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August Music News

August Music News

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Just a few shows for you this month…

I can’t believe it’s August already, and I’ve only been to one baseball game! Something really must be done about that. This month my concert schedule’s pretty light again, as I’m continuing to push forward with recording my new full-length (and my 6th release all together), House of Ghosts. I will be playing 4 shows (one of them tonight!) around North East Ohio, I’d love to see you at any of these!

To get additional details on any of these, head to the tour dates page on my site.

Production is moving quickly for House of Ghosts. My co-producer Eric Bertagnolli, who’s also playing drums and will be mixing the record, suggested that we get two songs to a “finished” state before tackling the rest of the record, to make sure we had the exact sound dialed in that we were looking for. I’m absolutely thrilled with how those two tracks turned out, and plan to release one of them – “A Work in Progress” – as a preview single, along with a music video, next month. I’ll almost certainly be playing that song at any of those shows listed above as well.

Thanks again for taking this journey with me, and hope you’re having a great summer!


Copyright © 2017 Michael McFarland, All rights reserved.

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July Music News

July Music News

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Hey, Friend,

Recording is in full swing!

I’ve only booked a few shows for this month, because I’m dedicating most of the time to working on recording my new full-length, House of Ghosts

There’s always a chance that I might add a few more shows to the calendar, but for the moment, I’ve just got these 2:

Thursday, July 6 – Ashtabula Harbor (Ashtabula, OH) – 7:00
Saturday, July 8 – Beerhead (Cleveland, OH) – 10:00

To get additional details on these, and to check to see if more get added later in the month, you can always head to the tour dates page on my site.

I’m co-producing House of Ghosts with Eric Bertagnolli, who mixed and mastered We Are The Architects. You might also know him as the drummer in my band (Michael McFarland & the Mess Makers) when I’m not playing solo. In addition to co-producing, Eric is playing drums on the record, and looking like a beast while doing so:

The plan is to release a preview single from the record in September, and have the full album ready to go before the end of the year. I’ll be test-driving all the new songs at the live shows until then, so if you make it to one you can expect to hear some new material.

Thanks again for taking this journey with me!


Copyright © 2017 Michael McFarland, All rights reserved.

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June Music News

June Music News

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So many shows!

June is going to be packed full of shows around the North East Ohio Area. Maybe I’ll see your face at one of these… that would make my face do this: 

To get additional details on any of these, head to the tour dates page on my site.

I’ve also gotten pre-production underway in earnest for my next record, which will be entitled “House of Ghosts.” I’ll be test-driving songs from this record at all these shows.

I’ll be co-producing this new full-length album with Eric Bertagnolli, who mixed We Are the Architects. You might also know him as the drummer from Michael McFarland & The Mess Makers. I’m hoping to have tracking complete for the album by the end of the summer, and have it released before the end of the year.

Thanks again for taking this journey with me!


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A Tale of Turkey & Tours

A Tale of Turkey & Tours

I’m full of thanks, full of turkey, and back out on the road!

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I’m full of thanks, full of turkey, and back out on the road!

This’ll be a quick one, because I think the picture above says most everything necessary. After a wonderfully gut-busting Thanksgiving in the southwest corner of Ohio, I kicked off my “We Are The Architects” tour on Saturday night at the Listing Loon in Cincinnati. If you see your town on the list, you can find all the details about the individual shows on my Facebook page – I’ve created events for most of them, and will be posting additional details as I hit each city along the way.

In case you don’t already, you can also follow my journeys on my Instagram account. If you look through the pictures there, you might also notice that I’ve got another creative iron in the fire, in the form of a tabletop game called “Pests!” which will be headed to Kickstarter early next year. If you’re into board games, you can check out the Official Pests! Site or the Pests! Facebook Page. If that’s not your cup of tea, this is the last you’ll hear of it in these e-mails!

Thanks again for joining me on my musical journey. I hope I’ll get to see a lot of old friends on this tour. If you don’t see your city on the list this time around and you’d like me to head there soon, please let me know – I’m hoping to make the southwest & west coast happen again next year, it’s been far too long.


