Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Stevie Wonder and Me…

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Ed Sheeran busking

What do Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Stevie Wonder and I all have in common?

Well, it’s an interesting story. I met one of Ed Sheerans family friends at a pool party in Palm Springs, CA late March, so it was around 111 degrees but the cool outdoor pool and pop up tents sheltered us from the punishing California desert sun. Everyone was eating seafood that my friend (actor/director) Jamison Reeves cooked all day for about 150 guests. My other buddy Ed Sunga (special effects guru for Hollywood films) was the buddy who invited me.

Ed Sheerans family friend was visiting from Europe. She’s a writer and a lovely woman. I’ll keep her name out of it, for her privacy, but needless to say, she was a wonderful person.

We talked about how Ed was a busker for many years before he made the leap to being a world superstar. A ‘Busker’ is someone who plays music on the street, opens up their guitar case, and plays music hoping to sell some cds a maybe generate some tips that people throw into the guitar case as they stroll by.

Just like Ed Sheeran, I was a ‘busker’ during the summer months. I played in Santa Monica, CA on the 3rd St Promenade It’s the humblest of humblest gigs. No one pays you to be there, and no one asks you to come. So it takes a lot of courage to wake up at 6am, drive to the promenade, grab a hot coffee, and sit for 6-7 hours before playing around 2pm when people/tourists actually show up to eat, shop, and sightsee. So I can totally relate to what Ed Sheeran might have felt like on the GREAT days when tons of people surround you and support you and buy your cds. However on the bad days you can play all day and make barely enough to pay for the sandwich you boght at Subway for lunch. So its very up & down when you ‘busk’.

A good day ‘busking’ can also turn into opening up for major acts, like when I was asked to open up for Taylor Dayne at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank CA (over 6000 people). A good day busking can also turn into record companies coming out on the weekend to see what the ‘fuss’ is all about. A few Major Record Labels approached me while ‘busking’. A good day busking can also turn into the best thing of all…building real relationships with real people, like YOU, that really dig your music. The coolest part is everyone is from all over the world, so that’s what I loved most about busking in Santa Monica.

  

Okay, so what about John Mayer. I grew up in Chicago and always went to the Summer Music festival downtown Chicago called ‘The Taste Of Chicago‘. All the best local restaurants had food trucks, and the best Bands in the world always were booked to perform to about a million people over the 3 day event. It was awesome! I always DREAMED of performing at the Taste someday.

Some years later, after Touring 300 Colleges all over the country, and opening up for Major Artists like Taylor Dayne, Rebeloution, Cool And The Gang, and other amazing Artists, we were asked to perform at the Taste Of Chicago. We were one of the ‘opening’ acts. Guess who one of the headliners was that year? Yep, John friggin Mayor. He’s an amazing Artist, so it felt awesome to be booked for the same music festival that he was in. I didn’t get to meet John, but just knowing we got asked to play the same Major music festival, was such an honor.

I’m so fortunate to perform and record with some of the greatest musicians on earth, like Philip Bynoe (bass player for Stave Via). Eliza James (violinist for Paul Anka, and Burt Bacharach). Tom Brechtlein (drummer for Chick Correa). I also have a buddy Tariqh Akoni (guitarist for Josh Groban) up in Santa Barbara that started to produce some of my songs. Very grateful for these amazing friends.

One of my albums also has Curt Bisquera on drums (drummer for Elton John and Sarah McLaughlin) and Chris Chaney on bass (bass player for Jane’s Addiction).

Let’s talk about breathing the same air for one day with Stevie Wonder!!!

Stevie Wonder

For over 10 years I’ve donated free performances every month through an org called The Art Of Elysium.  They bring Artists in to play music for children in hospitals and special needs centers.  I felt beyond honored when I was asked by the Art Of Elysium (Childrens Hospitals/Special Needs Centers) to write a custom song and perform it for a wonderful young blind girl named Leilani. A rep from the Art of Elysium and I went to Leilani’s middle school for the blind in Los Angeles. The goal was to write a song for Leilani and capture HER idea of what HEAVEN might be like.

Ive never released this song, because it was written solely for Leilani. But I’d like to give it to you as a gift.

After writing and recording the song I needed to get my hand repaired from an old injury that I’d been putting off so I saw a hand specialist and he did a procedure to fix the tendon. I’m 100% now but at the time the surgery left my right hand in a cast an unable to play guitar for a few months. The SURPRISING thing is they wanted me to play it at a fund raising event that my hero STEVIE WONDER was hosting and performing at. Leilani would be there and I was asked to share the stage with Stevie Wonder and play our song ‘Heaven’ for Leilani. I was THRILLED that I’d get to play it live on stage with LeiLani there in front of an audience AND with Stevie Wonder just steps away. The cast on my hand prevented me from playing the song that night, but I still went to the event, hugged LeiLani, and gave her a cd with her song ‘Heaven’ on it. It was just for her, but I feel like I should share it with you too especially after reading my long winded story about it…lol.

Anyhoo, hope you feel like you know more about me, and how much I’d LOVE to take you on my journey as an Artist. I write songs for me and for YOU. I’d like to keep sharing my songs and journey with you. Hope you’ll join me.

If you’d like to hear the most recent milestone of my journey, click here to listen to my most recent album ‘Firefly’. 

Thank you for being a listener and for making it all matter.

Michael