The Midland singer-songwriter released his first solo album, “All My Stories,” last year and is transitioning to the Grand Rapids area. He plays SpeakEZ Lounge tonight. (Podcast, video)
THE ARTIST: Michael Robertson
THE MUSIC: Americana, folk, country, indie-rock
WHERE YOU CAN SEE HIM: 8:15 p.m. Wednesday at SpeakEZ Lounge in Grand Rapids (opening for Channing & Quinn); Friday at Oxygen Bar in Midland; April 13 at Bemos in Bay City
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With a grandfather who churned out “old country songs” on a lap steel guitar and a grandmother who played drums, it’s no surprise that Michael Robertson gravitated toward music, eventually becoming an in-demand, mid-Michigan guitarist who’s performed and recorded with a variety of acts for more than two decades.
But it wasn’t until last year that this “middle-aged dude” finally released his very first solo project.
“A few years ago, the band that I was in broke up and it’s sort of a typical story of how bands go through that process. I found myself in sort of a down period where I was trying to figure out what kind of direction I wanted to go,” he recalls.
“My favorite things to do are to write and sing my own songs and accompany other songwriters as a guitar player. I was looking for a way to be able to get some attention to do that with other people and so I went into the recording studio and started putting some of my stuff down.
“I don’t know if ever really intended it be my own CD-release project. But as it kind of grew, I got a lot more comfortable with the project and with some encouragement of other people, I decided to put it out and go out and some performing on my own.”
What resulted was “All My Stories,” a powerful, nine-song, Americana-, folk- and country-tinged collection recorded at Bay City’s Reed Recording Co.
And while Robertson has become a familiar fixture to mid-Michigan and Thumb-area audiences in a variety of bands – including Michael Robertson & The Broken Hearted Saviors, Jen Cass & The Lucky Nows, The Sky Blue Sky and others – he’s continued to push westward with an eye toward expanding his audience in Grand Rapids and elsewhere. He says he’s “slowly transitioning from Midland to Grand Rapids,” where he’s spending more and more time.
Robertson and harmonica player Roscoe Selley also stopped by for this week’s edition of Local Spins Live on News Talk 1340 AM (WJRW) to perform a couple of songs and talk about his journey as a musician and songwriter. Listen to the full podcast here, with a video of his performance of “Old Man” below.
PODCAST: Local Spins Live with Michael Robertson
A native of Breckenridge, Mich., Robertson – who released an acoustic duet CD with his brother about 20 years ago and a couple of “indie adult rock” albums with the one-time group Maybe August – aims to “branch out” by playing more markets and festivals, as well as relocating to Grand Rapids.
“My wife is working in Grand Rapids full time with our plan being to have both of us there full time next June when our youngest son finishes high school,” he says. “In the meantime, I’m trying to get acclimated to the city and meet people and gig as much as possible there. It’s a wonderful city with a vibrant scene.”
He also hopes to return to the studio to record a solo EP later this year as well as completing a new recording with The Sky Blue Sky trio.
“I’m constantly getting new ideas and I have the app on my phone where I’m singing stuff in or playing something on my guitar and keeping track, or I write stuff down,” he says. “The hard part is finishing those ideas. That’s where I’m at right now, is finishing some of those new tunes.”
VIDEO: Michael Robertson, “Old Man” (Local Spins Live)
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