Photo: David Belisle
Originating in Los Angeles and cutting his musical teeth playing in bands with friends such as Steve Berlin (The Blasters, Los Lobos), Michael Shuler would eventually head up to Seattle where he fell in with numerous of the artists making up the nascent "Belltown" music scene - Gary Heffern, Larry Barrett, Carolyn Wennblom (aka Girl Singer), Nicholas Vroman, Terry Lee Hale, and The Walkabouts, to name but a few.
Settling into his new digs, Shuler began playing solo shows at legendary venues The Backstage and the Crocodile Café opening for artists such as Mark Eitzel, Roseanne Cash, Peter Case, Gillian Welch, and Guy Clark. Embracing his new-found status as singer-songwriter, Shuler was a natural fit with the Grange Rock group of artists comprising the No Depression scene in Seattle that shared a lot of crossover with the Belltown crowd. Through growing friendships with his Belltown community, Shuler was soon producing tracks for Glitterhouse Records artists Heffern, Terry Lee Hale, Chris and Carla, as well as producing Carolyn Wennblom's album Bees To The Honey.
During this time Shuler also released his own well-received solo debut, Montgomery Road, and he continued to play shows throughout the Northwest with his Small Combo, a neo-skiffle unit featuring Bruce Wirth (Long Wasted, glimmer, The Walkabouts, Jon Hyde Band) on violin, mandolin, accordion, and lap steel, Wennblom on vocals, and Chris Adams (The Ones) on brushed snare and percussion. His second album Edge of the World followed in 2009.
After resettling in Los Angeles Shuler got to work on his excellent new album Love & the Age of Automation, released in the autumn of 2019. A natural progression from his first two albums, Love & the Age of Automation can best be described as a highly crafted distillation of country, rock, folk and pop music comparable to the Traveling Willburys and John Hiatt, with just the right amount of Dylan present in his vocal phrasing, and to underscore this point one need not look any further than the stable of A-list musicians Shuler recruited to play on his record; drummer Gary Ferguson (John Hiatt), bassists Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, Minus 5, REM), Fernando Perdomo (Echo in the Canyon), John Pierce (Huey Lewis, Tom Petty), and Gene Libbea (Nashville Bluegrass Band, Ralph Stanley), Marty Rifkin on pedal steel (Springsteen, Petty), and the lovely vocals of Syd Straw, Carolyn Wennblom, and John Ramberg (The Tripwires, Minus 5, Model Rockets).