Posted on in Art + Soul by Lloyd Barde

Mikey Pauker

When I first saw Mikey Pauker perform, I could tell he had a sensitive heart. He also has a unique presence, and a rootsy style backed by ample chutzpah and considerable chops. He was opening the show for Adey Bell (see review in March issue) with a small crowd of musical explorers back in 2014. Since then Mikey has shared the stage with kindred artists such as Trevor Hall, Matisyahu, Ayla Nereo, Polish Ambassador, MC Yogi, Mike Love, and others from SoulPlay to Shakti Fest, Beloved to Mystic Rising, SXSW to Chant 4 Change on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and this summer at Reggae on the Rocks in Colorado.

Cover Ascension

His breakthrough new CD Ascension rides cool soft reggae-flavored melodies with a pungent rhythm, great production, and high spirits. In particular, the song “Rise” highlights Pauker’s poetic lyricism and inimitable voice. The video for “Rise,” directed by Gabriel Diamond with Candice Holdorf, has already attracted more than a million views. Each of the six songs, of anthemic proportions, carves out a wide space in which to sing along, feel inspired, and fire up your day, especially “I AM,” “Say Yes,” and the closer, “Believe.”

Altogether the tracks represent Mikey as a big-hearted, spiritually sensitive communal activist searching for a balance between selfcare and social transformation. He turns to music as a craft that can create new bonds and allow each person to dive more deeply into their inner light and shadow.

Growing up in Orange County, Mikey’s early experiences at underground shows exposed him to the primal energy of live music, as well as to the strong community that forms in an authentic scene. Inspired by teachers blending yoga and mystical practices, he went to study in Jerusalem, soaking up the teachings of his ancestral lineage. These spiritual dimensions guided his artistic development as he explored ecstatic music festivals and mystical religious traditions. His music implores us all to look within, sit with our darkness, and transform it into light.

Mikey’s sound blends elements of folk, reggae, and hip-hop, incorporating English and Hebrew roots into his devotional songwriting. His music draws from influences such as early Bob Marley, Van Morrison, and The Police, and listeners will immediately identify his style with that of Michael Franti, Trevor Hall, and Nahko & Medicine for the People. Mikey will appear with renowned Kirtan group Shantala April 13 at Key Tea, San Rafael.


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