Michael Weston King

Michael Weston King

BandAmericanaSinger/Songwriter

Acknowledged as one of Britain's finest singer songwriters, admired by the likes of Chris Hillman, Ron Sexsmith, and the legendary Townes van Zandt (who recorded one of Michael's songs), he draws his influence from a wide range of styles, from Pop to Folk, from Country music to Soul.

Biography

Michael Weston King was born in Derbyshire in 1961 but brought in the sleepy Lancastrian seaside town of Southport. A grammar school education (he attended the same seat of learning as Marc Almond, although Almond was 4 years his senior), should have resulted in a university place, but firstly the influence of Marc Bolan and then, when he was 16, The Clash and Elvis Costello, led him to get a job and a down payment on a Fender Telecaster. He cut his musical teeth in various bands on the edge of the late 70’s/early 80’s Liverpool post punk scene, performing at the famed Eric’s club just prior to it’s closure, and leaving two singles and one "cassette only album" gathering dust on the shelves of the legendary Probe Records. "When the dream of becoming contemporaries to the likes of Elvis Costello and The Teardrop Explodes vanished, along with numerous managers who tried to steer us in a direction I hated (don’t forget it was the time of Tears For Fears!), along with too many bad record deals that never bore fruit, I took my acoustic guitar and headed for the folk clubs."

By the mid 80’s, inspired by the latest wave of overseas bands such as REM, Green On Red, The Dream Syndicate and The Triffids, whose influences mirrored his own newly found interest in Gram Parsons, Hank Williams, The Byrds, as well as the new wave of country acts such as Lyle Lovett, Dwight Yoakham and Nanci Griffith, he joined forces with some like minded souls and spent the next four years touring Europe with the country rock band Gary Hall and The Stormkeepers. Releasing two albums and two singles along the way, one for the major label BMG, but eventually tired and disillusioned, and with more than their share of personality clashes, the band split in 1991. However it was at this time that Michael really came of age musically. Hand picking the best musicians out of a clutch of country influenced rock bands that had sprung up in and around the Manchester/Preston area, (including bass player Sean McFetridge from The Stormkeepers, and Phil Abram and Ben Jackson from Mirrors Over Kiev) he formed The Good Sons.

Taking their name from the Nick Cave album, The Good Son, they set about trying to proffer an authentic British alternative to, what for them, was the most exciting form of music currently on offer, and hailing from America, the burgeoning Alt. Country movement.

Beginning life as a five piece, their first shows took place in Ireland and various low key gigs in the north of England as they honed King’s songs around the Robbie Robertson-esque guitar style of Phil Abram, swirling Hammond organ, and driving acoustic guitars. "I wanted to combine my love of songwriters such as Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Springsteen and Townes Van Zandt with the contemporary country rock feel of The Jayhawks and Uncle Tupelo"

In 1995 they signed to the hip German label Glitterhouse (formerly the European arm of Sub Pop), who released their debut album, Singing The Glory Down to much critical acclaim, with the band drawing instant and favourable comparisons with their current U.S. counterparts The Jayhawks, Son Volt , Steve Earle and Joe Henry.

The album also featured a guest appearance by the legendary Townes Van Zandt with whom Michael had toured Europe in 1994 and 1995. The two had become good friends and he didn’t hesitate when asked to duet on the song Riding The Range, Michael’s side-swipe at British weekend cowboys. A few months before his death Townes cut his own version of the song with Nashville bluegrass band The Calvins, this version eventually being released as a 7 inch vinyl single in 1999.

The band continued to tour, opening for the likes of Joe Ely, Blue Rodeo and Joe Henry, as well as numerous headline shows of their own. In 1996 they released the much more acoustic orientated album, The Kings Highway, a chilling collection of intimate songs, mostly written during Michael wilderness years in the folk clubs, and then followed it up in 1997 with the bigger, bolder and altogether more rockier, Wines, Lines and Valentines, their third album in as many year for Glitterhouse. A successful U.K. tour was followed by more shows in Europe and growing interest over in Ireland where the band played a series of shows and appeared on national T.V.

