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Mike Bones is the not-so-secret identity of guitarist and songwriter Mike Strallow; as Strallow, he's established himself as one of the top guitarists on the New York underground/independent scene for his work with Soldiers of Fortune, Damon McMahon, Lizzie Trulie, and the Mighty Flashlight, while under the name Mike Bones he's stepped out as a solo artist, recording his own songs, which allow him to show another side of his musical personality. Born in 1980 and raised in New Jersey, Strallow began learning to play guitar when he was six years old, but he didn't have an instrument of his own until he was ten. Strallow he got his first Gibson Les Paul electric guitar from his father, who picked it up at work and brought it home as an inducement to do better in school (though Strallow admits that it was handed over to him when he graduated despite his poor marks). In his late teens, Strallow moved to New York City and began immersing himself in the city's music scene while honing his guitar technique. Strallow had been playing guitar with a handful of groups before he began taking his first steps as a songwriter, influenced by American roots artists such as Skip James and Hank Williams as well as the angst-filled confessions of Leonard Cohen. Strallow started putting his songs to tape during a stay in Memphis with friends from the band Lucero, but these early sessions went unreleased and it was in the summer of 2006 that Strallow began serious work on his first full-length album. Setting up at a Brooklyn recording studio owned by members of the band Oneida, Strallow's sessions included appearances by Parker Kindred of Antony and the Johnsons, Patrick Sullivan of Oakley Hall, El-P sideman Wilder Zoby, and Brad Truax of White Magic and Home; for these recordings, Strallow purposefully deemphasized his guitar work in order to give his lyrics greater room to tell their stories. Rather than release the project under his own name, Strallow used the moniker Mike Bones, a nickname from his childhood, and the first Mike Bones album, The Sky Behind the Sea, was released by the independent label The Social Registry in the fall of 2007.
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