With the nuance of a classically-trained musician, the twang of a born-and-bred Texan, and a career spent collaborating with musicians from around the world, Michael Shay's vision exists comfortably outside any "Americana" box while still evoking his earliest influences: Townes Van Zandt, Neil Young, Dylan, and the Dead. Like those of his longtime songwriting collaborator Jim Harris, Shay’s songs are as likely to touch down in the bars and backroads of cow towns as in the graveyards and parlours of old Europe - dancing with the ghosts of William Blake, Hank Williams, or Sappho... sometimes while you dance too.
Born in Austin and splitting his down time between Oregon and Ecuador, twenty years exploring folk, pop, and classical musical traditions from around the world finally led Shay back to his artistic home deep in the North American vocal and songwriting traditions. As cellist in world music accordion-cello duo The Just Desserts and as singer-songwriter/guitarist leading his country/bluegrass band Texas Express, Shay has previously toured in Canada, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Germany, France, England, Denmark, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, and Mexico in addition to the United States. Shay has acted as a cultural ambassador in Ecuador and Colombia, performing and leading workshops under the auspices of the US State Department. While still occasionally appearing with Texas Express and The Just Desserts in Portland, Shay now tours primarily with the Michael Shay Trio, performing original country-folk and roots-Americana repertoire in a format that features upright bass, mandolin, guitar, and 3 part harmonies.
Shay has performed/recorded/collaborated with Anais Mitchell, Jonathan Byrd, Eliza Gilkyson, Zoe Lewis, Patrick McAvinue, Sam Guthridge, Jordan Tice, Brittany Haas, Phoebe Hunt, Eleanor Whitmore (Steve Earle/The Mastersons), Mark Rubin (Bad Livers), Will Taylor, Cyril Neville (Neville Brothers), Conrad Choucroun (NRBQ/Patty Griffin), 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.
A new album, "Michael Shay Sings: The Songs of Jim Harris" will be released in May 2017, co-produced by Donald Regnier, featuring performances by Ryan Hagler, Donald Regnier, Daniel Dufour, Fidel Minda, Matt Giles, Marty Muse (Robert Earl Keen), Brian Oberlin, Chris Kee (Peter Rowan), "King" Louis Pain, Daniel Pacheco, Steve Kerwin, and Engineered by Chris Shaw (Bob Dylan).