Story and photos by Shane Maland
Artists want to be noticed. Artists need to be noticed. And when that want transcends into need, it helps to know a man like Michael Weiler.
Michael Weiler is the Renaissance artist of Fargo, but not the kind of art that gets your hands dirty and ruins your clothes (well, hopefully). As well as being a musician, Weiler helps to produce and record, promote and expose up and coming musicians around the valley.
Weiler is taking his word-of-mouth skills to the radio waves with a Monday morning radio show premiering later this month on KNDS radio. The show will feature music and interviews with local artists.
No matter the genre or medium, Michael Weiler was born with a voice to be heard throughout the Fargo music scene.
It’s all in the family
Michael was born into a large artistically inclined family with eight kids in all.
“When I was very young we all had to take piano. I took piano for many years, and was very bad at it. But it taught me almost just enough to get by,” said Weiler.
Michael’s father has a Ph.D. in music. His sister, Brenda Weiler, is an accomplished singer/songwriter. She has six albums under her belt, the latest of which was produced by Minneapolis-based Speakerphone Records. His mother and sister Brenda are both involved with the F-M Chamber Chorale. Mark Weiler is known on the local music scene as Dj Guy Jean. He and Brenda also operate Ecce Art and Yoga on Broadway. Another sister, Sarah, works for the art council in Santa Fe, N.M. and performs with the Desert Chorale.
Weiler finds a new twist to an old song
Switching from piano to bass guitar in the early 1980s, Michael began performing with local favorites The Fates and guitar in the 1990s for the group, Slippy Mcgee.
After playing the local circuit, Michael decided to put down his axe and put on his studio headphones. Today, Weiler is helping revitalize downtown Fargo not through his own playing, necessarily, but through recording and exposing young local artists.
“I really like digging around in Fargo and trying to find artists that haven’t really played much, if at all. It’s kind of like when I was young and finding records that no one had ever heard of, or at least I thought no one had ever heard of,” said Weiler.
With a little help from his friends
Michael has helped with the exposure of such groups as Little Winter and Wasted Effort; along with solo artists: Eden Parker, Diane Miller, Brooks West and as many others that are willing to walk the singer/songwriter tightrope, hour by hour and note by note.
“It’s nice to have someone like Michael in the FM area who cares so much about local musicians and local art,” said Little Winter’s lead guitarist, Ryan Weiss. “There’s a lot of great music in the area and he’s willing to spend his spare time working to bring it to the public. As someone who loves to go see live music, I really appreciate that.”
Finding a place to play
Along with his brother, Mark, Michael is bringing in new acts to perform in his Singer/Songwriter Series at Ecce Art and Yoga in May. The gallery is an intimate setting for the small, mostly acoustic artists that Michael helps out. It is a venue that is unlike any other in downtown Fargo. Weiler is also putting on a show at the new Red Raven Espresso Parlor on April 16.
“Downtown always brings about that kind of alternative edge to things, I have always thought,” said Weiler. “All the great stuff, whether it be music or art, seems to congregate downtown. I think that is what has always happened here too, or is happening.”
It’s a long, cold winter for performing
Though the revitalization of downtown Fargo has spread to the music scene, there is still one factor that will annually turn people away and keep promoters from turning around the “open” sign; the winter.
“I think the local scene is good and not so good. It kind of depends on what is important to you as an artist. Fargo in general is a severe microcosm of what other cities are going through, too. But it is tough here for a lot of reasons, winter being one of them,” said Weiler.
How to go from wanting to being
No matter the season; no matter how much snow packs his driveway or river-water floods his recording studio basement; Michael Weiler will do what he can to please the musicians that are stepping over the threshold of wanting to be noticed and into the world of being noticed.
“I am a fan first, and always will be,” said Weiler. “It’s more of a need, it’s my drug in a way. It always has been.”
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Edited by Mark Radcliffe, MSUM Advertising/PR major