ARTS ATL calls The Musician a “vivid tale."

For The Musician (Blue Room Books, 325 pages), Atlanta writer Mike Shaw draws upon his decades as a jazz artist to chronicle the fictional story of Tom Cliffe, a pianist devoted to his craft but without a pathway to stardom or financial success. Like many working musicians, Cliffe survives on the edges of the business: playing small nightclubs, living in humble quarters, fighting temptation and constantly scrambling to earn enough money to survive.

The Musician – A Novel

By Mike Shaw

The Musician is not my only book, but it’s the one book I had to write. On the heels of a long and mostly directionless career as a singer-pianist—and earlier, guitarist—I finally surrendered to that age-old directive: Fall back on your education. I moved from New Orleans to Atlanta, started a marketing agency, and began my writing career. Several clients and friends I made in Atlanta suggested I write the story of all those years trying to gain traction in a business that is no business at all, where there is no structure or identifiable ways to advance, where life submits to happenstance and happenchance. Hence The Musician, and my protagonist, Tom Cliffe.

Tom Cliffe is who many young people in the 1960s wanted to be: not just a lover of music, a player of music. But more than an interest, more than a passion, music and a commitment to becoming an accomplished and recognized player becomes the driving force in Tom’s life. He will give up everything, all the accommodations of the conventional life he was brought up in and educated for. Even when he is nearly destitute, even through years of itinerancy, despite self-interested booking agents and uncommitted fellow musicians, even for the woman he loves, he will not abandon it.

The Musician captures the character and circumstance of life as shared by musicians everywhere, from their immersion in their craft, to the joy of playing music well and with others who play it well, to the frustrations associated with committing a lifetime to such an unstructured and unrewarded career.  

About the Author

Mike Shaw is an Atlanta-based writer and musician. A singer-pianist, he began touring in the late 1960s, performing in nightclubs and on concert stages, solo and with jazz combos, ultimately settling in New Orleans in the late ‘70s. As a writer, he counts more than 12,000 published articles, from investigative pieces adopted by 60 Minutes and ABC 20/20 to ghostwritten articles, white papers, and blogs for corporate clients. He has founded and presided over three Atlanta-based marketing agencies. In addition his first novel, The Musician, released by Blue Room Books in June 2021, he co-authored Understanding Economic Equilibrium, published in May 2021 by Business Expert Press.

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