Mike Palmer is known to many as “The Musician’s Priest” because of the sound advice and support he gives to players from beginning students to seasoned professionals. Born and raised in Wilkes County, Mike is the son of a barber father and florist mother and learned the ethics of hard work at an early age. Those ethics have carried him through life.
Mike first became interested in music at the age of 5 when he received his first guitar. Some of his heroes were Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins and Doc Watson. Honing his skills into that of a talented musician, he went on to actually play music with two of those heroes, Atkins and Watson.
More recently, Mike is well known as the host of the former WKBC Radio’s Hometown Opry which ran for 12 years. This was a weekly radio show featuring live Americana music from regional, national and international bands and musicians. The show, which was held at Mike’s business, Main Street Music and Loan, was videotaped and shown on Charter Cable.
Mike has been one of the most passionate and dedicated promoters of music and musicians in Wilkes County and Blue Ridge Mountain region. He embraces all genres of music. Through his work he has not only helped musicians to network with other players, but helped them find venues at which to perform.
Throughout the years, he has served on the board of directors of the WAFS, Cultural Arts Council of Wilkes, NC Thumpickers Association, and the Advisory Board of Wilkes Community College’s John A. Walker Community Center.
Mike has worked as a MerleFest volunteer since the music festival began in 1988. There he has served in various capacities including emceeing and performing during the annual tribute to Bill Young, one of the festival’s inaugural organizers.
Mike has been a financial supporter of the JAM Program in Virginia, the Wayne Henderson Music Festival, ChickenFest (where he also performs), Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1142 and the Lazarus Project.
He was also at the forefront of organizing the annual Apple Jam, which is a musical kickoff to the yearly Brushy Mountain Apple Festival held in downtown North Wilkesboro.
Mike and various musician friends have volunteered musical performances for non-profit groups such as the Ruby Pardue Blackburn Adult Day Care Center and the Wilkes Heritage Museum.
Mike and his wife Cathy, a talented vocalist, enjoy performing together at their church, Fairplains Baptist.