MIKE STETSON Guitar Instructor/ Show Director/ Rock 101 Director

mike_with_teleMike Stetson is a guitarist, singer, songwriter, and music teacher. He was born in Massachusetts and raised in New Hampshire. Mike began playing guitar at age nine and his passion has never ended. While still in high school Mike studied with Vermont jazz guitarist Draa Hobbs, who gave him a solid foundation in music theory and technique. Although he studied jazz in his lessons, Mike’s real passion was for the classic rock ‘n’ roll of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Van Halen, Rush and many others, and Mike spent countless hours dissecting his favorite records, learning the riffs and solos of his favorite players. After high school, Mike attended Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where he pursued a degree in guitar performance.  After college, he made his living playing and singing in local rock bands and teaching guitar. His first big opportunity came when he joined the New Hampshire country-rock band Tracy and Company, a female-fronted band with which Mike opened shows for some of country music’s biggest acts, including the Charlie Daniels Band, Sawyer Brown, and Terri Clark. Tracy and Company also played a wide variety of venues all over New England, everything from clubs and bars to fairs and festivals.

When Tracy and Company disbanded, Mike and some of his former band mates joined Rio Drive, a high energy country-rock band that was an up-and-coming act on the country circuit in its own right, and was also the backup band for Rockabilly Hall-of-Famer Big Al Downing, best known for his hit songs “Mr. Jones,” “Touch Me” and “The Story Behind the Story.” With Rio Drive, and with Big Al, Mike spent five years touring the U.S. and Canada, playing everything from clubs and casinos to some of country music’s biggest festivals, sharing stages with such greats as Lorrie Morgan, Ronnie Milsap, Neal McCoy, Confederate Railroad and the Marshall Tucker Band. With Big Al Downing, Rio Drive also played on a number of television shows, and was one of the first bands to play a live concert on XM Satellite Radio. With both Tracy and Company and Rio Drive, Mike not only handled the country “chicken pickin’ “ lead licks, he was also both bands’ resident “rock guy,” bringing an edge and a recklessness to each band that set them apart from other acts on their circuit.

In the summer of 2005, mentor and friend Big Al Downing passed away and shortly thereafter, Rio Drive parted ways. Mike returned to teaching guitar, teaching both private lessons and group classes to children, teens and adults. Mike also rejoined his old friends in Tracy and Company, playing local weekend shows throughout New England. At one of these shows, Mike met his now-wife Kelda. The two were married in 2010, and in 2011, they relocated from New Hampshire to Maryland, where Mike is pursuing new musical endeavors and has begun teaching guitar at the DC School of Rock. Mike and Kelda are now enjoying life in the Washington, D.C. area, along with their three dogs, Bruschi, Molly and Dolce.