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When you think of Milwaukee, Wisconsin you don’t think of country music. I mean, where would you expect to find country music in the land of beer, cheese and wide open spaces? Well, that’s exactly where you would find Rocky Comfort Records artist Michael Scott in his formative years. But it wasn’t just his Milwaukee location that gave him the inspiration to do country. Most of his introduction to country came through life on the road working with his parents. Michael says, “I like to say I was born ‘driven’ ! I got my music education and road experience all in the back seat of a car!”
Michael’s father, a Nashville native, singer and booking agent, moved from Nashville to Milwaukee before Michael was born. For years it was life between Tennessee and Wisconsin. He says joking, “We went back and forth so many times I just started telling people I was raised on I-65.” The cool thing about those travels, though, was it gave Michael the chance to hear some of country’s greats through his father’s car stereo. “My father would listen to his favorite country music artists and those 8-10 hour rides became my music classes. I had some of country music’s classic teachers like Stonewall Jackson, Mel Tillis, Merle Haggard, Mel Street, Johnny Bush and the one who made the strongest impression on me, George Jones.” Time has also given Michael the chance to appreciate the newer artists like Ronnie Milsap, George Strait and Keith Whitley.
As a teen Michael became the DJ for his high school. He was recognized by one of Milwaukee’s biggest DJ companies who offered Michael a job a few years later. From this, Michael branched out to form his own mobile DJ company. While working weddings and nightclubs, Michael did take the chance to get up and sing at a few gigs. That’s where club owners Bob Hammond and Dick Bauer of Bronco Billy’s heard Michael’s talents. They even helped him finance his first country recording, “Hey Baby”, which enjoyed a lot of local airplay. It even inspired a local line dance called the, “Hey Baby Boogie”.
This attention did compel Michael to further pursue a career in country. Two independent CDs came from this called, “Rough Ride”, and “Loud And Rowdy (Obnoxious, If Necessary). From here, he put a band together, fronted the band, acted as booking agent, tour manager and business manager. This group toured the regional circuit playing nightclubs, casinos and festivals. It was then the bug to travel to Nashville bit Michael hard. Just like everyone else, though, he encountered the typical rejection usually associated with the entertainment industry. But those who give up easy never make it in this business, and Michael didn’t expect to give up without a fight. In firing the first shot, Michael decided he would let people hear his music by setting up a PA system on the sidewalk in downtown Nashville. While he wasn’t looking for the tips that were thrown his way, he was really doing it for the exposure. He says, “People would want to throw tips in my guitar case, but I told them I wasn’t playing because I was hungry, I was playing with the hope that if they liked my music they’d buy my CD.”
It looked like everything wasn’t going Michael’s way in his career pursuit. One day, though, while just throwing a football around Music Row (and who doesn’t) with the express intent on being able to tell friends they had “played Music Row”. This crazy experience came out with a not so crazy opportunity. He says, “We were in between the Curb Building and the United Artists Tower, and my buddy, Chico, threw one deep. I ran backwards to make the catch and bumped into some guy and knocked his hat off. When I turned around and saw his face I looked at him and said, “Oh, my God, you’re Garth Brooks!”
Michael has shared the stage with several of country’s greatest. That includes performers like George Jones, Reba, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Montgomery Gentry, Sugarland, Neal McCoy and Tracy Lawrence. Within a year of performing with Tracy, Michael signed with Tracy’s label, Rocky Comfort Records. Michael’s first CD, “Bring It On”, shows what great music can come from an artist who feels comfortable with his home. He says, “It really is home for me. Rocky Comfort doesn’t feel like a record label. It feels comfortable and it’s family-friendly. Tracy and Laney (Tracy’s brother) can see beyond the ‘business’ and have allowed me to just ‘be’. They’ve not tried to change me or my music and have encouraged me to focus on my creativity which, in turn,has enabled me to grow-as a person and as an artist.”
If you’d like to find out more about Michael take a look at his feature on our vodcast or his home page at Rocky Comfort Records: