May 10, 2007


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Finger work
Guitarist Whitney lives for an open mike
By Erica Febre

Michael Whitney, a 23-year-old guitar player living in Manchester, has only one thing on his mind — the next open mike.

“If I had to sling pizza for the rest of my life, just to keep playing open mikes, then that’s exactly what I’d do. At least I’d still be doing what I want to do the most, which is play,” Whitney said.

With his own amp and equipment in tow, Whitney shows up to play an open mike like he’s showing up to play a full set. But the guitar brings to Whitney’s life more than just music.

“It kind of saved me, gave me something to do with myself that would keep me out of teenage troubles. I wanted to learn how to play ’cause I had nothing else to do, living in a log cabin up in the mountains. We didn’t even have a TV. It’s pretty rugged up there,” Whitney said.

Whitney learned how to play the guitar at 19, about five years ago.

“Everybody that I see playing around here is still using a pick to play. My music is up there with people that are playing finger-style, like Eric Clapton. Some songs you can’t even play unless you know how to play finger-style,” Whitney said.

Whitney attributes his finger-style abilities to the fact that he was classically trained on the guitar, which, he claims, makes all other styles much easier to handle.

“It’s very hard to play finger-style but the advantage is you get a cleaner sound. You can hit strings at the same time. Also, when you do a chord, you get a much faster, cleaner chord. You’re not just blamming away at strings,” Whitney said.

Whitney has a schedule of open mikes that he regularly plays and is also an upcoming featured artist with InTown’s Manchester’s “Buskers on the Bricks” series.

Although Whitney admits to being more of a guitar player than a singer, he does also sing while playing the guitar.

“I would rather my voice be raspy and clouded than try to sound the same as that same old, alternative voice. I don’t want to sound like every other singer tries to sound. I’m a folk guitarist, even though I like to play the electric. I admit that I sound better with my acoustic,” Whitney said.

At this point, Whitney has a handful of original songs and lyrics he works with, as well as a number of covers ranging from Radiohead to Clapton and Ricki Lee Jones, a new cover he’s in the process of learning.

Every Sunday
Who: solo guitarist and singer Michael Whitney
When: Friday, June 1, and Monday, July 2, at noon with Buskers; every Sunday at New Cheese Grill, Tuesdays at Milly’s Tavern, Wednesdays and Thursdays at Uptown Tavern.
Where: Buskers at City Hall Plaza; New Cheese Grill, 96 Hanover St.; Milly’s Tavern, 500 Commercial St.,; Uptown Tavern, 1301 Elm St., Manchester.
For more information: Although Whitney doesn’t have access to his MySpace account, songs are available for listening at Send e-mails and inquiries to or call 628-3621.