Mike Shackelford Keeps Strumming and Singing

Working on the First Coast: Loving the stage, musician Mike Shackelford has no plans to stop strumming

Mike Shackelford has made his living playing music for a long time now. But he left the road long ago, too. Instead, he’s managed to carve out that living in Jacksonville playing gigs as one guy with an acoustic guitar or as the leader of a full rock band. He’s 61 now, married to Stephanie since 1976, father of three and grandfather of three. And he’s still playing music five nights a week.

Host Make A Difference At Open Mic Nights

Step up to the microphone, plug in your guitar or keyboard — and you have the power. You're amplified. Bigger than life. Both voice and instrument booming. If you're good, you're really good. If you're bad, you're really bad. Like 90 decibels of bad. And, there's this: Everyone knows it. In real time. While you're still up there under the spotlight. In an instant, you could be basking in the applause or, more than anything on earth, wanting to crawl into a deep, dark hole and never come out.

So it's no wonder playing an open mic night — often after months or even years of anticipation and fevered imaginings — performers require a special kind of open mic host or emcee to make them feel ready and at home. Someone to get the instrument and vocal sound levels right, to have the audience primed and ready to receive performances that range from the sublime to, well, the not-ready-for-prime-time. Someone who may even play along with you to help you pace and propel your performance to new levels.