Album Premiere: Mike Mangione & The Union, Red-Winged Blackbird Man

Mike Mang
Mike Mangione & The Union spent two weeks recording their last album, Offering. When it came time to track some new songs for their upcoming Red-Winged Blackbird Man, though, the folk-rock band worked even quicker, finishing the whole thing — from the orchestral swells of opening track “Fields of Evermore” to the frenetic, full-throated closer, “Dreams of Home Once Again” — in two and a half days. Bo Ramsey produced those sessions, adding Red-Winged Blackbird Man to a roster that includes Americana classics like Lucinda Williams’ Essence.

“For many years, the band has used the image of the phoenix as our symbol, and in some way our mascot,” says Mangione, who launched his career as a solo artist before adding strings, lead guitar, and a rhythm section to his sound. “The phoenix has often been associated with resurrection, rebirth, and forward momentum. These are powerful words and conjure different emotions for different people. For me, it generated a firm foothold in hope, despite the carnage and despair often thrown at one’s feet.”

“In the music world alone all is against you. Artists are fueled by their passion for the craft and desire to communicate their heart to others but often are met with rejection and indifference. The phoenix has been an icon for us to look beyond the friction at our feet and towards the hopeful sky above. This imagery has come in handy at many dirty motels and rapacious venues. Red-Winged Blackbird Man took on a variation on this theme. It still rests in hope and fulfillment, but rather than the resurrected, it starts with the broken. Some songs are moments before the fall, some suspended in it, some stepping out of it, but all songs resonate the pieces of a broken spirit. Being a Chicago boy, the blues are in my bones. I’m not the Howlin’ Wolf, I’m not the little red rooster, nor am I Tom Wait’s crow; I’m the red-winged blackbird man. A simple, carnal creature with a little blood-red on its wings, ever present in the fall and spring — at least in the Midwest.”

Listen to Red-Winged Blackbird Man below.