Biography

There are a lot of guys out there who pass themselves off as blue-collar rockers, but Mike Stout is unquestionably the real thing.” – Scott Mervis, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Mike’s lyrics speak for the working class more than any other musician around today.” – Jim Jordon, Electric Pencil

In the Woody Guthrie tradition, his songs reflect contemporary issues without resorting to journalism. They’re more like partisan op-ed columns that grab political opponents by the throat and don’t let go.” – John Hayes, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

It’s high time to make the powers that be dance to a different tune and Mike has supplied the soundtrack for that mission. I believe music can be a driving force for change and I’m glad Mike Stout is behind the wheel.” – Paulo Freire of elecpencil.wordpress.com

Mike Stout is an internationally known socially conscious singer songwriter and in your face take charge social activist. Taking his music to the picket lines and protest rallies, Mike leads crusades against economic and environmental injustice calling people to action. Like his musical heroes Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger his songs urge people to unite in solidarity to fight for a better life and to fight for a world safe from war and environmental degradation. For more than three decades, Mike Stout has been writing, recording and performing songs that tell the stories of the working class heroes of U.S. labor history and their struggles for peace, social justice and a decent standard of living.

Working with all-star casts of nationally known Pittsburgh musicians and producers Mike has released 18 independent CDs and recorded over 150 songs. Mike Stout’s “Point of Pittsburgh”, “Americana Dreams” and “Breaking The Chains” CDs were named notable releases by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. His “Calling Steeler Nation” video was viewed over 120,000 times and was named “One of the best tributes I’ve ever seen to the borderless ‘nation’ of Steelers fans” by Dan Gigler in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette Blog-N-Gold. The song ‘People to People” from his “Full Circle” CD brought him to the attention of music fans in Germany.

Mike Stout has performed at concert halls, outdoor festivals, clubs, union conventions and schools across the United States and Europe. The highlight of his 2007 German tour was a concert at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate playing for thousands at the national protest day. Stout has appeared in Germany on eight concert tours and has performed in Paris, Denmark, Poland, and the Czech Republic with his message of human solidarity and peace.

On Sept 7, 2011 Mike was invited to perform in tribute to the 100th Anniversary of the birth of folk-singer Woody Guthrie at the PA Labor History Society concert held at the State Theater in State College, Pa. He performed with Noel Paul Stookey (of Peter, Paul, an Mary), Anne Feeney, and Si Kahn. The event was part of the national Grammy Awards Woody Guthrie celebration. Mike performed his ode to Woody “America’s Favorite Son”.

Stout performs in schools across Pennsylvania teaching students with his songs about the forgotten unsung heroes of history. They are people who fought for worker safety, the 8 hour work day, free speech, and freedom, but who are not mentioned in our school history books. They are working class organizers such abolitionist and renaissance man Martin Delany, the cotton mill women of the 1840’s, Crystal Eastman, Fannie Sellins, the workers of the Pressed Steel Car Strike in McKees Rocks, the union organizers of the New Deal, Father Charles Owen Rice, Captain Sean (George.) and the resisters of the plant shutdowns in the 1980’s. His message is that we should not take for granted the rights that they won for us.

As a union leader and social activist Mike Stout fought for improved worker safety and health, and came to the aid of the unemployed by helping to found food banks and economic development councils. As an environmentalist he works to educate the public on the dangers of global warming and fracking. Mike was one of the founding members of Pennsylvanians United For Single-Payer Healthcare (PUSH) and Healthcare4allPA that has been in the forefront in the fight for single-payer, universal healthcare. In Pittsburgh Stout fought the closing of the Braddock Hospital and successfully stopped the closing of trolley stops used by the elderly.
In 2007 the Pennsylvania Labor and History Society presented Mike Stout with the Mother Jones Award for his efforts as a social leader and as a performer who uses music to bring about change.

Mike was a blue collar steelworker and a union leader. Mike tells stories from his heart about people who are affected by unemployment, social injustice, environmental hazards, or war. Mike is not out to be a rich rock star. As he’s stated on numerous occasions,“the kind of ‘change’ I’m interested in ain’t coins or money, but social movements.”

Kentucky to New York City

Michael Stout was born to a large family of ten brothers and sisters in Kentucky. His father owned a print shop and taught his sons the business. Mike, with guitar in hand, made his way to New York City in 1968 and began his music career playing original protest songs at the Café Wa, the Bitter End, and the Gaslight.

