Big Mike’s love and isolation

Big Mike’s love and isolation

Mike Elrington is a big man, in stature and opinion.

As one of nearly a hundred acts descending on the city next week for the second annual Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival, Elrington is known for playing from the heart and shooting from the hip.

Over the past decade this dapper giant’s passion for tunes and travel remains undiminshed, despite his deep misgivings for some aspects of the music industry.

“I know I’ll probably lose a bit of ‘street cred’ for saying this, but at the end of the day, the music that achieves the most amount of success is not often great music,” he says.

“It is just the music that is sold and marketed in the most effective way. And because of the way most of us are programmed to think, we naturally just assume that if it’s popular, then it’s good.

“If only the powers that be in today’s music business could re-discover the fine art of ‘discovering’ great music before it’s popular, then things might be different.

“But hey, when I get 10,000 people liking my facebook page and 400 people paying to see me play, they might start returning my calls. End rant.”

While Elrington’s talent is beyond debate, he admits it’s been difficult to break out amongst a vibrant Melbourne music scene.

“The music scene here is extremely competitive so therefore it is harder to stand out and make a name for yourself,” he says.

“But that really comes down to you and how hard you want to work from a business and promotional perspective with your music.”

Elrington has never been shy to put himself out there, and distance has never been an issue for accepting a gig, but his insatiable wanderlust has come at a high personal cost.

“I’m always drawn to those far-away places for some reason,” he says of some of his most remote gigs, like a recent one up the Pilbara.

“(But) if I don’t tour, I don’t survive from music, it’s that simple really. (And) it can be extremely difficult to maintain a relationship with so much touring.

“I have two failed engagements to prove this, but I really think it comes down to the chemistry of the couple in that relationship.”

It might be a case of third time lucky though. Elrington has since found a “supportive partner who understands the importance of touring, in what I do”.

“I guess I’m used to it all now (being alone on the road), but there are always periods of loneliness and isolation which can be difficult to deal with at times,” he says.

“But then I just remind myself that ‘Hey, I’m out seeing the world getting paid to do what I love to do and am always meeting interesting people along the way’, so I guess that makes it all worth it.

“And I was never very good at staying in the one place holding down a 9-5 job, seeing the same people and surroundings everyday. I’m usually happy in my own company.

“I try to rope people in to come with me but as always, their ‘real jobs’ kinda get in the way…”

Mike Elrington plays the Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival on November 8-11.

Hear the latest album from Mike Elrington’s band The Advocates at