New Aiken video features Smithfield

Published 11:13 pm Friday, November 15, 2013

By Frank Roberts


Mike Aiken writes, plays music, and spends much of his life sailing over the bounding main, accompanied by his pretty singer-spouse, Amy.



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Home sweet home is their rugged Tayan 47 sailboat. At the drop of a ticket, they will tell you all about their adventurous life aboard, and they will sing their songs, all over the world, including one of their favorite little towns, Smithfield, Va.

The singer-songwriter has often performed there and, for eight years, ran the Aiken and Friends Festival.

In keeping with the coming holiday season, he brought his film crew to Smithfield to make a video version of a song he recorded earlier, “Almost Christmas.” He filmed in several areas of town including The Christmas Store, downtown and Windsor Castle Park.

Aiken first acquainted himself with the area when he “ran a hurricane,” eventually winding up there. “I fell in love with the town,” he said, during a phone interview from his sailboat. One of his closest friends is music store owner Jim Abicht.

Smithfield photographed beautifully for the seasonal video. Add to that, the singer’s silk-smooth country voice and a delicious holiday look, and the result is a visual holiday treat that can be found on Amazon, along with iTunes and YouTube, which also has some other Aiken offerings.

In person, Mr. and Mrs. Aiken offer programs that mix their music with stories of their trans-Atlantic crossings and stories of life, love and wanderlust.

The Aikens enjoy their forays on land, but their life is on the water. Both are licensed United States Coast Guard captains, and each has logged more than 35,000 watery miles.

Aiken and his California-girl call Nashville their home but, for the past 20 years most of their time has been spent offshore, sailing out of Norfolk.

“We did have a house on land, we had acreage, we raised horses, but the water just drew us,” he said. “We’ve been in some hairy situations — lots of bad weather. There were times when we were real happy to see the next day.”

The couple has outfitted several boats over the years, sailing the bounding main and gathering beaucoup anecdotes about life and locales, creating tales that make for fun entertainment, mixing lighthearted conversation and country-flavored music.

Mike Aiken’s music is influenced by such greats as John Prine, Doc Watson and Ry Cooder — covering folk, bluegrass, blues and, of course, old-time country.

“The old silver-screen heroes, singing cowboys, and swashbuckling sailors have always held sway for me,” he said.

Listeners can discern the influence of those cowboy musicians in the mandolins, the bottleneck steel guitars and the other guitars the musician deftly wields.

With his new video having been released, Aiken is on his way to Europe for shows in Switzerland, Belgium, France and Luxembourg.

“They love the U. S.,” he said noting his CDs are “are high on the charts” there. Here in the states, his aptly titled album, “Captains & Cowboys,” is up for a Grammy nomination.