Modern Artist - Michael Shanahan from The Accolades


Local talented musician and guitarist for the hard working band, The Accolades, Michael Shanahan certainly is on the right path to success.
Currently in his fifth year at York University’s Jazz Program, he’s performed in a plethora of venues in the GTA and busked in Toronto and for the past two years, Mississauga.
His band, The Accolades, saw its first iteration five years ago where he connected with drummer in their first year at York and each subsequent year, they’ve added a new member. Fast forward to 2017 and they’ve rounded out the lineup, which consists of guitar bass drums keys vocals and horns trumpet trombone sax.  The real rebranding moment came when their singer, Thomas Thurley came on board in 2016. Their unique sound blends funk, rock, soul and reggae, they’re a melting pot when it comes to stylistic influences. 
They released their debut self-titled EP in July of 2016 and recorded it at Mississauga’s Heritage Studios, which was well received. Shanahan and co. have performed as much as possible to support and promote the album over the past 14 months. They are currently in the planning stages for writing a full-length album. While there’s no set date for release, the adage of “good things take time” rings true.
I asked him what his three road-trip artists would be and he quickly replied with Greg Howe, KC Roberts and Guthrie Govan.


As mentioned, Shanahan has busked with the city’s Culture Division and here’s his advice for up and coming buskers for this great experience:
“It’s a matter of trying to know when people will be there and finding the right timing to play to the most amount of people. As a car based city, it can be difficult but not impossible. Be entertaining, engage your audience and pull their attention in… and of course have a plan for your performance. Throw a mix of originals when you have an audience and be well rehearsed.”

As Mississauga is thin on original music venues and opportunities, the Busking program is certainly a step in the right direction to support local musicians that have previously flocked east on the Gardiner for exposure and Shanahan says he learned quite a bit over the past two years of participating in it.


As for other performances, the band books their own gigs as much as possible and fill the gaps by connecting with larger, established bands with hopes of broadening their reach. With the music community being a very supportive one, Shanahan has found success by doing this and is happy to reciprocate whenever possible. 
He also does all the gig bookings and social media management and the balance of 2017 sees the band playing as many gigs as possible inside and outside of the GTA, with an emphasis on wanting to perform at more festivals in 2018.

Regarding boosting the local music scene for original music, Shanahan cites Mississauga’s Matt Zaddy (a very well-seasoned singer/songwriter/musician who’s know far and wide) and his consistent work in hosting Open Mic’s throughout the city, which gives each artist a chance to showcase three songs per Open Mic. That kind of opportunity and exposure and support is so crucial to fostering the development of the next wave of local talent.

There’s still plenty of hard work ahead for both Shanahan and The Accolades but if his recent track record and dedication is an indication of what’s ahead,  the future for this local musician will sound great.