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Funk, folk and everything in between...
Michael Anthony “The Shankster” Shanks is a world traveling singer-songwriter from the Texas gulf coast. His artistic identity encompasses the likes of a wandering poet, a comedian and a jazz musician whose songs weave together exhilarating improvisations with dreamy and often humorous lyrics. This original tapestry of sounds frequently has audiences on their feet dancing and laughing at the same time as each composition explores a funky melting pot of music from around the globe. His latest album release, Shankster Style, incorporates all these elements highlighting Shanks’s “powerful guitars that seduce you at every turn.” (Adrian Quevedo, Scatter Records)
The inspiration behind Michael’s unique musical style lies within his personal adventures. From the dingy tango bars of Buenos Aires to the gaudy hipster hideouts of Seattle, Michael has met and worked with people from all walks of life. His songwriting reflects the characters, landscapes and melodies that he has encountered while out on the trail. His forte is melding all these distinct experiences together to create something soulful and fresh to the ears.
Born in Houston and raised on Beethoven and CCR, he moved to Austin in 2002 to pursue a degree in ethnomusicology, the study of world music, at the University of Texas. In Austin Michael was the founder and chief songwriter of Ruby’s Jazz Garage, a trio that opened for blues legend Pinetop Perkins at the 311 Club. In 2008 he left Austin to perform with the Mr. Jones Blues Band in Argentina. After his stint with Mr. Jones, Michael stayed there for several years touring the country with Latin pop bands and enjoying the Argentine culture.
Since 2010, he’s been back in the States and his writing and performing have really begun to take off. In 2012, Michael headlined the Katy Guitar Fest and his original music was featured in Brain: the Musical which had a three night run in the Houston Fringe Festival. In 2013, he released his solo album, Shankster Style, which landed him a spot on the Houston television show Is it Art Yet. And last October he completed his first Trippin’ Texas Tour playing a dozen cities across the state. On top of being a solo artist Michael also performs with his band, the Merry Shanksters who have enjoyed a monthly headlining gig at the House of Blues since early 2014. He has also been a sideman for many renowned artists such as Jovino Santos Neto, Down North and Mando Saenz.
Michael continues to tour throughout the region and traverse the intersection of many different sounds, genres and cultures through his music that he calls “funk, folk and everything in between.”