Michael Mirro: the musical doctor

Michael Mirro

In an alternate universe, a man sits at a steel drum with a stethoscope in one hand, young child on his shoulder, and maniacal look of passion on his face. Escaped from the jungles of his own mind, the man returns to the realm of men with a distinct and otherworldly gleam in his eye—one that reveals having stared providence directly in the face. He knows his purpose, his function, and his fate.

This is no alternate universe. The sounds of spiritual clatter emanating from the drum at his side belong to none other than the musical doctor himself, Michael Andrew Mirro, spreading the rhythmic remedy of sound.


Michael, affectionately known as Mirro, has always been a man lost in the wilds of his own mad vision. He was a founding member of international roots rock stalwarts Umphrey’s McGee (1997), Chicago folk-scene heavyweights John Wasem Band (2005), electroacoustic pop experiment Governor Switch (2010) and Marrowsonic (2012). Adept at drums, steel drums, vibraphone, marimba, tympani, and piano, Mirro—a multi-instrumental musical prodigy—has taught percussion and piano through private lessons for over fifteen years.


Mirro’s prowess extends beyond instrumental chops. Growing up with a fascination with music, his mother taught him violin and piano at five-years-old. “I was fascinated because it was a spiritual journey,” says Mirro. “I recognized that early on.” Yet, his pursuit of music was put on the backburner for sports. Mirro naturally excelled at soccer and received numerous accolades. Sports wrangled control of Mirro’s ambition until he heard Eric Clapton's “Layla” by Eric Clapton on a sunny afternoon in high school and his second foray into music began. Mirro took up the drums, studying with the renowned Sir William Romer. Romer gave Mirro a foundation in Afro-Cuban drumming, which fostered a love of Latin rhythms in his compositions that continues today.


Mirro studied music theory at Notre Dame, and he graduated with a stellar GPA. At 19-years-old, Mirro joined the Berklee College of Music Big Band. Soon after, during his sophomore year at Notre Dame, Mirro helped form Umphrey’s McGee with fellow undergrads Brendan Bayliss (guitar/vocals), Ryan Stasik (bass), and Joel Cummins (keyboards). Umphrey’s McGee went on to headline global tours and became kings of the roots-rock touring circuit, playing Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival. Chicago eventually became the band’s home, where it is based today.

Mirro recorded two studio albums and two live albums with the band, helping to steer its nascent sound.


After five years as part of Umphrey's McGee, Mirro decided to attend medical school at Loyola University in Chicago. The musical doctor worked hard to complete his medical degree, maintaining a 4.0 GPA while taking classes. Though like a whisper, like a feather at the wrist of drummer born-to-be, the need to make music would not give him peace. In 2005, Mirro helped form the folk four-piece—John Wasem Band—led by his friend and Tennessee-born troubadour John Harlan Wasem.


Session work has also been a large force in the development of Mirro as a professional musician. Producer John F. Ovnik of renowned Deaf Dog Studios – located in New York, Santa Monica and Chicago—had this to say: “He is a composer, multi-instrumentalist and arranger with leadership and business abilities superior to most that I have met.” For, at long last, Michael Mirro is in the driver’s seat and toting his entire bag of tricks. Sometimes referred to as Marrowsonic or M^3, the most recent project features Marco Villareal on electric guitar; Buddy Pearson on electric bass; Michael Mirro on drums, percussion, and piano-synth; and Mike Love (a.k.a. DJ Quikmix) on turntables and synth. This group comprises a multi-genre, full-service production unit providing live performance in a variety of options, depending on the needs of the venue or event. Guest artists from all different styles have been known to sit in on these collaborations.

It seems that the musical doctor is always plugging away under cloak of night. An indispensable innovator in the music industry, his next move may be anywhere you might be. So keep an eye out, step inside his realm and hold on tight.