About Mike

In 1997, Mike Rosenthal left his job as a news reporter in a hardscrabble Maine mill town and moved to Austin, Texas to pursue a career in music. He’d abandoned the stage five years before, seeking stability and sobriety. But, the stillness of rural life eventually proved stifling. He loaded a moving truck and, nearly sight unseen, chose Austin for its long-time reputation as a music hub.

He arrived in a city in the throes of a technology boom. Recent college grads and young professionals flocked to jobs at dot-com startups and global technology firms. Upscale eateries and boutiques moved in next to family Mexican restaurants and body shops. Many fretted about the negative impact of the new wealth. But Rosenthal was delighted to finally be where the action was.

He wasted little time recording a demo, assembling a band and pestering the local clubs for stage time. To recruit audiences for midnight weekday performances, he hijacked names from group e-mails, hung flyers and accosted unwitting customers at the bakery where he’d taken a counter job.

Early performances were a commanding – if slightly comical -- display of pure energy, unleashed angst and simple joy over a life remade and a dream in the making. A sweat-drenched, bespectacled Rosenthal would stalk the stage in an adrenaline- and Coca-Cola-fueled fury, launching himself into awkward stage acrobatics and abusing an out-of-tune Fender telecaster. The current resurgence in country-rock helped his cause considerably. His sound and songwriting had a distinct country flavor, owing largely to his father’s love of Nashville country and bluegrass.

His debut 2000 release was a heartfelt collection of songs about break-ups and lonely winters back east. Stylistically, it reflected a young songwriter still finding his bearings. While definitely country-inspired, the ten tracks also borrowed heavily from new wave, punk, classic rock and a wide range of singer-songwriters. Its honesty and stylistic schizophrenia charmed regional critics, who offered warm reviews and included him on best-new-artist and favorite-release lists. Various local radio stations took interest. And the release of the album on the Web garnered interest from fans and music aficionados in other parts of the country and Europe. To support the release, he performed constantly, traveling extensively throughout Texas as well as to the East and West coasts. He was tireless in his efforts, acting as his own publicist, booking agent, tour manager and bookkeeper.

Meanwhile, Rosenthal’s moderate exercise habit had transformed into a distance running obsession. With his awkward gate, sweat-drenched mane, and sheer speed, he became a regular top-ten finisher at local races, including the widely publicized Austin marathon. The local press took interest as did one of the city’s most popular radio morning shows, resulting in regular guest spots and performances that helped widen his audience.

In 2002, he released Movin’ In, an ode to pure pop with a plush production sound and little trace of the twang that suffused earlier efforts. Though the album alienated some fans of his earlier, more intimate work, it ultimately further expanded a small but loyal fan base. Strong sales, a heavy performance schedule, favorable reviews and his appearance in a local music industry documentary brought more notoriety. It also brought the record label interest he’d so desperately hoped would come.

However, after roughly a year of determined grass roots promotion and no solid record deal, Rosenthal retreated, disillusioned by one too many unreturned phone calls and a career that had become more focused on success than making music.

When the dust settled about two years later, he emerged a married man, a father, and the owner of a small home with a sprawling lawn on a corner lot just south of the city proper. He’d also parlayed his writing skills into a full-time advertising job. Meanwhile, he’d returned to performing and composing regularly, this time abandoning the quest for fame in favor of pure artistic expression – untainted by concerns about audience or listener perception.

Finally, Rosenthal headed back into the studio, spurred on by those close to him as well as unexpected interest by the local CBS affiliate in a multi-part series about his career. As the eight segments aired over several weeks, Rosenthal began recording his latest album.

Entitled Home, it marks a natural return to the plain-spoken intimacy of his early work. Clean arrangements feature an ever-present acoustic guitar, warm keyboards, melodic bass lines and conversational vocals. Yet, stylistically, the album remains true to Rosenthal’s undying love of FM radio rock. A close listen tells the story of a man dealing with personal change, finding love, negotiating loss and, perhaps most of all, finding his place.