9.8.13 – Mike Neumeyer: Background Music Specialist

Background Piano at the Twisted Willow:

Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of providing dinner music for the customers of the Twisted Willow Restaurant logo_80_eggshell_trans

(very good food and service; check them out!)

I happen to know a great musician, businessman and bartender; Joe Buth – and he asked me if I could play some jazz piano for a few hours after their act had cancelled unexpectedly.  I was free and the result was another great experience for me and (I’m pretty sure) the folks who ate and conversed while I played piano.

Mike’s Style:

I prefer to stick to a relaxed jazz style when playing the piano or upbeat funky grooves somewhat resembling Vince Guaraldi.  (although I don’t believe I am at his level at all!)  With these styles and grooves I place familiar tunes that many people would recognize; some from last night that I remember were “These Boots are Made for Walkin’,” “Hey Jude,” and “Stand By Me.”  I also threw in a few originals and improvisations along the way.  Also, I honored a few requests, such as the Charlie Brown referenced “Linus and Lucy” and one woman did choose a Bee Gees tune that I had fun with!  I chose myself to play the Mario Bros theme for the video game fans who were eating or hanging at the bar.
NES-SMB-Cover                                                                 NES-ClassiclyTrained

I figured folks would just listen and continue eating, but many nice people enjoyed the music enough to drop me several tips.  On top of that, after some of the recognizable tunes; there was applause from the customers!  They would stop eating and take their personal time to appluad for the background music!  Yay!  I felt good about the styles and selections I was choosing for the evening.

Final Thoughts on Background Music:

This experience just reminded me of something that I already knew: I really enjoy providing background music for different occasions.  I’ve provided music using a keyboard or a marimba that is quiet enough to talk over for art gallery showings, receptions, business gatherings, weddings, funerals, and more.  I always feel like having the marimba is a special situation when you really want the listeners to remember the occasion.  Folks might see piano a lot, but it would be VERY rare that they see a marimba providing music for the event they are attending.  I always enjoy the background aspect of the work, but I have met some great people in the “audience” at times when they have requests, questions, or comments!  Keep your eye on my events calendar for more background music appearances and feel free to contact me if you think “Mike’s Style” is a fit for your event!



8.16.13 – I will give you $$$ For Return of iPod and Hard Drive – Lessons to Learn About Theft

If you are the two (or more) fellas who took stuff from me, I wish you the best and I hope you reconsider your actions and get on a better path to making money.  I figured you might look my website up since you did steal my music education brochures and many of the albums released by me.  Also, if you still have my iPod and portable hard drive – please return it.  It takes a long time to build up a collection of music and you took the device that had the collection (iPod) and the device that had my backed up files (WD Hard Drive).  I will even pay you for the return of those items.

Like I said, I wish you well in your future endeavors which don’t include violating other people. 

The Story:

So on the morning of Wednesday August 14th, I walked up to my van to go to work.  The driver’s side door was open a little bit. “Dang it!  Is my battery going to be dead?”  I continued to enter the car and saw that the iPod cord was not plugged into the stereo unit like normal.  Yup, the iPod was gone.  I hadn’t learned my lesson to lock my car and remove valuables after two iPods had been stolen from me in previous years.  BUT THIS WAS MY OWN APARTMENT.  Can’t trust any location where it is an open parking lot I guess.

I noticed after I shut the door that the light was still on.  The passenger sliding doors were open and BAM!  I realized that all of the percussion equipment in the car was missing!  These were most of the mallets and percussion gear that I developed with and they are VERY important to me.  (Well Mike, why would you leave that in the car then?)  Lesson: never leave any valuables in the car, within view.

So I went through with a police report and the insurance claim (because this was almost $2000 worth of percussion gear and electronics!)  Then while calculating the list of missing things I realized that the portable hard drive that included my entire music collection was on the passenger seat.  Boom; my entire music collection of over 18,000 songs… was gone.  The music collection that I tirelessly fed disc after disc into iTunes for years to be playable on an iPod.  Gone.  It felt like part of my soul had been taken away.  As my friend Jaems said, “just make new music now…” (Well Mike, why would you ever keep those two items in the same place?) Lesson: Back up everything I have onto a large hard drive and start using the cloud!

