Submitted by Chana Schwartz
When I was in college in the Bay Area, a friend started taking me to the New Varsity Theater to hear concerts of some of the Windham Hill artists playing there. The first concert we went to was Michael’s and I remember how I sat there entranced by the magical sounds he was making! It was a 4D experience, felt like I was transported to another universe. I’d never seen anyone play guitar like that before.
I’m also a composer/songwriter, and hearing Michael and other Windham artists play inspired me to start composing piano compositions a la Windham Hill style as well. I went to many concerts there, and one evening after the concert, the place started emptying out. So I sat at the piano and started playing one of my songs. One of Michael’s friends, I believe his name was Paul (he was Michael’s mechanic & fixed his van for him) ran up to me all excited after I finished playing and said I could also be an artist on Windham Hill. He wanted me to connect with Michael & the other artists.
So after another concert by MIchael, I went up to talk to him afterwards. He was so humble and available. He was standing near the exit to the theater, like he enjoyed seeing all the people walking out, he seemed to enjoy soaking in the crowd and maybe wanted to connect with everyone more. I told him I was also composing and would love some feedback. He was so down to earth, he gave me his number and told me to come the following week to his house so he could hear what I was doing and give feedback.
I showed up with a home made cassette tape demo (lol, yeah, back in the day of those!). He also shared some of the music he & his wife at the time had both worked on and was so gracious.
It wasn’t just his total musical genius that impressed me, but how kind, humble and down to earth he was, to make time for a young college kid just starting out. Now I’m a pro songwriter and music publisher, collaborating with #1 hit and Grammy nominated writers/artists/producers internationally in a number of genres, songs on radio, TV and film. Back then it was just me & my piano and no connections, no audience. Michael and his friends gave me confidence I had what to offer, and I’m grateful to him til today. Michael and the New Varsity concerts are such a big part of my musical roots and foundation.
I also remember after one concert, Michael’s wife and little baby boy were there and how Michael was so happy to see his boy after the concert. He lifted him up in his arms high in the air, smiling at him, he looked just as entranced by his sweet baby boy as we all were with his music.
Blessing to all of you family and fellow friends of Michael for helping preserve his music and memory and making it much more available.