“Firecracker Jazz Band helped the crowd revisit the days when Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong pimped both sound and hookers. Joyous in every way, the sextet wowed the small crowd with technical chops and humorous banter. Mike Gray went on drumming sprees that left the crowd’s mouths collectively agape.”
– Earful: Music Blog (by Hunter Pope)
MIKE GRAY – talented, creative and energetic drummer – He drives the rhythm with an enthusiasm and ability that doesn’t quit until everyone’s moving.
At age 8, Mike’s parents bought him a snare drum so he could join the school band. At 11, with the encouragement of musician stepfather, Warren Frank, they bought him a full drum kit for Christmas. He has been a professional recording, gigging and touring drummer for the past 8 yrs.
In 2004, in the midst of his early professional experience playing and recording albums with various local bands in Baltimore, Mike got the call from his pianist brother, Reese Gray (Squirrel Nut Zippers, Asylum Street Spankers) to come down to Asheville, NC to audition for the Firecracker Jazz Band. Having never played their music before, he learned the material on the drive down from Baltimore to Asheville, and joined them for their New Year’s Eve gig at the Orange Peel that night.
Since moving from Baltimore to Asheville 5 years ago, Mike has become one of the most sought after drummers in Asheville. Though the Firecracker Jazz Band has been his main project, he has become an indispensable part of the Asheville music scene, hired to perform with several of the best and most popular local bands – including Woody Pines, Snake Oil Medicine Show, Jen and the Juice, Screaming J’s, Electric Blues, David Earl and the Plowshares, Grant DaSantos and Fatback and a live recording session with up and coming soul singer/songwriter, Clark King.
His unique style and charisma has won over audiences all over the country and have contributed to the Firecracker Jazz Band winning the (reader-picked) Mountain Xpress’ Best of WNC-Favorite Blues/Jazz/Soul Band for six years in a row, winning Firecracker a place in their Hall of Fame.
Mike’s musical influences include Buddy Rich, Mitch Mitchell, Dennis Chambers, Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Professor Longhair, Blind Willie Johnson, Baby Dodds and Papa Joe Jones. He has played with a lot of groups with a lot of different styles – from jazz to rock to country to blues – and hasn’t missed a beat.