Mike Shaw’s talents have been honed over five decades of performing, dating back to the 1960s as a folk singer at Kansas City’s revered Vanguard Coffee House. As did many musicians of that genre, Mike graduated to folk-rock music, a format that spawned the singer-songwriters and the music that dominated the next two decades and remains among the most popular and appreciated of American music. In New Orleans through the 1970s and ‘80s, he made the transition to jazz and worked with some of that city’s most admired players, including those in Metropolis, his jazz funk band that became one of the city’s most popular and respected bands of the time. He performs today at Atlanta jazz venues and night clubs, as well as for special events, most recently completing a four-year run in the rotation at the Ritz Carlton Buckhead, the city’s longest running live music venue.
Mike’s repertoire is a mix of the music that has shaped his artistry and career: adaptations of such standards as Ellington’s Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me, Johnny Mercer’s One For My Baby and the oft-recorded, haunting Nature Boy; and arrangements of some of the best songs from the favorite artists of the singer-songwriter era, including Elton John, Billy Joel, Leon Russell, Randy Newman, the Eagles and Beatles.
When Mike moved from New Orleans to Atlanta in 1989, he turned his attention to the writing side of life. Still he remained active in music, reuniting with some of his favorite players and performing as The Mike Shaw Trio at storied Atlanta jazz venues like Churchill Grounds and the Ritz Carlton Buckhead. In 2019, he recorded this haunting version of “Nature Boy” with saxophonist Chuck Schwartz, who also provided some of the stories and much of the inspiration for the character Hacksaw in The Musician.
The Musician opens with protagonist Tom Cliffe seeking a chance to play for an audience, then discovering and becoming steeped in folk music, the most popular music of the 1960s, that “decade of discontent” when songs were expressions of young people’s deepest convictions. But Mike also spent some of his time on stage with a popular party band named the Blue Velvets, who recorded this Leonard Bernstein composition, with Mike on vocals, released by Damon Records in March 1965.