the paid gigs started to come in and he put together some bands of local players.
The day after one of these bands played a support slot for jazz-jam-fusion group Gongzilla at a show in Wilkes-Barre, PA, Mike got a call asking him to join Gongzilla as the second guitarist on their upcoming national tour. He toured with Gongzilla for the next 2+ years, traveling everywhere from Vermont to Georgia to LA, opening for and jamming with the likes of Umphrey’s McGee, members of Zappa’s band, Particle, and members of moe., gaining a reputation as a seriously nasty guitar shredder and all the while still writing and working on his originals. As a guitarist he was definitely making his mark, but nobody realized what a singer-songwriter they had in their midst. In 2009, Gongzilla decided to take a hiatus, and Mike knew that this was his chance to get out there with his own original band, and he was ready.
Since debuting on the scene in 2009, MiZ has supported national acts such as The Derek Trucks Band, Blues Traveler, Shawn Colvin, Leon Russell, Railroad Earth, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, and many more. Still a jaw-dropping guitarist, MiZ’s focus is more on the songs and the melody, the words and the connection to the fans. “I’m just hoping to create and perform music that has depth, music that really means something to someone, music that inspires people, and music that helps promote a higher level of consciousness,” says Mike. “You wouldn’t believe some of the emails I’ve gotten from fans,” he explains. “People have told me that they related deeply to my music and that it helped them through extremely difficult times. And after struggling for so many years to get to this moment, I owe it to myself to promote this positive energy.” For a guy who went through his own issues with substances and who spent so long trying to find his own voice, the inspiration he derives from this kind of fan response constantly re-ignities his passion for his music, and it shows when he and the band take the stage.