What happens when three musicians with backgrounds in jazz, classical, bluegrass, and world music get together to play acoustic Texas folk and alt-country? Michael Shay’s trio will give you the chance to find out. Shay’s lush baritone voice and guitar, Brian Oberlin on mandolin, upright bass, and 3 part vocal harmonies combine for a powerfully elegant sound and poetic repertoire you'll not soon forget. Like those of longtime songwriting partner Jim Harris, Shay’s songs play with dreams, history, and the future, touching down in the sensual playgrounds of bars and back roads, up across the arc of love affairs, through graveyards and rich folks’ yards, in cow town tales, dancing with the ghost of William Blake, or Sappho. Not your standard fare, perhaps, but certainly among your richest..
With the nuance of a classically trained musician, the grit of a hard-traveling troubadour, and a taste for almost every style of music under the sun, Michael Shay's folk and alt-country roots give birth to a vision comfortably outside any "Americana" box while still evoking his earliest influences: Townes Van Zandt, Neil Young, Dylan, and the Dead.
Born in Austin and recently relocated to Portland, Oregon after a stint in Ecuador, twenty years exploring countless musical traditions in far-flung countries has led Shay full circle to find his true artistic home deep in the North American vocal traditions . As cellist in world music duo The Just Desserts and singer-songwriter/guitarist in country/bluegrass band Texas Express, Shay has previously toured Canada, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Germany, France, England, Denmark, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, and Mexico, as well as most of the United States more than a few times. With Texas Express, Shay spearheaded two tours and one educational residency in Ecuador and Colombia under the auspices of the US State Department, and Texas Express was the alternate band for the American Music Abroad program in 2014.
Shay has performed, recorded, and collaborated with Anais Mitchell, Jonathan Byrd,, Eliza Gilkyson, Zoe Lewis, Patrick McAvinue, Sam Guthridge, Jordan Tice, Brittany Haas, Phoebe Hunt, Eleanor Whitmore (Steve Earle), Mark Rubin (Bad Livers), Will Taylor, Cyril Neville (Neville Brothers), Conrad Choucroun (NRBQ), Matt Hubbard (7 Walkers/Willie Nelson), Carolyn Wonderland, Guy Forsyth, Matt Fockler, Geoff Union (Ragged Union), Johnsmith, Paula Nelson, Libby Kirkpatrick, Idgy Vaughn, Alex Coke, Wayne Sutton, Matt Giles, Jonathan Doyle,, Maria Tejada, Donald Regnier, Paco Godoy, Mariela Condo, MUNN, Orquesta de Instrumentos Andinos Quito, and many others.
Seven previous releases exploring genres as diverse as bluegrass, Balkan, rock, folk, country, Latin, tango, swing, Catalan, Indian, Andean, and classical led to the January 2015 release of the compilation "Decadence - Ten Years of Music 2002-2012", showcasing the diversity of Shay's output and experience through a decade of recording projects. A new record "The Songs of Jim Harris" will be also released in late 2016.
2015 tour poster (not 2016!):