Mike West's skills on stringed instruments like the banjo, mandolin, and guitar have won him a loyal base of fans and three consecutive awards from Offbeat Magazine for the title of Best Country/Folk Artist beginning in 1995. The magazine also honored West in 1996 for Best Folk Album, a title he earned again the following year. The Big Easy Entertainment Awards also have conferred honors on him. In addition to his playing, his lyrics are memorable as they revolve around characters that are as alive as the flesh-and-blood people he draws on for his writing. Binky Records, a label based in Baton Rouge, LA, put out six albums from West over a period of five years. Tours have taken him throughout Australia, Europe, and North America. Frequently he is accompanied by and collaborates with spouse Myshkin, although each pursues a separate career.
West is an Australian by birth who grew up in the U.K. His first professional music group was the Man From Delmonte in the 1980s. The band was based in Manchester and included Howard Goody, Martin Vincent, and Shiela Seal. He led the cult band for about ten years, weathering a bout of legal wrangling brought about by Delmonte Fruits over what the company saw as the injury inflicted on the image of its goods by the campy band. Australia banned the group, which sang about bisexuality and transvestites in tunes that included "One Day My Prince Will Come" and "Batchelor Flat Affairs." After leaving the Man From Delmonte, West headed to New Orleans in the early '90s and laid down his electric guitar in favor of picking a banjo. He found an instrument in one of the city's pawnshops, plunked down his 100 dollars to make it his own, and started gigging at nightspots in the famed Vieux Carre. He resides in the Crescent City's Ninth Ward, not far from where Fats Domino used to live, and draws inspiration from tales shared by neighbors. Among his recording credits are Soul's Core from Shawn Mullins and albums by Kirk Rundstrum and Chuck Brodsky. ~ Linda Seida