“First time I ever heard Waylon Jennings,” says Michael Perry, “was on an 8-track tape in a four-wheel drive truck doing sixty miles an hour down a Wyoming hay meadow. We were running late for Bible study.” His original songs are a direct reflection of that experience. Ranging from straight-up twang to churchly harmonies and populated by characters drawn straight from rural and small-town America, they launch from places like the overpass outside Perry’s beloved hometown of New Auburn, Wisconsin (population currently 562), a gospel service in a granary, and the kitchen floor of a woman about to drop a world of hurt on her drunken husband. “I was raised by farmers and preachers and tough country women, and I suppose my songs reflect that,” says Perry. “Then again, certain wisdoms are available only from whistlers, frauds, and sinners, so I try to slide them a line or two as well.”
Raised in a church so austere that hymns were sung with no choir, no accompaniment, and no church (the congregation met in a farmhouse and sat on straight-backed wooden chairs) Perry and his brother learned to sit side-by-side and work out harmonies on the fly. Those Sunday mornings instilled in Perry a love of singing “clear and pure” that can be heard throughout all of his recordings.
Perry began writing songs in the early 1990s during long nights when he was struggling to survive on prose (he is the author of numerous books including: Population 485, Truck, The Scavengers, and the New York Times bestseller Visiting Tom). With no arts background (he has a nursing degree) he found himself drawn especially to the work of poets and singer/songwriters. (In interviews Perry tends to list his greatest literary influences as Dylan Thomas and Steve Earle – and not necessarily in that order.) “I remember writing late one night and hearing a Kevin Welch song with the line, ‘I whiskey’d up my coffee cup… sittin’ here tryin’ not to call you up,’” says Perry, “and I was floored by the rhythm and the story in that single line…” He began writing songs as a way to break up all-night typing sessions, and eventually he had enough of them that a musician friend invited him to play at a coffee shop. “I’m not saying I was nervous, but I ripped out a sixty-minute set list in thirty-two minutes flat,” says Perry. By 2004, he had begun recruiting the Long Beds. In 2006, he released his first album, Headwinded.
Since then Michael has released 4 albums, several singles, and toured backed by a collection of renowned musicians who have performed on numerous stages throughout the world (including The Tonight Show, Austin City Limits, and Eaux Claires festival) and worked with a host of artists, including Bon Iver, S. Carey, The Staves, Miley Cyrus, Lizzo, Field Report, The Tallest Man on Earth, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and many more.
Every Long Beds show is built on roughneck ballads and freight train rockers interspersed with uproarious stories from Mike’s diverse experience as a Wisconsin farm kid turned cowboy turned nurse turned best selling author.
Michael Perry resides with his family on a small farm in rural Wisconsin.