Mike Nowotarski is a classically trained guitarist, songwriter, and improviser equally at home on the concert stage and in DIY arts venues. He performs regularly both in his hometown of NYC and across the eastern United States both as a sideman and with his personal project Coffee Nap.
Coffee Nap is a unique mix of experimental guitar with lyrical pop music. It is inspired in equal parts by art music and the American underground rock tradition. Coffee Nap has shared bills with respected indie artists including Early Riser, Eleanor Friedburger of Fiery Furnaces, Long Neck, Bueno, and Hello Shark. They released their debut album, (Of) Smoke Rings and Tenderness, in June of 2022. The project is known for its heartfelt confessional lyrics and use of extended guitar techniques.
Mike has a lengthy history of chamber music and jazz collaborations with well respected and international artists. Some of his most recent performances include the Pigeonwing Dance Collective and violinist/vocalist Concetta Abbate. He has also shared bills with leaders in the field of new music, including David First and Gamelan Son of Lion.
He has performed at a variety of arts institutions across New York City including the stage at Bryant Park, the Park Church Co-Op, Joe’s Pub (the Public Theatre), the Mercury Lounge, the Bitter End, TV Eye, and Trans-Pecos.
He holds an MA in classical guitar performance from Hunter College where he studied with Brazilian guitarist João Luiz Rezende Lopes. During his time at Hunter, Mike studied a repertoire that focused on the intersections of classical, jazz, and popular music, including pieces by Dusan Bogdanovic and Leo Brouwer. He also studied jazz composition and improvisation with Grammy nominated trumpeter Ryan Keberle.
Mike is a proud music educator and advocate in the field who has worked in the NYC public school system since 2016. He has spent years developing a music education program that focuses primarily on the guitar, student creativity, and the intersection of art and technology.
While completing his BM in Music Education from Ithaca College, Mike worked as a research assistant from his mentor teacher Radio Cremata, studied the use of technology in Music Education and the need to transition away from traditional models of music education. He presented this work at Music Education conferences including TMEA in Texas in 2015, and at APME in Boston in 2016.
Mike also participated for several years in MadLib, a working group dedicated towards developing anti-racist practices in Music Education, that grew out of NYCORE (New York Collective of Radical Educators). This project concluded with a presentation at NYU during their annual IMPACT conference alongside fellow educators Martin Urbach, Spenser Hale, and Jules Hollander.
Mike is also a lifelong New Yorker and advocate for the arts who has done extensive administrative, advocacy, and volunteer work for arts institutions across the state. These include, but are not limited to, the Park Church Co-Op, Ithaca Underground, the Silent Barn, Educated Little Monsters, Mayday Space, and the Stone Circle Theatre. He has curated or co-curated concerts involving significant artists in both the worlds of indie rock and classical music including Carlos Truly, Wendy Eisenberg, Tamio Shiraishi, River Ramirez, Kalbells, Palaver Strings, M. Lamar, C. Spencer Yeh, Kaki King, and others.