Utilizing discarded cigar boxes, premium exotic hard woods and high quality accessories, Mike Snowden meticulously handcrafts his personal brand of unique 3 & 4 string electric cigar box guitars from his Marietta, GA workshop. Each of Mike’s handcrafted guitars is a “one of a kind” instrument possessing an original tone, feel and look. With over 1,400 guitars crafted to date, Mike’s love of music is built into each and every one. Whether you are a beginner or a long time picker these instruments are easy and fun to play providing hours of musical possibilities. If you are looking for a unique gift, a musician seeking inspiration or an individual choosing a new hobby Mike Snowden’s handcrafted cigar box guitars are a solid investment.
An established musician, Mike Snowden manned the bass guitar for over 20 years with various touring and studio bands. Traversing multiple countries he has shared the stage with the likes of The Indigo Girls, Joe Cocker, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Dave Matthews Band and many others. These days his musical career has shifted with the cigar box guitar becoming the focal point. In addition to his hand crafted instruments Mike has mastered the cigar box guitar creating a classic blues sound reminiscent of some of the greats that have faded into musical obscurity. Along with his “one man band” Mike has spread his musical gospel with live performances on television, appearances on the radio and a wealth of videos on YouTube with over half of a million views. This exposure has led to a steady flow of performances in the southeast expanding into NYC, Europe and music festivals such as South by Southwest.
Along with his busy schedule of music playing and guitar building Mike has been able to carve out enough time to release multiple albums that show off his masterful skills at manipulating a cigar box guitar.
Summer in the Fields – Cigar Box Guitar Instrumentals (2009)
A smoldering collection of original instrumentals, Mike shows off his attributes as he rolls through a collection of tunes ranging from sparse guitar centric numbers to ear blistering rockers built up with the addition of a complimentary rhythm section.
The Legend of Boondock Jones and His Faithful Cigar Box Guitar (2010)
With a kick drum and his signature cigar box guitar sound Mike takes the listener on a trip through the American South on a wave of soulful blues music. The ten original songs paint a picture of a musician traveling a weary road trying to earn a living with his tools of the trade; a simple three string cigar box guitar and his songs.
Cigar Box Guitar Stomp (2011)
Stripped to the bare essentials, Mike enlists producer Tim Tapley (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl jam, Sugarland) and the pair take his music into a much grittier direction. When Mike’s nasty cigar box guitar licks kick in it is hard not to imagine an old bluesman sitting on a dilapidated front porch picking and stomping.
Cigar Box Guitar Evil (2012)
With Tapley back in the producer’s chair Mike builds off of the dirty blues flavor of the previous album. The evolution of his song writing and cigar box guitar playing has broken new ground on songs loaded with fuzzy guitars and chunky bone rattling rhythms. This record successfully captures the energy Mike brings to his live shows.
One Man Cigar Box Guitar Band Live (2013)
Recorded from shows in NYC and Manchester UK, Mike has given listeners a cross section of his live shows. Manning the cigar box guitar, kick & snare drums as well as vocals you get to hear his music the way it was intended to be heard – loud and raw – as he burns through songs from his numerous albums.
Southern Cigar Box Guitar Thunder (2017)
Sometimes to get things done the way you want them you have to just do them yourself. When it comes to his music, that is exactly what Mike Snowden does. A staple of Atlanta music for many years, Snowden has long since ditched the band life for family life and making music his own way at his own pace. Delivering blues flavored gritty garage rock Snowden not only writes his own songs but plays them on meticulously hand-crafted cigar box guitars that he also builds. He has developed a niche following through live shows, local festivals and the internet where music lovers can not only buy his music but also his guitars.
With five albums already out in circulation, six if you count his 5-song sampler, Mike Snowden readies the release of new music. His upcoming record – Southern Guitar Box Guitar Thunder – is more of what folks love from Snowden. Recorded in New York and Atlanta, Snowden once again shows he is a master of the cigar box guitar. As he manipulates his self-made instruments Snowden tears through a collection of tunes that capture the rustic bluesy sounds of the South as well as the raw fuzzy vibe of dirty garage rock. He opens the album with the rocker “Mean on Gin” a rowdy tune about a woman that just gets mean & nasty when she drinks gin. With beer, wine and other libations she is good to go, but hide the gin. Singing about hard work and the railroad, the track “Working” chugs along complemented by some killer harmonica action. He slows things down a bit on the swampy “Southern Blues” then turns it up on the chugging “Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em”. Included in the mix are a series of instrumentals, “French Quarter Slide”, “Shred the Gnar” and “Reso Blues”. While each offers up something different they all showcase Snowden’s guitar playing skills. I was happy to see the album contain the first non-live version of “Where’s My Rooster”. The all out fuzzy blues tune is a staple of Snowden’s cigar box guitar career and gives listeners a taste of everything that is good about his music. My favorite track from the record has to be the brooding “Leave it All Behind”. Snowden turns up the nastiness with growling guitars and booming rhythms as he sings about skipping town with his woman.
Southern Cigar Box Thunder is Mike Snowden at his finest. From beginning to end the album never gets stale and may contain some of the best music he has ever released. If you want the same old polished music every outlet is cramming down the public’s ear holes then enjoy, but if you want to partake in something different, something organic and raw then dive into the music of Mike Snowden.
Falling in line with Nietzsche’s claim that “life without music would be a terrible mistake”, Mike Snowden’s life is music and cigar box guitars have given him a fresh outlook on life. By simplifying things he has opened up an entirely new sonic world for him to explore and experiment in. Through live shows, albums and his handcrafted cigar box guitars he is sharing this world with everyone who wants to listen, so come explore it with him.
(All of Mike Snowden’s music is available on iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby and snowdenguitars.com. Also check out snowdenguitars.com for instructional videos, apparel, Mike’s live performance schedule & events and some really cool cigar box guitars.)
-Written by Chris Martin