Homestead Steeler and Grievance Man

In search of a steady living at a good wage Mike Stout moved to Pittsburgh in 1977 to become a steelworker at the great Homestead Works. He worked as a crane operator on the 100 inch and 160 inch mills. Mike was elected head grievance man of U.S Steel Workers Union Local 1397 representing 6,000 workers at the Homestead plant. U.S. Steel began to shut down parts of the mill in the 1980s. Whole groups of workers who were months short of qualifying for their 20-year early-retirement pensions were let go. Mike fought to win more than $10 million in lost wages, severance pay, pensions, and unemployment benefits for 3,000 displaced workers. He fought the closing of the steel mills of Western Pa and Eastern Ohio.

Steel Workers Benefit Concert

In the 1980’s most of the great steel mills in the Pittsburgh Tri-State area closed. Thousands were out of work with little hope of finding new jobs. The unemployment benefits of thousands of families ran out. They were losing their homes in foreclosure. Seven of Mike’s co-workers committed suicide and 60 friends died within four years of the plant closings. The people of the Mon Valley were going hungry.

Mike Stout, Local 1397, and Rick Granati of the Granati Brothers in April of 1982 organized a benefit concert at the Stanley Theater to aid the unemployed. The concert was covered by CBS, NBC, the AP, the UPI, the New York Times and the international press. National attention was drawn to the struggles of the unemployed steelworkers. Under pressure the county sheriff slowed home foreclosures. Unemployment benefits and job training were extended. The funds raised by the concert were donated to the newly formed Homestead Local 1397 Food bank. The hungry families of the Mon Valley were fed. The success of Homestead Food Bank led to the creation of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank which has been feeding the needy and unemployed of the Pittsburgh area for more than 25 years.

Social Action

Continuing his efforts to aid the unemployed Mike became a board member of Just Harvest, a founding board member of the Steel Valley Authority, and a founding member of the Tri-State Conference on Steel: all organizations that aided displaced workers and the poor. He met with Senators Heinz and Spector urging them to investigate American steel companies who were shutting down plants to import foreign made steel. Mike twice ran for state legislator narrowly loosing. In 1988 his lost by a mere 39 votes.

The doors of the historic Homestead Works were locked forever on April 1, 1987. Mike was the last steelworker out of the building. He struggled for two years to find work. With equipment donated to him by the Catholic Church and the steelworkers union, Mike went back to the printing skills that his father taught him. He opened Steel Valley Printers in 1989 as an employee-owned print shop on Eighth Avenue in downtown Homestead. The shop was located just 2 blocks from the former main entrance of the Homestead Works, and operated successfully for 25 years, serving area union, non-profits and the local community.

Forging a Music Career

During his after-work hours, Mike started writing songs again and began his recording career. Remembering the devastating effects that the steel mill closing had on his friends and co-workers, Mike wrote songs urging people to fight back in solidarity. Through his words and music Mike became known as “the world’s grievance man”. He took up the grievances of the working people urging them to stand up against the trampling of hard won labor rights and to resist the destruction of the environment from fracking and man-made climate change.

Working with producers Buddy Hall, Fred Nelson, and Matt Harrington, Mike has recorded and released 18 CDs. A host of talented performers has appeared on his recordings including Reb Beach(member of Winger and Alice Cooper), Pete Hewlett (vocalist/guitarist for Billy Joel, Novo Combo, Joe Jackson), Kenny Blake (Cabo Frio), Fred Nelson (toured with Paul Gilbert of Mr. Big), B.E. Taylor (MCA Records), Hermie Granati (A&M), Buddy Hall, and more. His music ranges from in your face Rock to fiddle- infused Americana, Folk, and Pop.

Mike Stout’s first CD’ “For Those Who Still DARE TO SPEAK OUT” was released in 1992 followed by “The Roaring Nineties” in 1995. In 1996 with his release of “Working Class Reminiscing and Visions,” he performed at the newly modernized Homestead Carnegie Library Hall. Stout launched his fifth CD “We Are The Human Union.” with a show a Rosebud in 1997. It is a mix of jazz, reggae and Latin sounds.

All Star Recordings

One of Mike’s best is the 1998 release “Full Circle”, an all-star production. Buddy Hall (of Sweet Lightning and Eric Carmen) produced the recording that featured guitar hero Reb Beach on the rousing rocker “Loose Cannon on the Loose” and B.E. Taylor singing with Mike on “Jesus is an Alien” an “Dance With Me”. Sax players Kenny Blake and Robbie Klein along with keyboardist Joe Monroe also appeared. The album included the song “People to People” that launched Stout’s music tours in Europe.