Meanwhile, over in Austin, Texas, Heinz Geissler at Watermelon Records had been given a copy of Singing The Glory Down, just as he was at his lowest ebb within the music industry. The album, "restored my faith in music", and he immediately signed the band. After lengthy negotiations (the band were managed at the time by Nick Cave’s manager Raynor Jessen, and Watermelon were tied in with Sire) a deal was struck, and Wines, Lines and Valentines was both re-packaged, and re-titled, as apparently the American label were rather concerned about the cocaine reference, and, they had plans to release the new title track as a single. Angels In The End (the album) was released in America in February

Discography

1982 -87 Lead singer/songwriter with Fragile Friends

Albums:
Four Play

Singles:
Paper Doll
The Novelty Wears Off

1988 Solo artiste

1989-93
Guitarist with Gary Hall and The Stormkeepers

Albums:
Wide Open To The World

Singles:
Jesus Christ / Lighten Up Your Load Suzanne
Where The River Meets The Sea (EP)

1993 - 2002 Lead singer, guitarist, songwriter with The Good Sons

Albums:
Year Title Label
1995 Singing The Glory Down Glitterhouse (GRCD 379)
1996 The Kings Highway Glitterhouse (GRCD 402)
1997 Wines, Lines & Valentines Glitterhouse (GRCD 427)
1998 Angels In The End Watermelon/Sire (Watermelon CD 10 68) U.S. Release
2001 Happiness Floating World (FW009)
2004
Cosmic Fireworks - The Best of The Good Sons
Sireena Records (Melinda 803)

Singles:
1994 The Good Sons ( E.P.) Own


1999 - present Solo Artiste

Albums:
Year Title Label
1999 God Shaped Hole Glitterhouse (GRCD 463)
2002 Live...In Dinky Town Twah Records (Twah!121)
2002 Live...In Dinky Town Floating World (FW 010)
2003 A Decent Man Floating World (FW 016)
2003 In The Woods (live bootleg) Woods (woods 12)
2004 Absent Friends MurderedWithKindness (MWK001)
2005 The Tender Place : A Collection 1999-2005 Phantasmagoria
2006 Love's A Cover
Glitterhouse (GRCD 657)
2007 A New Kind Of Loneliness Floating World (FW 031)
2008 Crawling Though The USA Valve Records (VALVE #8087)

Singles:
2003 Celestial City Floating World (FW024)


DVD:
2005 OBS 8 - A' la carte Various artists, features Michael Weston King & The Decent Men live at OBS festival Beverungen, Germany June 2004, performing High Days, Holy Days
2007 The Crowning Story - 'From A Good Son to a Decent Man' Michael Weston King 1995 - 2005......a career retrospective (released by Borderdreams)


Michael Weston King songs recorded by other artists:
Riding The Range appears on Rear View Mirror by Townes Van Zandt (Normal203)
Watch My Dreamboats Sail appears on From These Hills by Carolyn Hester (RGFCD 033)
Riding the Range appears on the 7" vinyl single EP entitled Riding the Range by Townes Van Zandt (Exile Records-Ex 7013)
Songs for the next generation (ARC Music Group) A collection of 17 cover versions of songs written by MWK.
Features:
Lost appears on Songdust 3 by Rich Mason (Disques de Rien. Rien0096)


Publications: Beautiful Lies....The Songs of Michael Weston King (Songbook) - Twah! Publishing
Cookin' Fund raising cook book for SNIP (Special Needs Information Point
The Folk Handbook (Backbeat Books) - features MWK's version of the trad. folk song 'What Is The Life Of A Man'

Set List

Regular set length is 70 minutes with about 14 songs.
All songs are orginals but if any covers are included they would be;
A Song For - Townes Van Zandt
No More Songs - Phil Ochs
Young Hearts Run Free - Candi Staton
Simple Twist of Fate - Bob Dylan
Blue, Red and Grey - The WHo