This is when I went through with a fraud alert and changed my credit cards just to be safe.  I learned quite a bit about credit bureaus and identity theft!

By this time I had called many music stores and media exchange type of places to make sure they knew to keep a lookout for my possessions.  There was a very nice man named Burt who helped me out by contacting other store owners he knew for me.  If anyone reading this falls into this situation, ask the store owners if there is anyone who could help out that way!  (BTW: Everybody should shop at the Music -Go-Round in Greenfield.) The day after the theft, I was called by a police officer who asked me to describe my mallets.  It was the toy purple shafted and orange headed mallet in the picture below that made him say, “yeah, this is yours.” 🙂  When I got there, there were to fellas who were being interrogated, searched, and handcuffed.  I felt very emotional at that point and decided it was probably safest for me to blend into the store.  End of this part of the story, they got a citation for possession of stolen property and I got my music equipment back.  Lesson: immediately after theft, check in with pawn shops and such and do a police report in order to get information out there.



Unfortunately, they said that they were selling it for a third party and I guess that means they were not able to search cars/houses… (or they already got rid of the electronics)  I guess they had an iPod cord, but that is not enough.  It seemed like a shame that their rights were protected by law at this point.  Nevertheless, I did not receive my music collection or iPod back.  Hey guys who got busted!  Be sure to listen to the recent recordings that Mike Neumeyer and Jaems Murphy have put together!  They will be in the playlist titled: Guitarimba.  (hehe, get it?  Guitar and Marimba… a marimba is what you would play with those mallets you stole!  Learning is fun!) 🙂

Well, this has been a very educational roller coaster of an adventure for me.  I really wish folks weren’t pushed to do this type of stuff and that I could actually trust having some equipment in my car where in my own apartment complex, but that is not the world we live in.  The world has never really been like that.  I am so lucky to have learned a lesson while still getting my treasures back.  Gentlemen, if you are reading this – please consider making a wrong into a right by returning the electronic items.  You obviously know where I live.  All the Best.



8.4.13 – Awesome August – Cool New Stuff – August will be Awesome…


I have been having a blast playing with old high school acquaintance, Jaems Murphy – talented guitarist.  Our project has revolved around playing pop, jazz, and originals with marimba and guitar!  These two sounds mixed together creates a wonderful relaxing atmosphere that is perfect as live background music for private events, while also being a great visually appealing improvisatory performance for a crowd. 🙂

Make a cup of tea and give this a listen! http://michaelneumeyerjaemsmurphy.wordpress.com/music-2/



Remember the last blog?  I received some really cool pictures back from Dal Van Minsel; he worked some artistic magic on some pictures of the marimba resonators.  Thank You Dale!

Check these out:

“Marimba” – Dale Van Minsel Marimba

“Eclipse” – Dale Van Minsel





7.29.13 – July was Fun


Above is my setup for “Shrek! The Musical,” in which I performed percussion during the Port Washington Summer Theatre Production.  This performance was very fun because it was a newer musical.  These newer parts tend to have a lot of genres mixed together, hence the many different percussion instruments in my setup.  I love playing djembe, so having those grooves to play (with a foot pedal tambourine) was probably the highlight of this setup/music.


Earlier in the month of July I did perform at an Art Gallery in Port Washington, WI as well.  This was for Gallery 224 for their photography show to start off the year.  I was playing background music and taking requests as well.  Many Beatles tunes, Jazz standards, originals, and improvisations.

While there, I had the pleasure of meeting Dale Van Minsel – who then helped me set up my marimba as well as took some great photos of it!  Please check out Dale’s work!




Lastly, for this post:  I have started to work the the Cudahy Marching Band and acted as the Summer Drumline Coach!  We participated in the Cudahy Fourth of July Parade as well as the South Shore Frolic Parade.  Parades are fun!  They bring me back.  The Cudahy students have taught me a lot and I look forward to working more with them!

See you next post. 🙂


6.29.13 – Official Report: Mike Neumeyer & Friends #8 is GREAT!



Click for a funny “Mike Neumeyer” sketch.  That’s what happens at Mike Neumeyer events!


Speaking of, “Mike Neumeyer & Friends #8” was a great day and a great success.  The weather turned out perfect and the show went off without a hitch.  Thanks to everyone of the friends involved!  It feels so great to have gone eight years with that event!  Thank you everyone for coming out to watch!

