Bluegrass musician’s new album includes ‘Living in Sarnia’ single

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley (left) with Sarnia bluegrass musician Mike Stevens filming a music video for Stevens' latest record, "Breathe In the World, Breathe Out Music", outside Sarnia City Hall. July 2020. (Photo from Bradley's Twitter)

A well-known Sarnia bluegrass musician has been filming a music video around the city, highlighting attractions, hot spots and local celebrities, ahead of his latest record release.

Mike Stevens said “Breathe In the World, Breathe Out Music” will feature Sarnia-Lambton musicians, producers and even politicians, along with a single titled “Living in Sarnia”.

“So we’re hitting various locations around the city and having a lot of cameos from folks that people would know: we did the first part of the shoot with mayor Mike Bradley; he was awesome.”

Stevens, an award-winning harmonica player who released his first solo album in 1990, said he started recording his most recent album last year.

“The idea was to record something that came directly from Sarnia: included Sarnia musicians, recorded in Sarnia,” said Stevens. “It was recorded with Mike McKyes at The Grove Productions, and the people on it, Jeff Getty, an old friend playing guitar, Art Hratchian, Corey James Mitchell sings on a couple of songs, Polly Harris sings on a song, and then some other longtime friends: Kevin Breit, he plays with Norah Jones, and Jeff Bird from the Cowboy Junkies, are all on the record.”

Stevens said he’s been spending a lot more time in Sarnia during the COVID pandemic, adding the release date for the record is a moving target.

“It’s really hard to gauge how to release any kind of music right now in order for it to get some kind of visibility. In the old days, you’d put out a record and you’d tour it and that’s how you’d promote it, but now with COVID and the days of social media and social distancing, you can’t do it the same way.”

Stevens said some people might say Sarnia is a small town that isn’t connected to the music industry, but he believes the city is a pretty cool place to be a musician.

“You can develop your own style sort of uninfluenced by other things here, and there’s really a supportive, wonderful art scene here of musicians and artists, and there’s opportunities to play all over the place.”