Michael Gay is a Minneapolis-based country folk storyteller. Starting off as a drummer and finding his way to guitar, he was inspired by the singer-songwriters of his dad’s generation--Willie Nelson, John Prine, and Jerry Jeff Walker.
“I dove into that world head-first,” Michael says. “I love thrift stores, and I'd just buy whatever I could find for a dollar or two that had a name on it I recognized. '70s singer-songwriters and outlaw country was kinda what got the wheels turning because it was cheap/free at the time. But my dad's record collection is where it started to come together for me.”
Born in Denver and raised in Rochester, MN, Michael studied history at the University of Minnesota with the intention of teaching high school social studies until he moved to Minneapolis’ vibrant NE neighborhood and was drawn to the bands and songwriters playing corner bars like the 331 Club. He was hooked.
Best known for his project Almighty American, Michael quickly established his place among the Twin Cities’ finest Americana artists, winning fans and media praise for his honest, accessible songwriting. “Bus Brakes,” the single from Almighty American’s first full-length album Somewhere Ride (2017) was featured on The Current, drew comparisons to Jason Isbell and Boxcar Willie and was hailed as “the real deal” (Ear to the Ground Music). A magnetic presence on stage, Michael has opened up for such acts as Margo Price, The Mavericks and Kacy & Clayton.
Going from a full band to a more stripped-down sound, Michael Gay started performing under his own name in 2020, right around the time he started recording his new album in Nashville. Coming out of those sessions with more than enough for an album, he released the single “Long, Cold Winter” -- “a song that brings to mind John Prine, both through its sound and its wry, witty lyrics” (Americana UK). Released with the B-side “Good Night,” the track made a splash on folk and Americana radio. Now, with the release of his full-length album Make It Right (June 18, 2021), he solidifies his place as one of the young songwriters to watch. Produced by John James Tourville and mixed/mastered by Paul Oldham, the album evokes the heartfelt storytelling of Guy Clark and the layered musical sensibility of Josh Ritter.
When not making his own music and not living through a pandemic, Michael Gay works as a tour manager and produces the Pony Rug live music video series, which has featured Minneapolis-based songwriters like Chris Koza, Vicky Emerson, and The Lowest Pair’s Palmer T. Lee. He dabbles in leatherwork, tinkering with motorcycles and woodworking. And he still loves thrift stores.