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Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2019 personal letter of congratulations to Michael.  Click here!

"Miles is Chicago's best kept secret...one of the leading lights of contemporary instrumental music." 
- Midwest Record

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Michael is represented by

Siegel Artist Management

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ExistentialBanjo.com

10 LIVE VIDEO CLIPS with some of the world's greatest musicians--Darol Anger on violin, Corky Siegel on harmonica, Erkan Ogur of Turkey and many more. 

CLICK HERE

EXISTENTIALBANJO.COM

New Releases

A-sides CD

Fingerstyle guitar with Darol Anger on violin 

 

Two New Hal Leonard books

BOB DYLAN FOR BANJO

 

FIRST 50 SONGS
To Play on the Banjo 
(co-written with Greg Cahill)

 

CD's On Sale

 

 

 

THE CORMORANT WARRIOR

In the end, this beautiful and elegant warrior of a bird was gone less than 24 hours after this picture was taken.  In the meantime, the experience of our encounter with her was one of wonder and humility.  

We went to the beach for a dinner picnic only to discover that 15 feet away from where we put our chairs was this beautiful creature, standing on a rock, just above the waters of Lake Michigan.  But something was very wrong.  She did not move as we settled in and it seemed immediately apparent that she was in serious distress. She stood motionless, proudly dignified in the breeze with the waves splashing just below her feet. At one moment, and only once, she spread her wings revealing the asymmetry of a wound that took her flight away. Her head was tucked, facing backward, and covered by and buried in her back wings.  What should we do?  

There are people who know what to do under such circumstances.  Chicago Bird Collision Monitors (773 988-1867) sent a volunteer named Susan, a former school teacher.  She graciously and gingerly approached this cormorant, covered it with a towel and picked it right up.  The bird offered no resistance.  The next day, my wife Nina, drove this beautiful creature along with two other wounded birds to the Willowbrook Nature Center who care for wild creatures of all sorts who've been injured.  To our great dismay, our new found friend didn't make it through the day.  

So now, I have this image seared in my imagination.  We are frequently at the lake and marveling at the magnificence of this particular breed.  Cormorants not only fly but they swim deep into the waters in search of prey.  They've been heralded in folklore, according to Wikipedia, ranging from the disguise the devil wore in Garden of Eden to tempt Adam and Eve with an apple, to being the model for a hood ornament on the Packard automobiles of the 1940's. 

We stayed with her for about 90 minutes before Susan arrived.  She never left this rock--perhaps knowing her fate.  Who knows what she was thinking?  But her upright strength and dignity strikes me as warrior-like.  Cormorants can not only fly through the skies and swim to a depth of 150 feet.  With all due respect to the human race, we can't come anywhere near that.   And we marveled at the notion that she could have been saved and we could have seen her fly away with a newly healed wing.  Instead we'll return to Lake Michigan and watch with wistful delight when the next cormorant shows up.  

 

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