Mike Clayberg

bios_mike_largeA lifelong musician, Mike Clayberg has played many styles of music. From his punk days with Maleficeto the day when he cofounded Dead Men’s Hollow, music has always been a driving force in his life. Raised around the globe by two music-loving parents, Mike could only rebel against their chamber choirs and symphonies by listening to the Beatles and AC/DC. It was, however, his long childhood summers in Alabama which seemed to have sealed his musical fate. With not much to do, he listened to the radio, especially at night when the AM signals came in strong, carrying haunting voices singing ageless songs. It’s those same ageless songs that Mike enjoys playing and singing now, so the circle is indeed unbroken in that respect.

As a songwriter, Mike blends his many years of musical experience into songs that hark back to the old days while staying true to the complexities and concerns of modern life. The way he sees it, if one’s ancestors have tramped the rocky New England coasts, southern mountains, Tennessee foothills, and western prairies to the wide Pacific shore, traditional American music is woven into the DNA and the soul. This realization has led Mike to wholeheartedly embrace the americana music tradition with hopes of carrying it on to new generations through his work with Dead Men’s Hollow as well as his solo endeavors.

Mike studies guitar under Karl Straub and is learning the language of Maybelle Carter, Doc Watson, Norman Blake, John Hurt, Tony Rice, and occasionally, Clarence White. He is also inhaling and exhaling a whole mess of fiddle tunes. Mike plays a Martin D28, Johnson Tricone, and an early American guitar (Ashborn Model 2, ca. 1855) for Dead Men’s Hollow and can frequently be found singing high, lonesome harmony. Mike plays an assortment of other stringed instruments from baroque to modern and is currently studying viola da gamba under Dr. Tina Chancey.


The photographs on this page were taken by Brett Davis in the chapel and on the grounds of Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC.