There was a time when Mike Michel — locally known for teaching Rock Camp For Dads — thought his career in music might be over.
He developed the auditory brain conditions tinnitus and hyperacusis, making him extremely sensitive to sound. A year ago, he couldn’t handle sitting in a coffee shop without earplugs, and he became concerned for his livelihood.
“To have that threatened after 30 years of doing it, it was really intense,” he said.
But after extensive therapy, Michel has reinvented his teaching style. He’s released his first all-acoustic album and is back at the Lake Harriet House of Music, where his Peace Den class gives adult musicians the experience of practicing and performing with a band.
Students play the music of 1965-1975, choosing from musical scenes like Laurel Canyon and Greenwich Village, and they research the songwriters and talk about their own experiences during the period.
With so many guitars in the room, Michel treats the class like an orchestra.
“It’s really fun to orchestrate a big group with acoustic guitar,” he said. “…Peace Den for me is very soothing.”
Michel recorded his album On The Mend at the Terrarium, working with producer and mixer Jason Orris, who had also experienced tinnitus and understood what Michel was hearing.
“I’m relying more and more on inner sound vibrations for pitch,” said Michel, who now performs without sound monitors directed at the stage.
Michel will perform Nov. 11 at the Wilco Round Robin Night at Honey, and he’ll appear with Jim Walsh’s Hootenanny Dec. 8 at Studio 2.
Peace Den students will perform a semester-ending gig Nov. 2 at Studio 2 at 46th & Bryant.