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.

“True, endearing, joyful, and at times disheartening, The Musician is an unvarnished look at what most musicians encounter when they choose to follow their dreams. It is an important as well as entertaining book reflecting the reality of how rare it is to achieve celebrity in any profession.”

Ralph Miriello

Huffington Post columnist, Notes on Jazz blogger, voting member of the Jazz Journalists Association

"Never a false note. Mike Shaw captures the pains and joys that come from pursuing a life in the arts. His lean prose examines Tom Cliffe's passion for music and the struggles that come from his burning need to create and earn recognition for his talent. THE MUSICIAN is a beautiful examination of one man's need to find himself through musical expression and the tolls it takes on his psyche. This novel is compelling, captivating, and enduring–– like an outstanding musical performance. Bravo!"

PD Scullin

Writer | Atlanta GA

"A book even a drummer can appreciate. For years I have been told “a drummer is someone who hangs out with musicians.” As such, you might not think I should be allowed to comment on a book titled, “The Musician,” but I think I am qualified as I can speak for the majority of readers who also cannot tell a major chord from a minor mistake. You do not need to understand the finer points of the art to appreciate this well-told story of a struggling artist. One word of warning. This is a book for adult readers. Not because it has naughty bits, but because it explores the human condition through the eyes of one individual with talent as well as flaws. It is a book worth reading and should be considered by book clubs looking for something new."

Chuck Storla

“Some of the best writing about music and musicians. Like all good fiction, The Musician is rooted in fact—often enough hard, cold facts.”

Kevin Bales

Internationally renowned jazz pianist and teacher

"Brilliant and compelling. It has been a long time since I enjoyed a novel this much. The characters are immediate and absorbing and the writing is superb. Five stars."

Steven L. Bashwiner

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