Please check out some clips on YouTube if you missed out!  Like this tune by James Murphy:



Check my events page for upcoming performances in August!

Best of summer to all,




5.1.13 – Upcoming Mike Neumeyer Events!

Please check out this sample recording of me jamming to a Beatles tune:


Please check out this amazing project (I am part of The East Side Chamber Players, read on about this creative composition collaboration! Whoa!  Alliteration… ):
The East Side Chamber Players is working on a project that is donation-funded.  ESCP is embarking on a unique musical collaboration with the Milwaukee Math and Science Academy and local composers. In this project, ESCP is commissioning composers to bring to life poetry written by MMSA elementary students, allowing the students and the surrounding community the opportunity to hear the creative thoughts of these remarkable young people through original musical compositions. The students will also create artwork that corresponds with their poetry, further engaging their self-expression and artistic talent. The compositions will be recorded in Spring 2013 and performed by ESCP musicians at Milwaukee Math and Science Academy and ESCP’s November 2013 concert.

We are using a Kickstarter campaign to reach our goal to pay for the costs of recording and paying the composers.  Although we have reached our minimum goal, we are working toward a new goal of recording in a professional studio and including students in the process.  If you are able, we would appreciate any donations you can offer.  The link to the project is http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/910246324/opus-110-a-musical-journey-through-student-poetry?ref=email.  Please share this project with family and friends!

Upcoming Mike Neumeyer Events:
THURSDAY, MAY 23RD, 7PM – Oak Creek High School Little Theatre, Oak Creek, WI:
Voirimba! – fundraiser for Oak Creek High School Band Program
– fun for all ages, great for hanging out with friends
– great music provided by Mike playing with Oak Creek Marching Band Staff and other guest artists
– marimba and many instruments including flute, horn, trumpet, trombone, guitar – maybe more!  Jazz, classical, pop, rock… with marimba? 🙂

SUNDAY, JUNE 23RD, 6:30PM – Veteran’s Memorial Park, Port Washington, WI
Mike Neumeyer & Friends #8 – the eighth annual Mike Neumeyer & Friends!
– bandshell, jazz in the park setting with many friends who play very well
– fun atmosphere with a beautiful scene of Lake Michigan while you listen and watch

Not much going on for the summer yet, but maybe I’ll see you out there!



3.3.13 – Marimba & Voice Album/Mike Neumeyer Review by Graham Marlowe

I, Mike Neumeyer, am proud to present the beautiful and talented writing of Graham Marlowe; depicting my own “Assorted Mallets” – one of the few albums that exist with solo works for marimba and voice.  Another album is definitely on the books for the future, so keep the radar out for more recordings from Mike Neumeyer & Friends.

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Album Review: “Assorted Mallets: Selections by Michael Neumeyer”

Written by Graham Marlowe
On a clear day, you can see forever…or so goes the title of that jazz song/musical. Milwaukee-area percussionist/composer Michael Neumeyer, a native of Port Washington, would know exactly what this phrase means…especially since the vast, seemingly endless shores of Lake Michigan are something he grew up sincerely appreciating.

And while that heavenly sky-blue horizon doesn’t always fit the character of Neumeyer’s music, it makes for a uniquely soothing backdrop to the strongest compositions of the composer’s mostrecent compilation, Assorted Mallets: Selections by Michael Neumeyer.

Despite drawing heavy influence(s) from jazz, progressive rock, and avant-classical music, Neumeyer’s compositions have a dreamy, almost hypnotic quality that blurs the line between jazz and classical in ways most ears are unaccustomed to. This is especially true of his marimba/voice songs, a genre so rare you’d think he created it based on his songs’ lulling beauty.

Replete with percussive ostinato patterns, reflective lyrics, and icy-hot modal motifs, the songs’ omega points often arrive when Neumeyer’s calming voice harmonizes gently yet powerfully with the slight dissonance resonating from the wooden bars beneath him. Tracks like “Night of Mourning” and “Freezing Snow”, positively speaking, would sound somewhat lost in time to a modern audience.