People to People in Europe

A Pitt graduate student took the ‘Full Circle” CD to the People to People book store in Germany and played them Mike’s song “People to People”. Impressed with Mike’s message and music the book store stocked Mike’s CDs and sponsored his concert tours in Germany and Poland. On his eight tours Mike has performed in the German cities of Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Schweinfurt, Augsburg, Karlsruhe, Leipzig, Essen, Witten, Duisburg, Halle, Drenkow and Geisenkirchen. Stout has performed for thousands at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and the Whitsun Youth Festival. Thousands of his CDs have been sold in Germany. In 2014, he performed in France, including at packed house club in the heart of Paris.

More All Star CD Releases

“Working Infinity … Love from the Bottom,”, Stout’s sixth album release in 2001 features another all-star cast of Pittsburgh rockers including guitarist Reb Beach (Winger, Alice Cooper), producer/guitarist Buddy Hall, B.E. Taylor, Kenny Blake, world class singer Pete Hewlett and Jeff Thurston. Singing with passion Mike attacked retail companies that sell products made in sweatshops in his song “Armies of the Working Class Poor” . Reb Beach’s great guitar riffs and solo set the angry tone of “Complacency City”,

In 2002 Stout released “The Human Spirit Will Prevail” with the outstanding track “Big Time Corporate Blues”. A blues rock tune it featuring pianist Hermie Granati (of the Jaggerz, B.E. Taylor, & the Granati Bros.) on a classic riffing piano solo. It was a hit on the Internet, garnering a “Track of the Day” award from Garage Band.com and thousands of plays on internet radio stations.

The voices of Mike Stout and Pete Hewlett blend together in the rich five part Doo Wop harmonies of his song “Do It With Love” from Mike’s 2005 release “Heroes of History”. The Americana style ode to Mike’s native state “Kentucky” is featured on his 2006 CD release “Soldiers of Solidarity”.

Notable Releases

Mike’s 7th CD release in 2007 “Breaking the Chains” features he gentle anti-war song “Time to Break the Chains”, “Heaven’s Mist” a Simon & Garfunkel-like ode to the Appalachian Mountains and “Hard Times Are Fightin’ Times,” a country blues tune about the battles of the working man. Guitarist Fred Nelson produced and performed on the album. Scott Mervis of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette said the album was one of the notable Pittsburgh CDs of the year.

The Point of Pittsburgh

Scott Mervis of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette named “The Point of Pittsburgh” as one of the 10 biggest local rock stories of 2008.

The ‘Point of Pittsburgh’ CD, a birthday gift to the people of Pittsburgh on its 250th anniversary is an album of songs that celebrates the people in Pittsburgh’s history who fought for their rights. It was inspired by historian Charles McCollester’s book of the same name. Celebrated are abolitionist Martin Delany, boxer Billy Conn, labor leaders Fannie Sellins, The Cotton Mill women, Crystal Eastman, Monsignor Charles Owen Rice and Sean George. The McKees Rocks strike of 1909 is remembered in “Blood on the Rocks” and glory days of Homestead are recalled in the Americana tune “Homestead Town”. The international brother and sisterhood of Steeler fans is celebrated in the rocker “Calling Steeler Nation”

Americana Dreams and In Your Face

Scott Mervis named Mike’s Stout’s 2010 release “Americana Dreams” one of the notable CDs of the year. The album features “29 Miners Buried and Gone” the story of the 29 miners killed at the Upper Big Branch mine told to keep alive the fight to strengthen and enforce mine safety laws.

Mike’s 2012 CD “In Your Face” is his 13th release. In the rock anthem Stop the Frack Attack Mike calls on citizens to join the anti-fracking movement spreading across Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia. We Will Occupy is Stout’s salute to the anti-capitalist/big bank movement. In the song The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, he honors the women and men whose tragic deaths led to worker safety laws that we take for granted today. Mike honors the working class heroes Woody Guthrie in America’s Favorite Son (ode to Woody Guthrie) and in the song Old Warrior he pays tribute to Youngstown writer and activist, Staughton Lynd. We Are Alive, is Mike’s ode to the courageous citizens who fought the shutdown of the Braddock Hospital.

