About Walt Michael

Biography

Walt Michael’s various incarnations, including Bottle Hill, Michael, McCreesh & Campbell and Walt Michael & Co. have spanned 40 years and taken him from the coal camps of Appalachia to the White House to the Closing Ceremonies of the 13th Olympic Winter Games.

Considered to be a virtuoso of tremendous influence in the revival of the hammered dulcimer, Walt’s wide repertoire ranges from old-time Southern Appalachian, to Celtic, to breathtaking original compositions. As a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist and he has recorded fourteen albums and instructional videos, appeared at the Lincoln Center,  the Kennedy Center and toured extensively throughout the US, Canada, Europe and the UK. His music has been heard on ABC-TV, NBC's Tonight Show, Broadway, BBC, TNN, CBC, OLN and PBS.

Walt has composed and performed collaboratively with both the Pilobolus Dance Theater and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He was the musical producer, composer and recording artist for the Outdoor Living Network’s documentary, Cowboy 101, which premiered in October 2004. In 2005 he collaborated with 5-time Tennessee State Fiddle Champion Jim Wood to produce two instrumental albums featuring his signature hammered dulcimer artistry. His music figures prominently in the feature length movie “The Last Blast” in which he also plays two roles: a punk rocker and a G-man. Walt is a 2016 recipient of a Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Award from the MD State Arts Council as a master hammered dulcimer player.

Walt is the Artist in Residence at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland, as well as founder and Executive Director of Common Ground on the Hill, now in its 26th year, an international arts organization which seeks to promote interracial harmony through the traditional arts.

Walt Michael in the Press

“…..Walt Michael has established himself as one of the most innovative and expressive of traditional musicians….”
Lincoln Center
“For more than thirty years, veteran performer Walt Michael has been setting standards in acoustic music. Walt Michael & Company continues to cross barriers, tastefully and successfully blending tradition with innovation.”
Sing Out Magazine
"In his quietly revolutionary and exploratory music and performance, Michael combines an Old World roots advocacy with global and 20th century influences. His music, like that of Bela Fleck, Mark O’Connor, Edgar Meyer and the Punch Brothers, relaxes the boundaries of folk music … allowing in airs of 20th century Minimalism (for which the hammered dulcimer is delightfully right) and a broad sense of global sourcing.”
John Burdick, Hudson Valley One
“The gems of the night were undoubtedly Walt Michael & Co. …..with tasteful panache they stole away all hearts, Walt making his dulcimer sound like a full orchestra – tutti virtuosi!”
Folk Music News, London
“They really were stunning. Their joyful sound had a packed house begging for encores."
Broadsheet, Scotland
"Walt Michael is a hammered dulcimerist of uncommon power."
Frets Magazine
“Take the traditional – fiddles, hammered dulcimer, guitars; merged with the contemporary; add a touch of classical; and this group forges music that’s fresh and alive.”
Jerome Klein, The Charlotte Observer
“An antidote to all the spoon feeding in-yer-face music that thrusts itself upon us - yes even in the folk world, Walt Michael's music steadfastly refuses to show even a glimmer of lowest common denominator, and here remains resolutely intelligent, both in its selection and execution of the material.”
The Living Tradition Magazine

