Musician, singer and songwriter Michael Carlos, 38, blends an eclectic mix of musical styles with razor-sharp lyrics to create compositions that have earned him critical acclaim and a growing fan base in the Pacific Northwest.
Currently based in Wenatchee, Washington, Carlos grew up California’s San Joaquin Valley. As a Latino child adopted by Caucasian parents, Carlos was often mistaken as the son of migrant farm workers. His experiences living in San Joaquin Valley’s cultural divide and the search for his own identity has helped to shape his music, which critics have lauded for covering a “wide range of musical territory.” Carlos draws from a diverse array of styles, ranging from indie rock, alt-country, Latin, pop and blues. He sees his music as one way of bridging the cultural divide and connecting with his audiences, both white and Hispanic.
As a child, Carlos learned piano from his grandmother, who was a ragtime pianist. He later picked up the guitar, which he taught himself to play by listening to blues recordings. He also plays harmonica and the accordion.
While a college student at UCLA, Carlos formed his first band and played acoustic classic rock cover songs in a coffee house on campus. A few years later, he formed another cover band while in grad school at the University of Oklahoma and began experimenting with the use of strings with a fellow band member and cellist.
After finishing school and moving to Chicago, Carlos began writing his own songs, and in 2004, released his debut album, Yesterday’s Icons. The album won acclaim for its “prose-like” lyrics and “smart, sardonic humor.”
In 2008, he followed up the political and cultural satire of Yesterday’s Icons with a more personal voice in his second album, Damage and Remainder. Some of the songs were a catharsis for Carlos in grieving the deaths of his father and then a year later, his girlfriend, who died in an automobile accident which nearly claimed his own life as well. The album features two Spanish-language songs, “Jenny’s Cumbia” and “Playerita,” which illustrate Carlos’ growing versatility and deepening connection with his Latin roots.
Carlos and his band were voted North Central Washington's Favorite Musician/Band in the Wenatchee World Readers Poll in 2005. They have played the Northwest Folklife Festival, the University District Street Fair and many other clubs and venues across the Northwest.
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