How do you say “Acoustic Southwestern Americana Musical Guitar Genius” in just two words? Michael Hearne, that’s how. Since the 1970s, this native Dallas Texan has strolled down a musical path inspired by the great folk and country singer-songwriters who typify and have characterized the Americana “roots” scene. Even minus the undeniable influence of the musical giants he admires and respects to this day, Michael simply had no choice when it came to deciding to be who he is.
This prodigious musical talent was blatantly obvious in Hearne as a young kid. With minimal formal training as a child, coupled with hours of music immersion and hardcore practice, his destiny was forever tangled in “wire and wood.” Hearne had his hands on his first real guitar by age seven and by 12, Michael was a fixture at parties and local homespun events, not realizing that this period was actually dress rehearsal for what would prove to be an ever-evolving and rewarding musical career.
Michael continues to leave an indelible mark on his audiences not only with his signature “Michael Hearne” guitar sound, but also with songs and stories that are rich in lyrical prose, imagery and humor.
He is a songwriter’s songwriter, cut from the same cloth that propels an artist on a committed journey to experiencing life as a series of creative events and fulfilments. Even though the musical high road is typically scattered with twists of fate and a few u-turns along the way (all of which make for great lyrics), Michael continues to forge ahead by just keeping on doing what he loves.
Longevity has yielded Hearne a vast fan base that is solid and ever expanding. Anyone who has ever grooved to one of Hearne’s impeccable guitar leads or kicked up their heels to one of the many two stepping tunes played by him or with his band, South by Southwest, has also probably been caught singing along at some point in the night, note for note, with that beautifully distinctive voice that can never be mistaken for anyone else.
Hearne’s never met an audience he didn’t like and fans quickly become repeat offenders on the house concert, music festival, and club scenes, as both the man and the music are extraordinarily genuine, inspirational, and entertaining.
A consistent winner of the “Best of Taos” awards for performer and singer for more than 10 years, Hearne’s songwriting credits are impressive. Awards include Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best Production at the 2001 New Mexico MIC AWARDS, for “A Taos Christmas Eve,” 2002. He has penned songs for Jerry Jeff Walker and Gary P. Nunn (“Lesson to be Learned from Love”) and his New Mexico anthem, “New Mexico Rain,” recorded by his uncle and aunt, Bill and Bonnie Hearne, and country music legend Johnny Rodriguez.
His critically acclaimed CD Sight and Sound – 11 songs written about 11 different works of art – won seven awards at The New Mexico Music Awards, making him the biggest winner in their history. This CD includes the song “The Songwriter”, co-written with Grammy winners Mentor Williams and Andy Byrd. Michael Hearne has also written songs with his good friends Shake Russell, Keith Sykes, and many others.
His followup album, The High Road to Taos, also received critical acclaim, with some discriminating reviewers declaring it to be some of his finest work.
“Michael Hearne’s record embodies all that I love about New Mexico. Between his whiskey velvet voice, the evocative songwriting and gorgeous musical production, I found myself profoundly aching for my favorite place in the world” – Eliza Gilkyson
“Once in a while there comes a recording I never tire of playing. ‘My Funny Valentine’ by Chat Baker comes to mind. ‘Come Away With Me’ by Norah Jones is another. It’s like they were recorded only yesterday even though it might be years since they were first released. In January of 2008, I heard Michael Hearne’s High Road To Taos and I knew from the second or third time I played it, and that’s been a lot of plays ago, that this was one of those records I’ll always play and every time I do it will be as fascinating, alluring and inspiring as the first time I played it. It’s a very real classic and it’s my hope it gets the wide audience it so richly deserves.” – Keith Sykes
Just after its release in December 2007, The High Road to Taos landed a coveted position on the KTAOS Top Ten recordings chart for that year. Michael Hearne is now being heard around the world thanks to the internet, old-fashioned regional and national airwaves and because of the legion of loyal fans who continue to request and support “Taos’s own, Mr. Michael Hearne.” A dedicated and eclectic fan base, which spills across borders and state lines and represents a smorgasbord of musical tastes, keeps Hearne perfectly aligned with the spotlight.
“His voice, style and outstanding musicianship blend into one beautiful gem. It’s no wonder Michael’s work will stand the test of time, as he remains the artist who captures the musical essence of the southwest. Like it’s second nature. That’s because it is.”
He and his band South By Southwest (a.k.a. SxSW) are best described as country swing/southwestern Americana. Loyal fans who continue to pack dance halls, clubs and house concert venues listen and two step the night away to Hearne and the sounds of long time band members Carmen Acciaioli, a musical master of the steel guitar, fiddle, mandolin, dobro, and hammered dulcimer; and the extremely talented Zeke Severenson on stand up and electric bass.
Today, Michael is often found touring across the southwest with fellow songwriter Shake Russell (with Mike Roberts on bass) in support of Michael & Shake’s recently released duo album Only As Strong As Your Dreams. In addition to the new duo album Michael and Shake each released brand new solo albums, Red River Dreams (Michael Hearne) and Little Bright Band of Light (Shake Russell). Michael is also the promoter of the annual Big Barn Dance Music Festival held in Taos, NM each fall. For more information about Michael Hearne’s Big Barn Dance visit BigBarnDance.com.