Time To Build a New World

In 2013, at the pinnacle of his songwriting mania, Mike released his 14th CD, “Time To Build a New World,” topped off with a cover drawing by a 10-year fan in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. His opening salvo, Where Is the Soul of America, which shot to number two on the internet folk charts, calls on his fellow countrymen and women to resurrect the spirit and grit that gave us all the freedoms and justice fought so hard for over the past 200 years. His anthem call to ‘Build a New World’ is followed by glowing tributes to friend Charlie McCollester (Travelin’ Man) and local artist extraordinaire, Bill Yund (He Paints a Picture for Our Hearts.) His Santana-esque Alien Nation calls on our youth to rise above the machines to regain their humanity.

Along with the release back in 1995 of a compilation of family songs performed by his dad in honor of his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, in 2015 and 2016 Mike released 2 compilation CDs of his greatest hits – both personal and love songs, as well as his standard working class rock anthems.

Blue and Green – In Black and White

In 2016, Mike released his 18th CD, with a rousing release party at the postal Carrier’s Union Hall on the north side of Pittsburgh. The CD opens with the rockabilly, One Day Longer, long a rallying cry for organized labor and a staple slogan on picket lines, strikes and lockouts,This song reflects his basic strategy for life: no matter what you are up against, no matter how bad the odds, outlast them!  Pick yourself up and fight the good fight. With his environmental anthem, Stand Up – the Water’s Running Out, Mike calls on his fellow citizens to rise up and protect the sustenance of all life – our rivers, streams and oceans.

Next up is is his Irish bar rouser, One Big Union. Borrowing from the philosophy and slogan of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) a century ago, the fingers of our many movements and struggles – from the fight for a living wage and real economic justice and equality, to ‘Black Lives Matter,’ to the fight for a clean and safe environment – Mike calls on these struggles to join together into one mighty fist, from the bottom up.  In songs like, Terry Greenwood and First Responders, Mike captures the spirit, the fight and the ultimate tragedy of working-class heroes. Mike is a vivid narrator and an accomplished musician who gives energy to lives filled with a search for justice. He does this with anything from a blues, jazz, rock and Celtic backdrop. With another rocker, Keep ‘Em Safe and Alive, safety and health on the job has been a theme of more than a dozen of his songs over the past 30 years.  For those who must endure the harsh and dangerous elements working outside, he puts out the call to all to be extra careful in those areas where workers on our highways must endure the hardships of the outside elements; and for those who can’t – ‘ quadruple the fines, beef up the laws.’ With the jazzy blues tune, Under the Table, he reminds us that with the dawn of deindustrialization and the dismantling of our manufacturing base in the 1970’s, up through the economic collapse of 2007-09, millions of Americans have been reduced to working multiple minimum wage jobs, and working in the underground economy. As he has done on numerous past CDs, his country rocker, Rosie the New Riveter, salutes working women and one of the boldest, hardest working organizers to come out of Western PA –  former SEIU Local union President, Rosemary Trump.  In her heyday in the 1970s-90s,  she brought more than 10,000 workers into her union, and gave a home and support to numerous social causes. In yet another anthem rocker, Health Care Is a Human Right, he reminds us that the USA is the only advanced, industrialized  country that does not guarantee universal and affordable health care for all its citizens.  With this rock anthem,he joins presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, and the majority of the American people who favor a government-sponsored system that provides new and improved ‘medicare for all.’

As on numerous other CDs, he pays tribute to his wife, Stephanie, with You’re Never Gonna Fall, As Long As You’re Holding On To Me. After catching her from ‘slipping on the ice’ one cold winter morning, he penned this old-fashioned love song in Nashville, Johnny Cash fashion. For Mike, love and solidarity are interchangeable, and the sustenance for our personal and social survival. His 18th CD is rounded off by I’m So Happy Just To See You Alive, saluting those still listening, still rocking and fighting the good fight. Once you make it past the half-century mark, you start losing friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers by the droves.  Every day he awakes, and doesn’t see any one he knows in the obits, it’s a victory.

Workers Memorial Day

For 12 years in a row, Mike Stout performed at the annual Workers Memorial Day at Market Square in Pittsburgh on April 28, the date when unions of the Pittsburgh area honor the workers who are killed on the job. Each year in America 5,000 to 6,000 workers are killed due to unsafe working conditions. The fight for enforcement of worker safety laws is a continuing battle.

As we enter perilous times economically, politically and globally, one thing you can bet on is that Mike Stout will be there, guitar in hand, singing on picket lines, at demonstrations and rallies, living his music, “…rock until you drop, don’t ever stop ’til you run out of gas.”