The power of music
At just 23 years old, Mike Imbasciani has won the SWFL Blues Society’s People’s Choice Award, and though he’s made this community proud, it’s only the beginning.
While most 5-year-old kids might have been concerned with watching cartoons or taking a nap, Imbasciani was playing his guitar. By the time he was 11, he was already playing professionally and at 12 he was playing gigs a lot of adults only dream about. By 14 he started his band, with Bert’s Bar and Grill in Matlacha being one of the first places he was able to transition from playing solo to playing a gig with his group.
The SWFL Blues Society presented Imbasciani the award Friday night at Bert’s.
“I started playing there on the second, fourth and fifth Friday of the month and it’s been a home base for me ever since,” he said.
Part of the reason he loves playing Bert’s is the fan base he’s built there over the years, but even more so, he credits his love for the place with the friendships he’s developed. These days it seems Bert’s is packed whenever Mike Imbasciani and His Bluez Rockerz are slated to play.
“At 12 years old, Mike started playing at Bert’s as a one man band, and now at 23 years old, his band receives the People’s Choice Award from the SWF Blues Society what an achievement!” Bert’s owner Bernard Johnson said. “It has been a great personal experience to watch his music ability and style expand and grow! Bert’s is fortunate to have Mike play at least two times a month all year long.
When thinking back to the origins of his love for music, he admits his father has been as integral to his wide-ranging taste in other musicians to the development of his career as an artist.
“My dad grew up listening to The Beatles and Jimmy Hendrix in college. He’s been a big influence on me in terms of exposing me to good music since I was little, even though he doesn’t play,” he said. “I found artists I liked and then found out who’d influenced them so I started playing all kinds of different music.”
Having a love for and playing the music of his father’s generation certainly hasn’t hurt his fan base, as it seems they span from Boomers down to Gen Z. Now that Imbasciani has won the People’s Choice Award, you would think he might call it a day, but instead he dreams of playing to a sold out Madison Square Garden, saying that remains a firm career goal, though he lives by the old adage, “You don’t have to be famous to be successful.”
“Winning the People’s Choice Award shows that I have some of the best and most loyal friends and fans in the entire area. It meant a lot to me that they came out to show their support. I’ve certainly been very lucky and very blessed to have had the successes I’ve had, especially at such a young age, but I keep pushing and pushing” he said. “This year I’m at about 228 gigs and last year I had 170. My goal was to have 200 this year and now I’ve over-shot that, so I’ve been able to have a lot of growth.”
Imbasciani’s advice to other artists is to figure out what they want to do and pursue the dream with as much focus as possible. He admits music is a formidable medium, acknowledging that people turn to it no matter what may be going on in their day emotionally.
“Music is a powerful thing,” he said. “Look into your playing, if you don’t understand what you’re singing – what you’re playing, it won’t mean anything. Music is about connecting with people and telling a story, even if I never get to play Madison Square Garden. You can leave a legacy in a small town that may mean more to people than if you were a billionaire on the world’s stage.
“This is all I’ve done and this is all I plan to continue to do,” said Imbasciani.
For more information about Imbasciani and his band, visit www.mikeimbasciani.com.
Bert’s Bar & Grill is located at 4271 Pine Island Road in Matlacha. For additional information about the island business, please call 239-282-3232 or visit www.bertsbar.com