Through a career that spanned five full-length releases with his band Fat Opie, a struggle with a long-term illness and a career as a fine artist, Scott Mickelson has persevered. His debut solo release Flickering, delivered his most critically acclaimed work. Flickering was on the 2015 Grammy Ballot in two categories, “Best Folk Album” and “Best Roots Music Performance”.
Appearances include NPR Radio, Jimmy Lloyd Show (NBC), Huffington Post, CBS Morning Show, Glide Magazine, PopMatters, TheBayBridged, Alternative Press Magazine and a Folk Alliance Showcase. Other accolades include winning a national band search sponsored by MTV/7-Up with a prize of $15,000 and a song in the feature film Along The Way.
In the nineties, Fat Opie was managed by the legendary manager Elliot Roberts/Lookout Management (Neil Young, Tom Petty). While under contract in LA he had the opportunity to work side by side with Grammy arranger Jimmy Haskell (Steely Dan, Chicago, Siman & Garfunkel). At age seventeen he signed his first record deal with DSM Productions in NYC while playing infamous clubs like CBGB's. His colorful earlier years in NY included playing with Dave Van Ronk and receiving career guidance from Sid Bernstein.
Now in San Francisco, Mickelson can be seen performing at The Fillmore and Great American Music Hall. When not touring, Mickelson produces artists from his Marin studio.
Mickelson’s follow up full-length record A Wondrous Life will be released in 2018. On this, he not only produced/engineered it, but he performed all the tracks except drums/horns. A Wondrous Life leans more towards Alt-Rock and is his finest work.
Mickelson has opened for acts that include David Bromberg Quintet, Matt Nathanson, Larry Campbell and Terese Williams (Grammy producer), Jim Lauderdale (Grammy artist), Griffin House, Nick Lowe, Dr. John, Smashmouth, Jonathan Richman, Peter Case and Rob Hotchkiss (Grammy artist).
“I don't burn bright. At least I'm Flickering.”
After weathering a rollercoaster of a career populated by characters ranging from indie labels to major-league managers, penthouse attorneys to shady international distributors Mickelson was then overcome with an undisclosed illness.
For years, Mickelson was unable to perform but never stopped creating. Turning to his background in the visual arts, Mickelson exhibited as an award winning fine artist and his illustrations appeared in magazines and newspapers. He even wrote and illustrated well-received children’s books. Destiny can also be persistent, and it was while planning a solo exhibition in San Francisco that once again Mickelson was lead back to music. “The gallery owner realized that I was Scott M from Fat Opie and she insisted that we play at the art opening,” relates Mickelson. “I told her I didn't perform anymore but in the interest of getting people to my art show I reformed most of Fat Opie, did a couple of rehearsals and played what I’m sure was a horrible set BUT—I never picked up a paintbrush again.”
Diving deep into the visual world had a profound effect on Mickelson, liberating him from his past. In many ways Flickering is the record he’s always wanted to make and completes the evolution into the unique, dynamic artist that’s always been inside him. Says Mickelson, “This is the first time I wrote songs that were 100% personal and without any motivation but to make the most expressive record that I could with whomever I wanted and however I envisioned it. This is my first honest record.”
Lyrically, Flickering inhabits the world we all share, revolving around the challenge of existing in an oppressive culture, inundated by our surroundings. Mickelson is singing the stories of those living their lives in contemporary America, as fragmented as it is. Songs about home, family, loss of family, marriage, relationships that are forever and ones that are slowly dying. More so, Mickelson reminds us that we all need to be aware of how we affect those around us both positively and negatively as we navigate through this life.
When the time came to record Flickering it was the distinctive musical community of San Francisco that joined together to help lift him up. It features nearly two dozen guest artists including members of The Family Crest and other leading Bay Area artists like Jeff Campbell, Megan Slankard and Rivvrs. The record was recorded and produced by Mickelson in his home and mixed by Jay Pellicci (The Dodos, Sleater-Kinney, Deerhoof) at Tiny Telephone in SF.
From the opening piano notes Flickering takes listeners on a surprising and moving journey. Perseverance pays off again, and much like Mickelson himself, you might just find yourself somewhat changed by the time you reach your destination.