Copyright © 2016 Michael McFarland, All rights reserved.

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Cleveland Spiders: Time for a New Name and Logo for Cleveland Baseball

Update 08/12/2020:

Cleveland Spiders T-shirt DesignWe’ve almost sold out of the hats, all the pre-orders of the masks are in the mail, so why not some shirts! These Cleveland Spiders Shirts are now available for pre-order – $20, free shipping, and again 50% of profits from these will be going to the Lake Erie Native American Council!

It’s been awesome seeing all the pictures people from around the country have posted with the hats and masks, I’ll be sharing a gallery of some of those soon!

Update 07/27/2020:

It looks like this pandemic thing might be around for a while… which is why we’ve just opened pre-orders for Cleveland Spiders Masks. Just $13, free shipping. 50% of profits from these will be going to the Lake Erie Native American Council.

Manufacturing of the hats is almost complete, and we expect to have those in the mail to pre-orderers by early next week!

Update 07/14/2020:

Since the idea of renaming Cleveland’s baseball team has come to the forefront of national discussion, there’s been a ton of requests for Cleveland Spiders caps like the one I posted before. So, first things first, caps are available for pre-order from Spontaneously Combustible ApparelWe have 3 styles available:

So get your order in now! 50% of profits from the sales of these caps will be donated to First Nations Development Institute:
Through a three-pronged strategy of Educating Grassroots Practitioners, Advocating for Systemic Change, Capitalizing Indian Communities, First Nations Development Institute has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage, or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native communities. First Nations serves rural and reservation based Native American communities throughout the United States.

I’ve also put in some time imagining what other elements of the Cleveland Spiders brand would look like, for example:

I put together a design for a Cleveland Spiders Logotype / Word Mark:

Cleveland Spiders Logo - Logotype Wordmark

Came up with a proposed design for Cleveland Spiders Uniforms:

Cleveland Spiders Uniform Design

And just for funzies, made a little Cleveland Spiders logo animation GIF:

Cleveland Spiders Logo - 3D Rotator GIF

Who knows where all this will go, but it seems like both the fans and the organization may finally be ready for a change!

Update 07/04/2020:

This Cleveland Spiders logo design has been showing up all over social media lately. I’m thrilled this is now a serious topic of conversation! I should add to this article that the logo looks great on caps – a friend had this one-off made back when I was printing these shirts 4 years back:

Original Post 10/24/2016:

I’ve been having a little bit of a crisis of conscience lately. I am absolutely THRILLED that Cleveland’s baseball team has made it to the World Series. My 12 year old heart was broken in 1997, and to be headed back there again makes me giddy.
spiders_instagramHowever, I’ve been unable to wear the Chief Wahoo logo in good conscience for a long time, and while not nearly as troubling, even the team name gives me pause.
So, while it’s only a small gesture, I figured I might as well put my money where my mouth is. Some of you may have heard of the Cleveland Spiders – they were the major league team in Cleveland prior to the Cleveland Lake Shores, which eventually became the team we have today. Cy Young pitched for them, and they won a championship in 1895. Then in 1899, the owners bought another team and dismantled the Spiders for parts, leaving them with a decimated roster which lead to the worst record in baseball.
Cleveland is a city emerging out of a period that seems not unlike what happened to the Spiders. If there were ever a time to bring back the name, this is it.
To that end, I’ve designed this logo. Feel free to use the logo however you wish for non-commercial purposes (Creative Commons license info at the bottom of this post) – here’s a PNG of the logo, click on it to get the high-res version:
This is what I’ll be wearing – along with my Block C cap – as I cheer our team on to victory in the World Series.
This was originally posted on Facebook, and has since been shared all over, and I’ve sent shirts across the country. Here’s a look at the screen printing process:
PLEASE NOTE: I have absolutely no interest in getting in a discussion about whether the logo & team name are offensive or should be changed. If you try to engage in that discussion, your post WILL be deleted.
LEGAL NOTE: This logo design is available for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license:

How To Change The World

How To Change The World

Hey Friend!