Such tracks evoke images of Victorian parlors and 19th-century American short stories with their minor-key themes and meditative poetry regarding “forgetfulness divine” (“The Power of Music”) and the “silent conversation[s]” of his past (“Years of Silence”). Neumeyer’s lyrics are not ancient poetry, but their enlightened viewpoint — combined with his command of the instrument — makes for an unusual, frequently arresting result.

At worst, tracks like “Flying Dreams” are a right-field blend of Disney, Chinese classical and video game music that’s as accessible as it is memorable. In others, like in the East-meets-West modality of “The Power of Music”, Neumeyer’s melismatic vocals are followed by a segment showcasing his chops as an improviser. Those with a thirst for the experimental will appreciate the intro to “Years of Silence”, wherein the composer combines a spacy/humorous Vibratone improv with Gregorian chant technique, and then segues into a subdued Latin groove.

The marimba/voice pairings are certainly Neumeyer’s specialty, but Assorted Mallets whisks listeners away in a variety of ways, thanks to his other talents as an instrumentalist

A tour de force for the compilation, the masterful solo vibraphone of “Skies of a Landless Horizon” is sure to lower the blood pressure of even the most impatient listener. The track’s simple, Impressionism brings to mind Keith Jarrett’s immaculate, all-improvised Koln Concert from 1975 as Neumeyer slowly builds a gorgeous, sometimes cinematic canvas of sound…coaxing the instrument’s vibrato wheel and forming a balmy, harmonious haze. Needless to say, after three deceptively short minutes the listener hungers for more.

At times the music graces the edge of kitsch, though it is always in good fun. For instance, “Jazz or Jass” and “June” — mostly-improvised jazz combo pieces — would sound right at home with the deftly-arranged, mostly unserious world of ‘70s TV themes. Conversely, “Beatboxin’ It” is a spitting image of the Phish catalog’s beloved, vaguely psychedelic a cappella oddities — a guilty pleasure for nearly any music fan, with an emphasis on pleasure.

This collection may not represent the extent of Neumyer’s talent(s), though it’s a worthwhile introduction to the composer’s stylistic diversity and ambitions.

The music’s back-and-forth oscillations from melancholic introspection to blissful joy are often and varied, minus how the composer’s brand of bone-dry humor is more a feature of his live performances than his recordings.

Neumeyer, like much of the up-and-coming talent today, sounds best suited for the mid-to-late ‘70s: an era where jazz and classical world began an ugly affair that spawned a series of commercially viable weirdness.

2.8.13 – Two Thousand Thirteen Has Started!

Looking forward to 2013 here… oh my gosh it already started!

Mike Neumeyer will be making an appearance at Lincoln Elementary School in March of 2013!  It is going to be so much fun to make those kids laugh and experience a marimba!

Spring Green Comm Library 7-18-12 (4)

Also coming up are performances with Knightwind Ensemble and Racine Choral Arts.

Furthermore, 2013 has the second annual Voirimba! (fundraiser for Oak Creek High School Marching Knights) and of course Mike Neumeyer & Friends #8!

More will build up and I will keep you updated – BOOM 2013.

12.1.12 – New Website

This is the new website in design!  It will be a project that will take a while… (maybe some people won’t even read this…) 🙂

November was fun – I performed with the Knightwind Ensemble and at MAC&A #5!  The Knightwind ensemble is a very talented group of players dedicated to the best of wind ensemble literature.


MAC&A#5 is the fifth meeting of a group of composers in Milwaukee – check us out!


I am still working on compositions and recordings.  Folks have been contacting me for composition reasons which keeps me happily busy!  Keep a lookout for new pieces and more availability!


10.16.12 – October: I want to carve a pumpkin :)

Check out this video from this summer of my amazing accordion player/friend: Robert Sacharski! (WARNING: starts with lame joke by me)


Marching season has come to an end and the Oak Creek Marching Knights absolutely ROCKED!  (to me that means they played very musically and got into it!)

I am still working on a clarinet/flute duet for the up and coming duo: The Duetto Project.  Check them out!


I am also working on a marimba/strings/voice work for the East Side Chamber Players!

Check them out!


I am playing with the Knightwind Ensemble and we will be playing at the WMEA Convention in Madison on October 25th.  Check us out!


Mike Neumeyer: Composer, Educator, Percussionist, Marimba & Voice