After a career that spans more than three decades, acclaimed singer / songwriter / guitarist PK Mayo is releasing his “coming-of-age” album, Simple Search For Truth. “This is different from all my other albums,” Mayo says. “It is a coming-of-age record because I went back to just doing something as bare bones and simple as I could do it. The songwriting has matured, and I think I have too.
“My earlier records didn’t have the focus on song-writing this one does” he continues. “It took me a long time to write these songs because I put a lot of thought into them. In the past I tended to use the lyrics as a bridge between solos.” Mayo laughs.
Indeed, with the release of Simple Search For Truth, Mayo delivers the most realized and satisfying album of his career. The eight original songs show the critically-acclaimed triple threat singer / songwriter / guitarist.
“Mayo is one of those very rare triple threats in the music world,” said Kevin Bowe, noted songwriter / producer / musician who has worked with the likes of Etta James, Paul Westerberg and the Replacements, and Johnny Lang, among others. “He is a truly great songwriter, a fantastic guitarist AND a crazy soulful singer. That is a very limited club that includes Lowell George, Stevie Ray Vaughn and VERY few others. He is equally gifted on stage or in the studio and I’ve had nothing but great times working with him over the years. “
Upon the recommendation of Noah Levy (Brian Setzer, Honeydogs) Mayo selected engineer Christopher Furst and headed into Studio 65 in Ham Lake, Minnesota. “I needed a fresh set of ears and perspective to my songs,” he says. “I wanted it to reflect my idea of making a guitar-based album. I needed an engineer who could do that for me, and Chris fit the bill perfectly.”
Mayo enlisted a top shelf group of musicians to work with him, including long-time band mate, John Wright (bass), while adding Steve Lehto (guitar, mandolin) and Noah Levy (drums, percussion) who sparked an infusion of new energy to the sessions. “Two guitars, bass and drums recorded in one room for most of the record. Simple, honest, or I could say we searched and found truth.” Mayo quipped.
“Mayo continues to write exceptional and mesmerizing songs that go deep,” said respected booking agent Molly Maher of Molly Maher Productions. “ Playing the blues from the inside out with music that bottles outlaw spirit with top shelf virtuosity. His range from fiery Texas-sized blues to cut-your-heart-open slide guitar with an endless driving groove comes from pro level experienced musicianship. When you want to impress a visiting musician, you take them to see PK Mayo!”
A native son of northern Minnesota, PK Mayo grew up in the mining town of Eveleth. From an early age, when he was known as Paul Kennedy Mayasich, he soaked up a wide range of diverse styles of music coming over the airwaves of the local college radio station, KUMD. He refers to those listening years as his college.
“Since the first time I heard Duane Allman’s intro to ‘Statesboro Blues’ on At Fillmore East by the Allman Brothers, I knew I wanted to play guitar,” he exclaims. When I was six or seven I ‘played’ my Mom’s broom with a 11/16 socket as my ‘slide’ to emulate another favorite, Lowell George.”
Mayo has spent the majority of his life following the muse of that sound while recording, gigging and stepping on stage 200+ nights a year.
He started gigging around his hometown as a teenager, playing in country, polka and rock cover bands. He moved to Minneapolis and sought the tutoring of seasoned R&B, soul, jazz and blues musicians. After a fair amount of jamming Mayo quickly fell into local bands and stepped out to front a few of his own.
He’s racked up a shelf of awards, including induction into both the Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame and the Minnesota Rock & Country Hall of Fame. While in Blue Chamber, the backing band of Big John Dickerson, he won the Minnesota Music Award for best blues recording for the song, Arms of the Blues, which, by the way, he wrote.
Along his musical journey, on stage or in the studio, Mayo has played behind a veritable who’s who of rock, blues and jazz royalty including Johnny Lang, Tracy Nelson, David Hidalgo (Los Lobos), Shannon Curfman, Dinah Washington, Jack McDuff, Terry Evans, Big Walter Smith, Bernard Allison, Leland Sklar and Mark Naftalin, to name a few. He’s traveled the world playing festivals, theatres, night clubs, concert halls and entertaining audiences from Greece to Belgium, from New York to San Francisco and all points in between. In recent years, Mayo has been the go-to slide guitarist for the Grammy winning Bowe.
Decades of touring and gigging has honed his guitar skills to a razor’s edge. Mayo’s abilities playing slide guitar (acoustic and electric) – his rare touch, feel and dynamism on the instruments combined with his accomplished original songwriting, and soulful vocals Mayo is the complete package. His music is an aural quilt built of what is today called the Americana genre: country, rock & roll, blues and folk, shaken and stirred into a satisfying musical brew.
With the release of Simple Search For Truth, Mayo’s standing as one of America’s great guitarists is again confirmed. That along with his songwriting is inviting a new generation of listeners to join one of his shows to witness the man doing what he does best: turning a nightclub, auditorium or festival on its ear while chasing that sound.