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Mike Cross is one of folk music's most energetic performers. From the time he hits the stage to his closing tune, Cross serves up a turbocharged collection of humorous songs, sensitive ballads, Will Rogers-like tales, Delta blues, and Appalachian and Celtic fiddle tunes. During his shows, Cross switches effortlessly between fiddle and acoustic six-string and 12-string guitars.
Cross had little interest in music until his junior year at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Although he grew up in the backwoods of Tennessee, a region known for its storytellers and songwriters, Cross was more concerned with golf, a game he had played from the age of ten. Things changed, however, when a snowstorm forced Cross to stay overnight at a friend's dormitory room. As it turned out, his friend's roommate played guitar, and over the next two days, Cross learned to play chords and his first songs. While he temporarily continued his academic pursuits, attending law school for two years, Cross was drawn more and more to music. He debuted one of his early compositions, "Yo Down Fiddler," on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on CBS.
Cross' first three albums — Child Prodigy, The Bounty Hunter, and Born in the Country — made him a fixture on the Southern folk circuit. His fourth album, Rock 'n' Rye, was produced by Steve Burgh, Rolling Stone magazine's producer of the year, in 1980. A live album, Live & Kickin', followed a year later.
Cross has garnered most of his attention for his humorous songs. He poked fun at Southern hillbilly culture with such tunes as "Mountain Mean," "Liquor in the Well," "Rocky Top Bar-B-Que," and "Elma Turl." His song "The Scotsman," which explains what a Scotsman wears under his kilt, was covered by Bryan Bowers and regularly aired on the Doctor Demento radio show. A collection of fourteen of Cross' funniest songs were compiled on Creme de la Cross: Best of the Funny Stuff in 1994.
However, not all of Cross' songs aim at the tickle bone; "Leon McDuff" was performed by the Dirt Band as the theme song of Farm Aid, "Twelve Disciples" has been used in Sunday schools as an aid to learning the names of the Apostles, and "Not for the Love I Can Take" is a romantic masterpiece.