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Michael Packer is an American singer-songwriter,
guitarist and Blues Hall Of Fame inductee who was born in New York City in
1950. He did his first gig at the Bitter End in Greenwich Village at the age
of 15. In 1969 he formed the group 'Papa Nebo" which included saxophonist
Bob Mintzer who went on to play with the Grammy award winning "Yellowjackets".
Papa Nebo recorded an album for Atlantic records. They were personally
signed by Ahmet Ertegun.Today it is a collectors item.
Packer soon took his sound to the West Coast with buddy Sandy Allen, playing on the streets of San Francisco during the day and The Coffee Gallery in North Beach at night, Michael met George Thorogood and was turned on to the blues.
Eventually Packer and Allen made their way back to New York where they started another project "Free Beer"."Free Beer" was born at Gerdes Folk City in Greenwich Village (1973) where they added singer-songwriter Bob Potter. Free Beer recorded 3 albums for Buddha and RCA records and toured extensively with the likes of the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Johnny Rivers, Dr. Hook, Clifton Chanier to name a few. All of the albums made the Billboard top 100 and they were well on their way. But nothing lasts forever in the music industry and Free Beer broke up.
After the demise of Free Beer in the late 70's Michael opened for John Hammond Jr. and sang with the Matt Murphy Band. In 1984 in Boston he fronted a 10 piece band called "Coolstep" and opened for Huey Lewis on a New England Tour. After dropping out of the music scene in the late 80's and early 90's Michael Packer hit the skids. His drinking had escalated and he found himself living on the streets. He did a year in Rikers Island for attempted robbery but that seemed to be the turning point in his life. Even in prison he had a band. HBO did a special "The Prisoners of Rikers Island in which he appears.
Michael Packer has been sober 18 years now and life is good especially his music. He has become a well known and respected member of the New York City Blues scene. The Michael Packer Blues Band has received rave reviews in Living Blues, Blues Matters, Blues Revue magazines for the live @ Sweet Rhythm album (Woodstock Records). A Best of Michael Packer has been released and also reissues of his earlier recordings Papa Nebo and Free Beer. Packer also released a solo album "The Sunny Side of Me" in 2007 featuring lyrics for the title song by a 8 year old girl from Albany NY named Gabby Kasper. Later that year Packer and his band with special guests Jimmy Vivino, David Maxwell, Sandy Allen, Dave 'Snakeman' Runyan and Felix Cabrera recorded a live session @ Lucilles (BB King's) NYC . All of these recordings were released by Alan Lorber's Iris Music Group. A Michael Packer anthology was also released in 2008. In 2009 and 2010 Michael Packer was a semi-finalist in the solo/duo competition @ the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and the Iris Music Group released the CD "Rikers Island Blues" which included liner notes by Blues Wax editor Don Wilcock and was awarded best self-produced CD by The Jersey Shore Blues & Jazz Foundation.
Michael Packer recently found a new home with the Chicago blues label Blue Skunk Music who released his 2010 CD "Free Beer" and as a result of this he met Michael Frank "Honeyboy" Edwards manager and CEO of Earwig Music. Michael Frank presented Packer with the opportunity and the honor of playing 2nd guitar and touring with the late great 2 time Grammy award winner the legendary Delta blues guitarist David "Honeyboy" Edwards who knew and played along side Robert Johnson. They played their last gig together on April 16,2011 in Clarksdale MS. @ The Juke Joint Festival.
In 2011 The Iris Music group released a CD of unreleased 40 year old
Michael Packer Atlantic and RCA recordings called "My Time To Cry" and
received rave reviews. The latest recording "Live @ The Turning Point a
famous club in New York was just released digitally by Interscope Records.
Michael Packer was inducted into The Blues Hall Of Fame on September 25th, 2011.
