Michael Kollwitz

Reviews for ‘Stick With It’…

  • Review by Larry Tuttle

There are two tales wound together in Michael Kollwitz’s book STICK WITH IT.  The first is the amazing story of Emmett Chapman’s musical invention, The Stick. Mike was present on the ground right from the very beginning. He was an early adopter of the instrument and spent a lot of one-on-one time with Emmett himself unlocking the secrets of The Stick. I was particularly intrigued by the stories of those early days and by the portrait of Emmett Chapman that is revealed. For those of us who have played and loved this instrument, it’s a wonderful peek behind the curtain at its origin.

The second intertwined tale reads something like an owner’s manual for the life of a freelance musician. Mike details all the many twists and turns of learning to make a living doing something nobody else has done before.   There’s a lot of entrepreneurial creativity at work here.  Everyone Mike met along his path needed to be introduced to the instrument and shown its sound and appeal. Imagine building a career as a musician when nobody has ever seen your instrument or knows what it is!  Definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s a wonderful story of persistence, inventiveness, and can-do spirit. 

  • Review by Alphonso Johnson

Michael was one of the first musicians to embrace The Chapman Stick, and when I first met Emmett Chapman, he spoke very highly about Mike. This book reads like a biography and tells a vivid story of one man’s journey through a period of his life exploring this new discovery. I found some new ideas and learned about a fellow musician who continues to explore the universe of music.

  • Review by Don Schiff

I’m so thrilled for you and proud of you. Your life has been and is exciting. Your stories of life through music and this fabulous instrument we play is inspirational, providing a look into our world of surviving as an artist. As you wonderfully told it, in a music career, you meet the strangest, weirdest people and see great kindness and absurdity in human nature. I loved it!

And my favorite part is in actually knowing you through the years, seeing a wonderfully talented, thoughtful, kind spiritual person go forth in this life with Stick in hand, courage, and passion for pursuing and achieving a dream.

I loved hearing about your times with Emmett and the beautiful acknowledgments of Yuta, Diana, and Grace. Emmett’s legacy lives on as we are truly blessed to know them and to continue to be part of this great Stick family. You’re a gift in this world, Mike as a person and artist and I’m so happy to call you my friend.

  • Review by Mark Gifford

“Stick With It” by Michael Kollwitz is a breezy, entertaining read. It tells a lot of the history of the Chapman Stick, along with a fascinating autobiographical account of how Mike became one of the greatest Stick players in the world. A path full of twists and turns, with lots of wild and crazy adventures for sure! A must-read for anyone who has seen Mike perform or wants to know more about one of the most unusual instruments in the world.

  • Review by Leland Ho

I finished reading your book last night. What an interesting life you’ve lived. I’m glad I was able to meet you while you lived in the Sacramento area. First time was at my sister-in-law’s place and you also performed at my niece’s wedding. I don’t remember how many different Borders Bookstores I saw you perform at but it was quite a few. Your 23 CDs (and DVD) are still some of my favorites among my collection of 6000+ LPs, CDs, & singles. 

  • Review by Margaret Alsholm

I ordered the book a couple of weeks ago and am almost to the end.  It is very well written and I’m enjoying every chapter.

  • Review by Yvonna Graham

Stick With It: Adventures of a Chapman Stick Player, by Michael Kollwitz, highlights a little-known music niche. This book will mainly interest people who treasure the innovative music scene of the 1960s and 70s. Kollwitz connects his story with other musicians of the time. He wrote the book, in part, to honor the memory of Emmett Chapman, the creative genius who invented the Chapman Stick, a stringed instrument unlike any other.

Michael Kollwitz has played the Stick professionally for over 40 years. It’s easy to find YouTube videos of him, and his music is beautiful. More than beautiful music is needed to make a living, so Kollwitz details the hard work and perseverance it took to “stick with it.”

Kollwitz shares his love for the Stick which looks like a guitar with no body, requires an amp to play, and sounds like a piano married to a harp with guitar overtones. Really — I had to hear it to believe it. Kollwitz convinced me the instrument deserves to be more widely heard. 

This narrative takes the reader along for quite a ride, from gig to gig through the ups and downs of a musically driven life. Kollwitz must have kept copious notes to remember so many details! As a reader, I finished the book feeling like I knew Michael Kollwitz personally.

The tone is unassuming and casual. Kollwitz writes like he’s sitting across from you at a diner and you’ve just asked how he came to be one of the few professional Stick players on the planet. He tells his story chronologically. He focuses on the many amazing people who helped him on his way.

I was impressed to find no typos or spelling/grammar errors. This hardly ever happens to me, so I bet there’s a good editor behind the scenes! The single weakness of the book is its length; it does seem to go on a bit too long. There are some repetitions of comments. I feel it could be tightened up without losing its distinctive character or flow.

I’m glad I read the book. This was a window into a part of ’60s and ’70s music I knew nothing about. Kollwitz is insightful and thoughtful about the emergence of electronic music including the synthesizer and his beloved Chapman Stick.

P. S. I’ve recommended this book to the board that reviews books for film/TV options. It seems like Stick With It would make a terrific music documentary.

  • Review by Mark Kelley

An interesting autobiography about my friend, his innovations and his perseverance.

Michele Mc Laughlin- Award Winning pianist, and composer with over 1.5 billion streams of her music