Notable Appearances

United States
Lakeside Community Concerts
Lakeside, OH
AACW Blues Fest
Yellow Springs, OH
Common Ground on the Hill
Westminster, MD
Blakely Cajun Festival
Blakely, AL
Summer Solstice Festival
Los Angeles, CA
Old Songs Festival
Altamont, NY
Philadelphia Folk Festival
Philadelphia, PA
Merlefest
Wilkesboro, NC
Florida Folk Festival
White Springs, FL
IBMA Fanfest
Owensboro, KY
Lonestar State Dulcimer Festival
Glen Rose, TX
International Celtic Festival
Hunter, NY
Kentucky Center for the Arts
Louisville, KY
Spirit Square
Charlotte, NC
Albuquerque Folk
‍Festival, NM
Winterhawk Bluegrass Festival
Hillsdale, NY
Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival
Croton Point Park, NY
Lake Eden Arts Festival
Black Mountain, NC
Musikfest
Bethlehem, PA
Walnut Valley Festival
Winfield, KS
American Dance Festival
‍Winston Salem, NC
TV & Radio
Stage & Film Productions
Pilobolus Dance Theater
Molly’s Not Dead
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Folksay
Feature Length Film
The Last Blast
International
Bermuda Fringe Festival
Bermuda
Festival Folk d’Epalinge
Switzerland
Common Ground
Scotland
Inverness Folk Festival
Scotland
Belfast Music Festival
N. Ireland
Shetland Folk Festival
Scotland
Girvan Folk Festival
Scotland
Across the Tweed Festival
Scotland
Sidmouth Folk Festival
England
The American Center
Paris, France
La Cour des Miracles
Paris, France
Winnipeg Folk Festival
Canada
Edmonton Folk Festival
Canada
Toronto Folk Festival
Canada
Owen Sound Folk Festival
Canada
Vancouver Folk Festival
Canada
North Winds Festival
Canada
Mahogany Hall
Berne, Switzerland
Folk Club de Serrano
Serano, Italy
Clubs
The Birchmere
Alexandria, VA
The Lonestar
New York City, NY
Folk City
New York City, NY
The Palamino
Los Angeles, CA
Towne Crier Café
Pawling, NY
Passim
Cambridge, MA
Freight & Salvage
Berkley, CA
The Ark
Ann Arbor, MI
Ethel’s Place
Baltimore, MD
The Speakeasy
New York City, NY
Caffé Lena
Saratoga, NY
Godfrey Daniels
Bethlehem, PA
Teaching REsidencies
Common Ground on the Hill
at McDaniel College
Augusta Heritage Workshops
at Davis & Elkins College
Swannanoa Gathering
at Warren Wilson College

Awards

NAIRD Award Nomination
National Association of Independent Record Distributors 1988 for album Walt Michael & Co. - Step Stone on Flying Fish Records
National Association of Independent Record Distributors 1988 for album Walt Michael & Co. - Step Stone on Flying Fish Records
Presented to Common Ground on the Hill by the Human Relations Commission of Carroll County in acknowledgement of your commitment and achievements in fostering and promoting human relations in Carroll County March 18th, 1996
The Shirley Chace Phillips Award
Presented to Walt Michael for his work as Artistic Director of Common Ground on the Hill - Presented by the League of Women Voters of Carroll County May 1999
The President's Medal
Presented to Walter Marion Michael in grateful recognition of service on the behalf of the Mission of Capitol College November 6, 2003
Human Relations Award
Presented to Walter Michael by the Human Relations Commission of Carroll County in acknowledgement of your commitment and achievements in fostering and promoting human relations in Carroll County March 22, 2004 click here to read Troubadour for Justice award speech given by Dr. Ira G. Zepp, Jr.A
Trustee Alumni Award of McDaniel College
Walter M. Michael II - May 2, 2004
Encomium in Honor of Walter M. Michael II
On the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of its Summer gathering for the vision to see, the courage to create and the strength to sustain a working effort demonstrating that manifold artistic traditions are a common thread unifying all of humanity. Presented with thanks for building "Common Ground" for all of us. By the Common Ground Community, July 2004
$500K Club
Walter Michael - Presented by the McDaniel College Office of Academic & Government Grants - 2009
Carroll County Tourism Award
Walt Michael - Common Ground on the Hill - Presented by the Carroll County Department of Economic Development on November, 2011

Walt's Music

Walt’s wide repertoire ranges from old-time Southern Appalachian, to Celtic, to breathtaking original compositions. As a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist he has recorded fourteen albums and instructional videos, appeared at the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and toured extensively throughout the US, Canada, Europe and the UK. His music has been heard on ABC-TV, NBC's Tonight Show, Broadway, BBC, TNN, CBC, OLN and PBS.

PERFORMANCES

Walt Michael is a member of the Maryland Touring Artist Roster, a program of the Maryland State Arts Council.  If you are interested in having Walt perform at your venue, and if you are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in the Maryland/DC area, you qualify for funding to help bring Walt to your venue.