As usual, I’ll make this quick. Here’s what I’m excited about right now:

    For a long time, the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern in Cleveland has been one of my favorite places to see shows. Tonight, for the first time, I’ll be playing there! I’m thrilled to be sharing the stage with Star & Micey from Memphis, and my friends in Nick Wilkinson & The Featured Players. Click here for all the details.

    A few years ago, some filmmakers in North East Ohio asked if they could use my music in the feature-length film they were shooting, entitled “How To Change The World” – a comedy inspired by the screenwriter’s experience starting the Occupy Akron movement. As production moved along, the director asked if I’d be willing to write and record a “theme song” for the film. It’s been a long road from there to here, but the movie comes out THIS SATURDAY, and will premiere at the Nightlight Theater in Akron. You can learn more about it here:

    And you can hear that song I wrote for the film here!

    Big thanks to my friend Jessica Nielsen for adding her voice to this song and making the end sound HUGE. You can expect a music video for this in the very near future, so be sure to subscribe to my youtube channel to catch that!

    For the fifth year running, I’ve been selected to showcase at the Singer-Songwriter Cape May conference & festival in Cape May, New Jersey. I’ll be heading there this weekend, along with my Solo Society partners-in-crime Kevin Conaway and Sean Benjamin.

    I’ll be playing two shows this year:
    Lucky BonesFriday @ 9:00
    Fins Bar & Grill Saturday @ 10:45

    On the way there tomorrow, we’ll be dropping by Magic 98.3 in Somerset, NJ to hang out on-air with Debbie Mazella, who recently featured me in her “On The Verge” segment:  – if you’re in the area, be sure to tune in between 1:00 & 3:00!

    The content channel Permanently Geek that some of my incredibly talented, creative, and funny friends and I started several months back is still growing, with new shows debuting and new episodes of the existing shows going up every week. I’m particularly proud of the show Uncovered that Kevin Conaway & I host, where we compare original versions of songs & their covers. Each week just gets more fun to shoot, and I think it comes through when watching the show. Check out a playlist of all the episodes here:

I think that’s all I’ve got for now. For all the day-to-day, up-to-the-minute, edge-of-your-seat happenings, be sure to like my facebook page.

Take care, hope to see you soon!

Copyright © 2016 Michael McFarland, All rights reserved.

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Why I’m Moving to Cleveland

No, it’s not because of Lebron. Mostly.

photo credit: Rabesphotophoto credit: Rabesphoto

A month ago, my wife & I decided that we were moving from Asheville, North Carolina to the Near West Side of Cleveland, Ohio – specifically, to the Gordon Square neighborhood. We made our decision quickly, but not without a lot of careful thought. While it may seem trite to credit philosophical rationale to a film, at some point in my teenage years, a sidebar from Jim Jarmusch (from Akron, Ohio)’s film Ghost Dog stuck with me. Forrest Whitaker’s inner-city Samurai/Hitman quoted from the Hagakure, “A decision should be made in the space of seven breaths”.

I feel most of the important decisions in my life have been made this way. Once the necessary information has been collected, dwelling on a decision does nothing but cloud the matter at hand. Analyze your data, weigh your options, and then trust your gut.

Some background:

I grew up in North East Ohio, in the suburbs of Kent. My father was a professor at Kent State University, and we lived in a spacious house with a big back yard. Going anywhere required getting in the car – nothing was more than a few miles away, but everything was just a little bit further than seemed convenient by foot or by bicycle. Walking and biking were for recreation, not utility.

I attended Kent State University, studying Visual Communication Design. I lived on campus. My legs saw a lot of use, and it felt good. Everything was at your fingertips – food, knowledge, entertainment – but in the pre-packaged environment you can expect from a college campus.