1971 - PAPA NEBO (ATLANTIC RECORDS)
1975 - FREE BEER - (BUDDAH RECORDS)
1976 - FREE BEER HIGHWAY ROBERRY (RCA)
1977 - FREE BEER NOUVEAU CHAPEAU (RCA)
1983 - BLEECKER STREET/ I USED TO LIVE WITH YOU - SINGLE 45rpm (SHOESTRING RECORDS)
1994 - THE PRISONERS OF RIKERS ISLAND - HBO
2003 - NO USE RUNNING FROM THE BLUES (HALT MUSIC CO)
2004 - I'M IN LOVE - RED HOT BLUES (SILK CITY RECORDS) COMPILATION
2005 - BLEECKER-BOWERY - (HALT MUSIC)
2006 - CD REISSUES OF MICHAEL PACKER MUSIC (PAPA NEBO & FREE BEER) (IRIS MUSIC GROUP)
2006 - SWEET RHYTHM (SELF RELEASE)
2006 - THE BEST OF THE MICHAEL PACKER BLUES BAND - (IRIS MUSIC GROUP)
2006 - RUN WILD, SMILE IN THE SKY - I SEE THE TRACES OF THEE - COMPILATION WITH ORPHEUS, STEPHEN MARTIN, FRONT PAGE REVIEW, ALAN LORBER ORCHESTRA (IRIS MUSIC GROUP)
2007 = DROWNING IN A RIVER OF WINE -MICHAEL PACKER and SANDY ALLEN (IRIS MUSIC GROUP)
2007 - THE SUNNY SIDE OF ME - (SOLO ALBUM) (IRIS MUSIC GROUP)
2007 - BEATLES COVER ALBUM (IRIS MUSIC GROUP) COMPILATION WITH THE RAMRODS, ANTHONY NEWLY, ALAN LORBER ORCHESTRA. FEATURED HERE LENNON-McCARTNEY SONG ' I'VE JUST SEEN A FACE' PERFORMED BY MICHAEL PACKER & FREE BEER.
2007 - DYLAN COVERS ALBUM (IRIS MUSIC GROUP) INCLUDES ' ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER ' FROM THE ' BLEECKER-BOWERY ' ALBUM.
2007 - LIVE @ LUCILLES NYC (IRIS MUSIC GROUP) - BLUES ALBUM WITH JIMMY VIVINO & DAVID MAXWELL.
2007 - MICHAEL PACKER - SANDY ALLEN REUNION - LIVE @ LUCILLES NYC (IRIS MUSIC GROUP).
2007 - LIVE @ SWEET RHYTHM (WOODSTOCK RECORDS)
2008 - BLEECKER-BOWERY (RANDOM CHANCE) DISTRIBUTED BY CITY HALL
2008 - MICHAEL PACKER ANTHOLOGY (IRIS MUSIC GROUP)
2008 - PARADE OF BROKEN HEARTS - WALKING THE FLOOR (FREE BEER),STRAIGHT TO HER HEART (MICHAEL PACKER) ZANZIBAR & FINE TIME (FREE BEER) COMPILATION WITH CASS ELLIOT,PRISCILLA PRICE,TOMMY HUNT. (IRIS MUSIC GROUP)
2008 - JOYRIDE 2 DEAD AHEAD FREE BEER SONG COUPE DEVILLE (SANDY ALLEN) MOVIE SOUNDTRACK DISTRIBUTED BY 20TH CENTURY FOX HOME VIDEO.
2009 - RIKERS ISLAND BLUES (IRIS MUSIC GROUP)
2009 - BIG CITY RHYTHM & BLUES MAGAZINE SAMPLER #6 "BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG CITY".
2010 - THE MICHAEL PACKER BLUES BAND - FREE BEER (BLUE SKUNK MUSIC) DISTRIBUTED BY BURNSIDE.
2010 - WOODSTOCK SAMPLER - with GARTH HUDSON,NEW RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE,THE LATE RICK DANKO, THE CROWMATIX (WOODSTOCK RECORDS)
2010 - BEN & GONE - HALT MUSIC CO. 1989-2009 MICHAEL PACKER, CONTINENTAL DRIFTERS, SUSAN COWSILL, ABRA MOORE, TRISH MURPHY
2010 - BLUES FOR THE GULF COMPILATION - (VIZZTONE) - "PELICAN" WRITTEN BY MICHAEL PACKER. CD PRODUCED BY BOB MARGOLIN
2011 - BIG CITY BLUES SAMPLER #9 FEATURING THE SONG "PELICAN"
2011 - MY TIME TO CRY (IRIS MUSIC GROUP)
2011 - BEST OF FREE BEER (IRIS MUSIC GROUP)
2011 - EARLY BOB MINTZER (IRIS MUSIC GROUP)
2011 - BIG CITY BLUES SAMPLER #10 FEATURING THE SONG "SHE LEFT THIS MORNING"
2011 - LIVE @ THE TURNING POINT (INTERSCOPE)