To say that Michael Ismerio is a jack of all trades doesn't even begin to cover it. He's more like a roaming tradesman, traveling through the US learning and exploring traditional ways of life. As a musician, he's a renowned old-time fiddler and square dance caller, responsible in no small part for Portland, Oregon's booming old-timey music scene. Whether calling for a raging square dance, teaching old-timey fiddle bowings, or hard at work building banjos and jamming at all-night house parties, he's a wonderfully charismatic community leader. We encourage you to check out his beautiful website, www.michaelismerio.com, which is chock-full of mp3s to listen to and fun biographical information. Michael's website was the main inspiration for Hearth Music's website. And that's Michael Ismerio's great talent: inspiring others and leading by example.
Rolling into Portland, Oregon in the mid-90s, Ismerio hooked up with a group of young musicians, the Dickel Brothers, who were becoming interested in old-time music through old 78s and local folk revivalists. Ismerio brought a punk, DIY attitude to this folk music, as concerts frequently became late-night, street-side dance parties outside Portland bars. Discovering the old-time fiddle, led him to form a new band to focus on old-time fiddling's dance roots: The Government Issue Orchestra. This large dance band was an early powerhouse on the Portland scene, bringing next generation musicians and dance callers together in Portland's burgeoning urban square dance scene. Perhaps Ismerio's most lasting effect on Portland's scene was his founding and early support for the annual Portland Music Old-Time Gathering. This annual gathering started as a bar concert and house party at Michael’s home and has grown to an event that brings over a thousand musicians and dancers from all over the US to Portland, Oregon. It's a testament to Michael's love of music and community and ample proof of his skills at combining the two. Now living in Bloomington, Indiana, Michael Ismerio tours frequently, bringing urban square dancing to towns across the United States and continuing to delight in introducing old-time music to anyone willing to stop and listen (or dance!).
Shipping Port w/Jason & Pharis Romero
Moonshiner w/Government Issue Orchestra
Poor Old Napper w/Jason & Pharis Romero