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Rising Up from the Underground 
Dr BLT Interviews Jeffrey Michaels 

When I met Jeffrey Michaels on April 12, 2008 at Homer Joy’s birthday celebration at Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace, I said to myself, “Yep, he’s got the look.”  By “the look,” I was thinking about what the ideal “look” would be for a young, up-and-coming artist with one boot firmly planted in the Bakersfield Sound of yore, and one boot in the air, ready to put the kick back in country.  

Jeffrey Michaels was sitting in a table right next to mine, with a pretty young lady friend, and Howard Yearwood, the guitar player in his band that, just a week or two prior, had performed on the Blackboard stages at Trout’s as part of a tribute to the Bakersfield Sound. 

Jeffrey was farm-boy friendly, as was his guitar player, and I hadn’t come across that sort of genuine display of friendliness since I was growing up on the prairies of Saskatchewan.  

When I got home, I went to his myspace page and, after playing a few songs there, I realized that he had much more than a distinctive look and an affable manner going for him.  

The songs of Jeffrey Michaels, and his band, the Traveling Salvation Show, captivated me instantly.  They took me back to the days of the Bakersfield Sound, and then thrust me into a future I had almost given up on---a future where the attitude and style of the Bakersfield Sound is respectfully preserved, while new territory is boldly claimed.  A fertile paradise where every twang is given a tasteful new twist.  

I realized that, while the Bakersfield Sound was very much alive, some of the most promising seeds Buck Owens had planted had blown with the wind, and spread well beyond Kern County.  Everywhere that Jeffrey Michaels goes is fertile ground for a Bakersfield Sound revival and an all new nu Bako Sound TM.  He’s a bit Bakobilly TM, a blue grass, and a bit Krock TM, a term that refers to the newest brand of Kern County country rock.  Of course he puts his own unique personality and his own creative mind into the mix, not to mention his tri-state roots, his mid-western sensibility and his own set of unique childhood, adolescent and young adult experiences.  

There’s a more talking I could do about Jeffrey Michaels, but I think that by now the visitors to this site are probably growing increasingly eager to have me talk directly to the man that is, without a doubt, a legend in the making.  Let’s get started.  

Dr BLT: How about if we do this the way Johnny Cash built the Cadillac he
describes in his big hit song, One Piece at a Time? Here are a few
initial questions.

First of all, Jeffrey, it was a great privilege to meet you at the
Crystal Palace on April 12 for Homer Joy's birthday. How did you meet
Homer Joy and how did you end up at his birthday celebration that
night? 

Jeffrey Michaels: I met Homer through the guitar player in my band, Howard
Yearwood.  Homer wrote the theme to the sound I love, so it's definitely
an honor to call him, and his wife Suzan my friends.

Dr BLT: Tell us a little bit about your band, and your role within the
band. Also, please introduce us to the other members of your band and
describe what they do in the band. 

Jeffrey Michaels: Howard Yearwood is on B-Bender, baritone guitar, banjo, and the B.U.Vox.   Then we have Mark Thomas, who does upright, and electric bass.
Then, we have Paulie "Deadwood" Sinacor on drums.  

The band is called Jeffrey Michaels & the Traveling Salvation
Show.   We try to stay true to the sound that I hear in my head.

Dr. BLT: I know that you are very rooted in the Bakersfield Sound. I have a
lot of respect for musicians that are loyal to their roots and to the
pioneers that went before them. What is it about that sound, and
those artists of that era that appeals to you? 

Jeffrey Michaels: The sound comes natural to me.  As a kid I didn't know that there was something called the Bakersfield sound.  I watched HEE HAW and knew that when Buck sang he meant it.  He seemed to be sad when he sang a sad song, and happy when
he sang something up beat. That's what singing is to me. It's putting your heart in to what you're saying.   I love that the Bakersfield sound wasn't about going against
the grain, but just doing what you feel.

Dr BLT: How would you describe your music and what you are attempting to
accomplish with your music? 

Jeffrey Michaels: My music is me. I'm trying to accomplish sanity.

Dr BLT: How did you first get started in music, and what have been some of
your influences over the years? 

Jeffrey Michaels: My older brother got a guitar for Christmas when I was 5. He
never touched it.  I picked it up and never put it down.  I've been influenced by everything over the years. And I've played different styles. But I'm mostly influenced by real singers. The voice is an instrument. Tune it.  

Dr. BLT: What artists have you, as a musician, and you, as a band been most
influenced by? 

Jeffrey Michaels: Of course Buck. Rodney Crowell is one of my favorite songwriters and pure singers. John Denver for the same reasons. I'm really influenced by "singers" Marty Robbins, Faron Young, Ray Price...

Dr BLT: Where did you grow up, and how did your experiences as a child
influence your music? 

Jeffrey Michaels: I grew up in the hills of Pennsylvania and West Va. 
The overall blue collar life style there has influenced my writing more than anything. We work hard and don't complain about it.

Dr BLT: Are you familiar with the music of Billy Mize? Will you be coming
out for his birthday party at Trout's on Sunday? 

Jeffrey Michaels: Missed it. We were performing in L.A. 

Dr BLT: What sorts of projects are you presently working on and what can we
look forward to from the band in the near future? 

Jeffrey Michaels: I'm working on a new album that I hope to have done by July. 
The band has been performing some of the material that's going to be on it. I feel like it's getting a good response. 

As a band we really want to do more live gigs. And our guitar player Howard Yearwood and I have been talking about doing some acoustic shows.

I've been missing the intimacy of just guitar and vocals.

Dr BLT: How do people find out more about your music and your band? 

Jeffrey Michaels: Where else?  Myspace. www.myspace.com/jeffreymichaelsmusic 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
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