At age seven, Michael started playing piano, fitting in his time around his older brother’s lessons. After realizing that their youngest son was the one developing a passion for the instrument, Michael’s parents extended lessons to include him. Michael then studied classical piano and theory under George Thurgood and Larysa Kuzmenko for the next 16 years at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Early exposure to albums by Ray Charles and Oscar Peterson quickly led to a new love of blues and jazz. Michael soon started playing shows around town and it wasn’t long before he was bitten by the thrill of live performance. It was at this point that Michael decided to further explore non-classical piano. His education took him to Boston’s renowned Berklee College of Music and upon returning to Toronto, Michael was fully committed to playing live music as a professional keyboard player.
Initially, Michael started playing around the city at various venues, often frequenting C’est What’s original singer-songwriter night on Sundays . It was there he met and became friends with Terence Gowan. Gowan’s interest in Michael’s skills as an organ and accordion player earned Michael a spot in the band Revival Dear. Under Terence’s guidance, Michael began to learn the finer art of playing rock keyboards. In 2006, The Dakota Tavern opened and a whole new world of roots and Americana tinged music became his focus. Michael started playing with The Beauties at The Dakota, which then lead to playing with many other bands who frequented the venue, including Oh Susanna and Justin Rutledge.
Fast forward to 2008 when Blue Rodeo was looking for a new piano player. The band’s bass player, Bazil Donovan, asked his friend, singer songwriter, Justin Rutledge for a recommendation. Justin told him he had to audition “Bogu”. After exploring his background further, Bazil discovered he’d also played with Oh Susanna, another artist Bazil admired and often performed with. Michael began touring with the band and was the primary keyboard player on their album, The Things We Left Behind. Five years has seen Michael touring Canada, the United States, Spain, France and the United Kingdom with Blue Rodeo. Other highlights during this time include Blue Rodeo’s induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the band’s Star on the Walk of Fame.
In addition to his work with Blue Rodeo, Michael has performed and/or recorded with: The Jim Cuddy Band, Greg Keelor, Gordon Pinsent, Travis Good, Serena Ryder, The Beauties, The Great Lake Swimmers, Colin Cripps, The Rattlesnake Choir, Steve Sinnicks, Cuff the Duke, The Sadies. Belle Star, Michelle McAdorey, Steve Earle, Sarah McLachlan, Kevin Drew, Andy Kim, Ron Sexsmith, and Alejandro Escovedo.
Michael observes, “After I started playing in Blue Rodeo, it opened doors for me and I’ve been able to play with people I only dreamed of.”