Born and raised in the heart of Appalachia, Michael Shaun Brown’s musical roots run deep. When you grow up a few miles from the birthplace of country music you tend to have the simple beginnings and the soul of country music in your blood. Brown left his home in Southwest Virginia in 2011 and made his way to Nashville to pursue his career in country music and hone his skills in songwriting and musicianship. He spent time writing and recording by day and performed in the Honky Tonk bars by night.
He played thousands of shows and formed a Southern Rock/Alt Country band called Bone Feather, which made two records and toured all over the country.
Born and raised in the heart of Appalachia. How has the Appalachian music genre inspired your music?
Well, I grew up about thirty minutes from Bristol, TN. For those of you that don’t know, that is where country music got its start back in 1927 — and in Appalachia, everything still revolves around the traditions of the people that came before us. I was raised on old country and bluegrass music, along with some gospel and blues.
The Top 5 Billboard country songs from 2011, the year you moved to Nashville, were “Crazy Girl,” “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” “Take A Back Road,” “Tomorrow,” and “You Lie.” Which Southern Rock/Alt Country artists have most influenced your songwriting?
I was really influenced by bands like the Allman Brothers Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The Marshall Tucker Band on the Southern Rock side of things. Then, I also love great country songwriters too like Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Steve Earle, and Townes Van Zandt…just to name a few.
Until the pandemic struck in March, you were playing five nights a week at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. Can you share some memories playing with Bone Feather at the venue on Broadway?
Tootsies was pretty much my home away from home the entire time that I lived in Nashville. The staff there is like family to me and I have countless friendships that wouldn’t have been possible without that big purple palace on Broadway and all of its sister bars. Some of the most memorable nights at Tootsies have been like when Toby Keith would come hang out with us and get on stage for a few songs — or the night that P!NK came over after her show at the Bridgestone Arena to hang out and sing a song with us. We’ve even had other movie stars and sports legends like Chris Pratt and John Daly at our shows before. You just never know what kind of night you’re going to have at Tootsies.
After venues were shuttered when the quarantine went into effect, you looked for a stable job to support your family. Along with your wife, you also wanted to raise your daughter in a more rural setting, like you both had been as children. You accepted a job offer in Missouri to build bridges. What has been the most challenging part of the job to date?
That’s right. My wife and I were both affected by COVID-19 and we were both put out of work. I had the opportunity to take this job on a bridge crew working for Lehman Construction up here in Missouri, so I did. I will have to say that the most challenging part of this job is just completely having to shift gears from a career that I had 15 or so years of experience in, to a job that I had absolutely no experience in and trying to keep up. But, I think that I’ve been adjusting decently well and this job has really helped my family tremendously through this very difficult year.
The rest of the band (Bruce, Alan, CJ) remained in Nashville. Have you been able to work on new music together since the move?
We have gotten to work on a few things here and there and I feel sure that there will be more music coming out in 2021 that will have the guys on there!
“It is real and raw and everything I intended it to be when I started writing it.” Releasing “From The Start,” a song you wrote for your wife Aaryn as a surprise for your wedding day. You wrote the lyrics, played every instrument except one, and mixed the song. Fellow artist Christopher Griffins laid down the bass track and did the mastering. What makes this track especially raw for you?
Just the fact that I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and said “okay, I’m going to do this” -knowing that I was going to do it by myself as much as possible and have a hand in every single thing that makes this song what it is. I think that makes it as real as it gets. I just approached it like this….. “Hate it or love it…… This is who I am and this is what I can do,” and I hope that mentality resonates with the listener. And I honestly think that it does.
Jamming to Lynyrd Skynyrd with your daughter. With her passion for music similar to yours, do you see her following your footsteps career wise?
Possibly. I will never pressure her to pursue music on any level. But, she has loved music pretty much since the day she was born. It is so amazing to me. I guess what I’m trying to say is that time will tell how involved she wants to be with her love for music.
What is your outlook on the state of the live music industry in 2021?
I just want to get back to being able to book out a bunch of shows and introduce more people to my music in 2021. I also want all of my brothers and sisters in the music industry to grow and prosper. I can’t say whether live music will get back to “normal” in 2021, but I sure do hope that it does.