Mike Hines is no stranger to local music fans. He catches us up on where he's been, where he's going, and surprised him about life in L.A. Hines has two upcoming shows: Park Place in Milford on Friday, Dec. 18, and Bubba's in Dover on Saturday, Dec. 26.

Dover native Mike Hines has gotten to a point in his career where he’s entertaining second-generation fans. That’s fine with him. It means he can play everything from Prince to Ne-Yo and get any crowd going.

Q Tell us what you’ve been up to.
A I’m originally from Dover, and moved to California about 13 years ago. The last few years I’ve been splitting my time 50/50. I was out there traveling with an orchestra, but
with the economy going the way it is, people are not hiring a lot of 40-piece orchestras. The timing of that business slowing down and my mother getting older, it started to make more sense for me to be here. You only get one mom! Now I’m probably here about 80% of the time, and transitioning to being here full time.

Q What was L.A. like?
A There are so many musicians who move there to make it that the clubs have the upper hand. You can’t go to a club and tell owners ‘I’m going to pack your club.’ He can say ‘My club’s already packed.’ You have more power in your name and your ability in a small town because it’s based on marquee value. You get paid your worth on the East Coast. On the West Coast, no matter how good you are, there’s no negotiation. It couldn’t be more different. It sounds good to be able to say ‘I’m a musician in L.A.,’ but it’s a rough road.

Q What’s your advice to people who want to make a living as musicians?
A Be committed to it. It’s great if you have family support. And you can’t just be caught up in enjoying playing an instrument or singing — you have to really work at your craft. And you’d better have the best band you possibly can. I’m very grateful for my band (Dave Simmons, drums; Dean Teat, keyboards; Jon Benson, guitar; Greg Gantzer, bass; and Knappy, DJ/rapper).
If you’re thinking about moving to a major city, have a plan. It’s a Catch-22 that you move to a new place to make it, but you have to eat so you end up getting a job and forgetting why you’re there.

Q Of what are you most proud?
A The thing I’m most proud of is my family support. I’ve had the same dream since elementary school. When I told them I wanted to start a band, they said, ‘Be serious about it, make it a business.’ I had friends in Dover who were just as committed but the moment they got married or had families their focus had to change. I love women and children just as much as everybody else, but I loved my music better. I would not have been able to do that had I had a child or got married. If it’s just me, it’s fabulous. Whether things are good, bad or indifferent, things are always going to be ok.

People who are not musicians don’t understand that. You bump into people you haven’t seen in 20 or 30 years and they say, ‘You still doing the band thing?’ And I say, ‘You still doing the post office thing?’

I love what I do. If you can earn a living doing something you love, you’ll never work a day of your life.

Q How do you draw such a broad audience here in Dover? And what do they like to hear?
A We’ll do something that was popular 20 years ago and we’ll do something that’s hot now. But we’ll get labeled doing something like “Purple Rain,” and I try not to do it, but somebody will come and ask for it. I’m in the business to work, so I do what they want. We can do Justin Timberlake or Black Eyed Peas, but we can also do some old school Michael Jackson or Prince. That really keeps our following broad, from 21 to 40-plus. Coming back to Dover periodically was key so each generation could find out about us. And being engaging with the crowd has been a selling point. Whenever I’m playing in a club it’s like I’m having my own party and you’re all my friends. It’s not like I’m just here to get a check and leave.

WHAT Mike Hines
WHEN 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 26
WHERE Bubba’s, 865 N. DuPont Highway, Dover
MORE INFO Call 730-8445 or visit www.mikehines.com

WHAT Mike Hines
WHEN 9:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18
WHERE Park Place, Milford
MORE INFO 422-2112 or visit www.mikehines.com