Born: January 3, 1953 Primary Instrument: Guitar, acoustic
With his honey-warm voice and earthy, uplifting lyrics, Seattle-based singer/songwriter Michael Tomlinson’s songs comfort the weary soul. Drawing upon folk, smooth jazz, and Americana, Tomlinson’s songs unfold with an easygoing charm and crystalline clarity, driven by his moving, poetic narratives. Tomlinson’s latest album, The Way Out West, ﬁnds him reﬂecting on his life, how the experiences of his past have taught him compassion and helped him appreciate the stunning beauty of his beloved Paciﬁc Northwest.
The Way Out West could be seen as a journal of the two decades of his life since Tomlinson left his home in Austin, Texas, and made Seattle his home. On the cover, Tomlinson is seen in silhouette holding his guitar as he walks among bold outlines of trees; the brilliant blue of the sky lending a sense that he is embarked on a new beginning. The title track describes the grief of leaving all he knew behind, while the wind-swept strains of “Seattle Skies” conveys his life long love of changing seasons and natural elements.
Tomlinson moved to Washington State after a homemade cassette of his song, “The Climb,” became the most-requested track of all time on popular Seattle FM radio station, KEZX. The station had developed its ownprogressive music format that would eventually become known as Adult Album Alternative (AAA), and Tomlinson’s friendly hybrid of folk and rock, with a jazz-inﬂected vocal delivery, was greeted with wide enthusiasm. Inspired by the smashing reception from KEZX and its listeners, Tomlinson recorded and self-released his debut LP, Run This Way Forever. Made available through his Desert Rain label, the record sold 15,000 copies in its ﬁrst month in Seattle. It eventually moved over 100,000 units nationally as other independent radio stations began adding cuts from the album in high rotation.
By his second LP, Tomlinson had signed with a new L.A. record company. The album, Still Believe, earned Tomlinson his ﬁrst Top-10 Adult Contemporary hit, “Dawning On a New Day,” and he headlined major theaters across the country as a result of its success. However, an amicable relationship with the label was short-lived. By his fourth record, Tomlinson had grown disenchanted with the company, and when he discovered that the label was secretly shifting his contract to a larger, international company, he rebelled, eventually regaining all of the rights to his previous work. Tomlinson then revived his Desert Rain label, freeing himself from corporate obligations and creative interference. In addition to writing and recording music, Tomlinson has hosted nearly a decade of weekend retreats called, A Gathering of Friends, on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, offering his music as a means to bring people together in friendship and goodwill. This spirit of this humanhood is very much alive in his music today.
The whole sell-out crowd at Michael Tomlinson's concert connected deeply with his intimate performance and propelled him to a graceful two-hour troubadour tour-de-force of singing and story-telling. ~ Beau Brendler, Anchorage Times
Michael Tomlinson's music truly explores the issues of the heart. ~ James Redfield, Author of The Celestine Prophecy
Michael's CDs feature his appealing tenor and melody-rich songs that focus on healing and unity among humankind through understanding and honest communication. ~ John Roos, LA Times
Through the years of my broadcast experience Michael has always had the ability to turn the ear, I've made many friends playing his music and the wait for his Florida appearance was so worth it. The pleasure of his melodies, lyrics and voice and the great sense of clarity, incredible! ~ Sunny Robbins, WDDR - FM, Florida
Tomlinson's music conveys an obvious spirituality, not necessarily in the religious sense. His song writing explores human emotions and reaches the listener - going straight for the heart. ~ Tom De Savia, Cash Box
I don't know of very many singer/songwriters who can stamp quality craftsmanship on every single album they've released. Michael Tomlinson can! With every opportunity I get to recommend music, he's first on my list. ~ Sandy Shore, KXDC, Monterey Bay, CA
Tomlinson is rare in the music world of catchy lyrics and elaborate techniques, He gives it to you straight. His genial voice offers a comfortable, down to earth feeling and it's easy to believe what he sings. ~ Nancy J. Caldwell, LA Jazz Scene
There's no preachiness in his songs of love and love of Earth, just the voice of a regular guy. ~ The Seattle Weekly
Tomlinson is thoughtful, passionate, upbeat and fresh in a contradictory world. ~ Kelly Gilbert, Baltimore Evening Sun
Tomlinson is a singer whose allure is simplicity and honesty. It's the lyrics of his songs and how he sings them that makes Tomlinson stand apart. ~ Steve Cole, Anchorage Times
Calling Me Back to the Wild is a delight from beginning to end. The tastefully produced collection of melodies benefits from a singing voice that could wring sunlight from an eye-chart. Like such kindred artists as Bruce Cockburn, Danny O'Keefe and David Wilcox, Michael demonstrates that he's got a stronger-than-ever grasp on the form. ~ Wood & Steel Magazine
Michael's music is rich in reflections, while celebrating the passionate love felt between people. ~ Ann Buzenburg, The Celestine Journal
I highly recommend Michael's songs to anyone with a desire to open their heart. ~ John Lee, Author of The Flying Boy
A voice unequalled by any other male singer I know. His uncanny ability to cascade over a series of notes while singing only one syllable seduces the senses. His lyrics are fired with energy and ripe with emotion. ~ Victory Music Review
Michael Tomlinson is one of the most gifted singer/song-writers of this or any other decade. He has the rare ability to touch listeners hearts. His fans are passionate about his music. ~ Rob Moore, Program Director - KCFE, Minneapolis
Tomlinson's melodic, jazz-inflected songs deal with the need to be honest with others...his clear, breezy tenor is strikingly beautiful. ~ Gene Stout, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Besides having a clear, strong voice, Michael is a wonderful poet and lyricist. His songs speak to the feelings of love, delight, introspection, joy and pathos, creating for the listener a sense of community with both the artist and the entire planet. ~ Rhonda Dicksion, Seattle's New Times
The best concert I have ever been to! ~ Kristi Renkievicz, Route 41 Magazine
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