Shortly before graduation, I purchased a house in Stow, firmly situated in the suburbs. I bought the house with a vision for what I could do with it: a recording studio and practice space in the basement, a place to build my Graphic Design business, an open and welcoming environment for my friends and my friends’ friends. I can’t count the number of people who crashed on couches and floors in that house over the six years I lived there. While the surroundings were not compelling for me (every chain store or restaurant you could imagine within a few minutes drive!), what occurred within those walls was an end unto itself.

In the summer of 2010, I was shattered by the collapse of my engagement to a woman who had also grown up in the Kent area. Suddenly, everything I saw on a daily basis was soured by memories of that relationship – when your entire life has been lived, for the most part, within a 5-mile radius, it’s hard to escape the daily reminders of how things didn’t go according to plan. I began to plot my escape.

In September of 2011, I relocated to Asheville, North Carolina. From the start, I viewed Asheville as less of a destination and more of a waypoint – I said, “I’ll give it a year, and see how things go. If I’m not happy, I’ll move on.” I knew that if I was able to survive the move away from Ohio, the world would then be my oyster.

Asheville’s a beautiful, seductive place, laden with gorgeous scenery, great food, plentiful microbreweries, and not a chain store to be seen downtown.

After one year, I had no desire to leave. It was a great home base for touring – I covered most of the US on tour in 2012.

Another year, and I married my wife Beth on top of Mt. Pisgah.

Six months later, I knew it was time to move on.

I can’t point to one single event, just a series of loosely connected realizations that accumulated into the sense that my time in Asheville was drawing to a close.

Beth & I set our sites on Austin, TX. It had long been on both of our lists of places we’d love to live. We planned a trip for mid July to scout out the city, both of us operating on the assumption that we’d be moving there within the next 8 months.

We had a great time on that trip, but Austin just didn’t feel right. I was physically unable to deal with the Texas heat, and housing costs were stomach-churningly high for us. Sitting in a gelato shop in North Austin, we discussed our options.

“We could always backpedal and stay in Asheville for a while longer,” I said. “Or… and this might sound crazy… but what about Cleveland?”

It was just the previous day that Lebron James had announced that he would be returning to Cleveland to play for the Cavs, so there’s no way I can completely discount the effect his Decision (capital D) had in this question – someone who could literally choose anywhere in the country to call home, chose this city. But far more than Lebron, credit is due to Jack, Jeremy and Paul.

These are my friends who for the last several years have been singing Cleveland’s praises; sharing every positive article published about the city, mentioning every great new restaurant, every resurgent neighborhood, every new downtown development. These were the Cleveland evangelists populating my Facebook feeds with the idea: Cleveland is the next big thing.

Any of the “cool” cities on our list – Austin, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco – were already well out of our price range as places to plant our flag. That’s because people believed in those cities, and put down roots before the cities were “cool”. They contributed their energy, their talent, their enthusiasm to their neighborhoods and their cities. They were what made the city flourish, and what eventually made the city “cool”.

This is why Beth & I made the decision that we want to be part of something that’s in process of happening, not something that has already happened.

IS9lq7f7tzstxl1000000000Our second day visiting Cleveland, we put in an offer on a 3-story Victorian house, one block off Detroit Avenue. Our offer was accepted the same day. If all goes to plan and there are no unexpected issues in closing on the house we will be relocating at the end of September.

In the 1940s the house was converted into a men’s boarding house, and hasn’t been updated since. It has random sinks and stoves scattered throughout. It’s going to take energy, vision, and hard work to make it into our dream house, but we’re willing to put in the effort.

Cleveland is going to take energy, vision, and hard work.

We’re willing to put in the effort.


Christmas iPhone Ad: A Socially Anxious Extrovert’s Perspective

Earlier today, my good friend Brian Otte shared Apple’s new iPhone Christmas ad, entitled “Misunderstood.”

The ad depicts a family Christmas gathering. In each scene we see a teenage boy focused on his phone, seemingly withdrawn from the activities going on around him. In the final scene of the commercial, he gathers the family together and shares the video he’d be secretly shooting throughout the day, on his phone.

