Nashville was where Mike Sales thought he would find his musical groove when he struck out on his own after touring for six years with his cover band, Crashparty.
While he didn’t burn up the town with his musical talent, he did cultivate a strong business acumen.
But feeling stuck in a rut of night club management, Sales traveled with a friend with ties in Ellenton to Florida with visions of opening a club. Little did he know, a laidback Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast would provide his perfect storm — just the right mix to stir up a recording career.
In the five years since he first moved to Anna Maria Island, Sales has come a long way — from seeing club owners who asked, “Who is this guy looking for gig?” to settling in behind the microphone at several Island venues, including the Sandbar and BeachHouse restaurants.
“I’ve found Anna Maria Island an awesome place to live and work,” he said. “The people here are so receptive, the audience participates and business owners are not just accessible, but are nice. It’s a perfect place to make a living.”
Sales said he worked hard to carve out a niche for himself on the Island music scene and, now he’s to seeing positive results from applying his business acumen to the art of entertaining.
On Wednesday, Feb. 23, Sales will not only debut his first recorded album, “Howling with Mike Sales,” but he also will debut his band, Mike Sales and the Restless Natives.
Sales has been performing as a solo artist, but adding a live rhythm section with John Dewey on bass and Scott Blum on drums provides new opportunities to perform his “beachified” music.
“Beachified music gets right into the song but is still laid back,” said Sales. “People on the Island like to come to the party early and my musical arrangements aren’t filled with a lot of solos. I like to keep them engaged with the song and keep the energy up on the dance floor.”
Sales is building a name for himself as “Mr. Anna Maria Island” after a reporter coined the name in an article about the Island singer. The title resonated with him in the tradition of Don Ho of Hawaii and Wayne Newton of Las Vegas, whose musical styles became synonymous with a geographic location.
Sales aims to brand himself as the Island’s foremost beach crooner. At the same, time his ambitions are not wholly centered upon himself.
He hopes to see proceeds from his CD provide seed money to open up an Anna Maria Island Performance Hall. The hall would not only be a live music venue, but would also house a musician’s co-op.
“It’s hard when you’re starting out or new to an area to get your footing in the music business,” said Sales. “I want to give musicians a place to gather and learn from each other.”
He also sees the co-op as a place for venues to vet musicians and to foster education programs for kids aspiring to enter the music industry.
“I’d love to see the music hall with a musical lineup during tourist season and summer camp programs in the off season,” said Sales.
His dream for the performance hall are in the early stages, so fans will have to stay tuned for news on its progress.
Sales maintains a blog, website and social media, and anyone interested in finding show dates or keeping up with his projects can visit online at www.mikesalessings.com.
Mike Sales and the Restless Natives will hit the Island music scene with a preview performance and CD release party from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23, at Gulf Drive Cafe and Tiki Hut, 900 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach — and everyone’s welcome to the event.
Sales promises a “howling good time.”