Security Blanket

By making beautiful music, Keith Michaud arms himself against adversity

Being driven to court from jail, Michaud saw through a barred window the back end of a bar where he had played. "I remembered hundreds of people loving my music," he says, "and how none of the other guys with me in that truck had that... how lucky I was."

Here things begin to reek of pop-culture, preacher-in-the-pokey cornballism. I'm tempted to ask the bartender for the check and head home. Is this guy's veracity to be trusted? But Michaud's easy, comfortable manner imbues his tale with a take-it-or-leave-it sincerity. Such cockeyed authenticity permeates his music.

Outside the restaurant on Clematis, one homeless man and then another approach us. Michaud handles them with the respect and grace of a movie star signing autographs. The first, going alternately by the names Mark, Luke, and John, is not familiar with Michaud's music but fires questions at him about his influences. Joe Satriani is mentioned as a peripheral inspiration. Further probing produces only more ancillary musical mentors. Michaud ends the conversation with the sweet innocence of a true believer: "You're influencing me right now."

Forest for the trees: Michaud's music is universal yet deeply personal.
Colby Katz
Forest for the trees: Michaud's music is universal yet deeply personal.

It is 4:13 a.m., and the streetlights bask Michaud in a yellow glow. Yet another night of libations and finding a ride home (Michaud confesses that "transportation is an issue for me") is coming to an end. He's surrounded by local music impresarios, promoters, club owners, musicians, a dog, and a music journalist. He is flirting with a pale beauty who recalls "the shadow of a white rose in a mirror of silver," to quote from Wilde's Salome.

Is Michaud a John the Baptist, his head to be served up on the block once again for lust and love, or is he at the verge of an Almost Famous breakthrough? Is the plunging plane going to smash into the ocean, or will it rise again à la that fantasy rock film? Check Michaud's amiable smile and the fact that, except for the dog, he is the center of attention for your answer. Life just might be getting better.

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