Brian shared the video with the comment, “I really don’t know how I feel about the sentiment here. On the one hand it demonstrates that technology can be used to capture moments instead of avoid them, but on the other hand I feel like too often we are concerned with capturing moments instead of participating in them.”

In the discussion that followed, an NPR article about the same ad was shared, which discussed those same two interpretations of the ad – the one which (negatively) feels that it’s saying our phones should be infused into every aspect of our lives, and the other which (positively) feels the ad is pointing out that a seemingly-disconnected teenager may in fact be engaged in the events around him or her.

I have a feeling that the two basic reactions stem from two different general views of technology, and what effect it has on children, or people in general. For those who feel that technology can enrich our lives, and can help those who have difficulty connecting find a way to reach out to others, it does a wonderful job of pointing out that the kid who spends his time on his phone might not be shutting out what’s happening around him, but connecting in his own way. It’s not just about capturing moments as opposed to participating; creating something that can be experienced by others IS participating.

For those who believe that technology separates us from one another, the reaction is opposite. What I think those people forget is the kids that sit around on their phones, but are still with family, without those phones would either be looking miserable and saying nothing, or have gone off by themselves. Remember how parents used to complain that kids were always off in their rooms talking on the phone? Well, they’re not in their rooms anymore, and they’re not tying up the phone lines.

I fall squarely into the first group. I’m an extrovert with social anxiety – I crave human interaction, but am terrified of making first contact with strangers, or even those I don’t know well (and that includes extended family). Sharing things that I’d created – much like the kid in this video – was a way for me to break through that initial awkwardness and jumpstart interactions with people.

That’s one of the big reasons I’m a musician. Getting on stage and playing my songs is a way to connect with people I’d be otherwise terrified to go up and speak to.

Happy holidays, everyone… however you choose to participate in them!

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Artist Profile: Kristen Ford

Kristen FordArtist:
Kristen Ford

Sounds like:
A genre-bending songstress [ed. note: The term “songstress” always makes me want to ask people to refer to me as a “songster”] who deftly weaves her way though rock, reggae, soul and pop without breaking a sweat.

How I discovered:
in November of 2011, shortly after I moved to Asheville, Kristen came through town on tour with her friend Kara Kulpa. She played at the One Stop as part of the Brown Bag Songwriting competition, and I was immediately taken by her stage presence, great songs, casual confidence and occasional mid-song beatboxing. She was one of the finalists in the competition that night, you can check out video of part of that performance here:

I got a chance to chat with her afterwards, talking about how she put her whole tour together, and what it was like out on the road. I was so inspired that I went home that night and started planning my first tour!

Favorite tracks:
Bag of Bones
Ember Autumn
Love You Madly

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Influential Albums: The Dear Hunter – The Lake South, The River North

Influential Albums: The Dear Hunter – The Lake South, The River North – From The Mind of McFarland music blog.

InfluentialAlbumsI already wrote about Casey Crescenzo’s previous band, The Receiving End Of Sirens, on one of my previous “Top 20 Albums” posts, and how the band went downhill after Crescenzo’s departure to focus on The Dear Hunter. While losing Casey may have spelled the end for TREOS, for him it was not the end of him creating fantastic, and for me, influential albums. In fact, Casey’s first full-length release with The Dear Hunter is an amazing, sweeping piece of work; a concept album from a concept band that manages to be high-minded, creative, and completely listenable.

From the opening track Battesimo del Fuoco (“Baptism of Fire”), it’s immediately obvious that you’re not going to be listening to your average “here’s a whole bunch of songs we wrote, in an order that sounded nice together” kind of album. It gives the impression of an overture, the prelude to a story, which indeed it is.

The Lake South, The River North is is the first “act” in the the story of the group’s titular character (The Dear Hunter) – his birth to a prostitute, his formative years, and his eventual departure from his hometown. The whole thing sounds on paper like it should reek of pretension, but the listening experience negates that impression; it’s a joy to listen to, even disregarding the storyline that ties it all together, and the unusual arrangements and subject matter still yield songs that can stand alone on their own merit.

