It’s funny – I remember a time in my life when if someone mentioned reggae I’d only be able to think of Bob Marley. I didn’t know any other reggae artists, and hadn’t become acquainted with the reggae-rock explosion that was happening all around me.
It amuses me to think of this now that I’ve become close with so many bands in the genre, each with their completely own, distinct sound and feel. Someone from the outside might not understand the difference between Fortunate Youth and SOJA, but you or me could tell them apart in a heartbeat.
One artist that intrigued me from the moment I met him was Mike Pinto. When I came to San Diego years ago he was already a legend on the scene. Myself and a bunch of others who moved to Socal from different areas of the country looked up to him as the guy who made it. He was the original – he went from playing acoustic coffee house gigs in Philly to one of the reggae rock meccas of the world, and proved he could write songs with the best of them.
Mike Pinto stuck out because his style of songwriting and playing was unique. He definitely brings some reggae and ska vibes, but often laces them with gritty, poetic, folk-style storytelling. It’s not an accident that people call him “The Storyteller”.
When Mike sings, you can feel Philadelphia in his soul and Socal in his vibe. It’s a sound that instantly drew me in and hooked me, while further blurring the ever-graying lines of the greater reggae genre. He’s not afraid to talk about the darker shades of life, and portray them with whatever music fits best. Ultimately, Mike Pinto is a songwriter who’s not concerned with the limiting confines of genre, but with the endless openness of human feeling and expression.
From the days I first met Mike at a house party in Ocean Beach, to seeing him with his amazing new album and success as an artist, I’ve always been proud to call him a friend. His music consistently brings me to new places, and his dedication to the craft is inspiring. As many of you know, I love seeing people grow as artists, and Mike’s new album “Hotel Rendezvous” is a beautiful showcase of this.
Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the album here, and check his CD release party at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach on July 14th! I hope you enjoy!
Thank you Mike for the consistently good vibes over the years, here’s to many more my friend! Also, big ups to Jimmy Ovadia on the album artwork, love it!
Brendan and the Hill Kid Family