The Dear Hunter’s use of unexpected rhythmical patterns, swung beats and unusual instrumentations have certainly had an influence on how I write songs, and the conceptual themes that run through this, and the rest of The Dear Hunter’s albums have reminded me that’s it’s possible to have put out records with strong concepts that don’t feel overworked and overblown. And I hadn’t realized it until now, but I think a little of “The Pimp & The Priest”s rhythm may have crept into the title track of my latest record, “A Failed Breakup“.

Unleaded rhythmic alt-pop fuels singer/songwriter and two-wheel troubadour Michael McFarland’s engine. Michael McFarland in the simplest summary? Writer, Rocker, Biker, Geek.

For Michael’s Music, Cd’s, Downloads, Merchandise, live show schedule, music blogs, music videos, and everything else you want to know about McFarland, visit the Michael McFarland Website at

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Clan McFarland Profile: Mark Smith

Mark Smith1. What’s your name?
Mark Smith

2. Where do you live?
Akron, Ohio

3. When/where/how did you first hear Michael McFarland’s music?
Working on the film “How to Change the World” [Michael’s music is heavily featured in the film, which will be released soon!] / through Neil Weakland and Ian Kline

4. What’s your favorite Michael McFarland song and why?
Valentine” –  ’cause I’ve always been a better man, a better man than you think I am!

5. Have you ever seen Michael perform live? If so, when/where? 
3 times: Thursday’s in Akron May 2012, that coffee bar [Nervous Dog] in Stow August 2013, and Thursday’s 11/08/2013

6. What toppings would you like on your pizza? 
Pepperoni, anchovies, onions and green olives.

7. How many fingers am I holding up? 
13 [Impressive! 13 is my lucky number of fingers!]

8. Apart from Michael McFarland, who’s your favorite musician? 
Joe Jackson.

9. Rock, paper, or scissors? 

Michael chose rock, and Mark is the victor! Michael needs to re-think his strategy…


Tour Soundtracks: Music and Memory

Tour Soundtracks: Music and Memory – From The Mind of McFarland music blog.

TourSoundtracksOne thing I love about music is how it can anchor memories. Just a few seconds of a song can trigger vivid memories for me, conjuring up images, places, and even scents. The beginning of the opening track to Summercamp Nightmare by 3 immediately takes me back to the summer after my sophomore year in college, sitting on the curb outside the Country Kitchen back in Kent, Ohio, the smell of clove smoke in the air. One of the greatest compliments I’ve had paid to my music is being told that one of my records was “the soundtrack to our road trip”.

The last two tours I’ve gone on had very distinct soundtracks for me. I did these tours on my motorcycle, with a bluetooth headset feeding GPS directions and Spotify playlists into my left ear. I started out with just a few albums on the playlist at the beginning of the first tour, and added to that playlist as I received suggestions or as the whim struck me.

You can check out the playlists for my Lighthouse tour and A Failed Breakup tour here:
#AFailedBreakupTour Playlist
#LighthouseTour Playlist

In about a week, I’ll be hitting the road for the third tour of this year – just a short one this time, five dates across Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, and West Virginia, and I’m super excited to be joined by my good friend Salt (Check out his stuff here, as Skeleton In You) this time around.

Of course, this tour will need to have a soundtrack as well, and I’d like you to help me build it! So please, if you have any recommendations for music – new, old, whatever – that you think should be the soundtrack to this next tour, please let me know. Drop a comment below, or on my Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ pages, and help me create a new batch of memories!

Unleaded rhythmic alt-pop fuels singer/songwriter and two-wheel troubadour Michael McFarland’s engine. Michael McFarland in the simplest summary? Writer, Rocker, Biker, Geek.

For Michael’s Music, Cd’s, Downloads, Merchandise, live show schedule, music blogs, music videos, and everything else you want to know about McFarland, visit the Michael McFarland Website at