A third generation working musician, Michael's grandfather played big band with Russ David while his father is an accomplished jazz guitarist/vocalist. Michael's first band, "The Eyes," started in high school. He attended the High School for Visual and Performing Arts in St.Louis where he met guitarist Richard Fortus and a partnership was born. The Eyes gained the attention of major label reps and soon became "Pale Divine" on Atlantic Records. However, after many years, creative and personal differences, as the saying often goes, would lead to the band's ultimate demise and a new direction.
After Rich left Pale Divine and began work on Love Spit Love, many suspected that Pale Divine was finished. But the band refused to give up just yet and continued for another seven months with the addition of Bill Christy on guitar. Bill was on loan from The Stranded Lads and was an excellent musician. He replaced Richard's frenetic stage show with a calm sense of technical grace. But evenutally even this resurgence was not enough to prevent the inevitable. Pale Divine played it's final show at Mississippi Nights on February 23rd, 1994.
After a short time, Michael Schaerer began working on a long anticipated acoustic project. During the preparation for what would have been Pale Divine's second album, there were issues with the writing direction of the new songs. Most of the band wanted to shift to a heavier more progressive sound, while Michael was eager to pursue a more low-fi approach on acoustic guitar and piano. What started out as "Michael Schaerer & Friends" featuring Steve Hanock (original bassist for the Eyes and more recently playing with the Stranded Lads) and Jerry Saracini (drummer for the Stranded Lads) quickly turned into a full band when the desire to add an electric guitar to several tracks brought back a couple of familiar faces. Bill Christy from the Stranded Lads returned and shortly after Dan Angenend again replaced Steve Hanock on bass duties. With a full lineup intact and a group of seasoned musicians on board, the name changed to Rainbox.
Rainbox (circa 1995) Dan Angenend, Michael Schaerer, Jerry Saracini, Bill Christy
Early Rainbox showcased the mellow side of Michael's writing with beautiful acoustic guitars and often happy, upbeat vocals. It was equal parts smart pop and elegant brooding introspection, but together it showed the songwriting Michael had been searching to unleash. Live shows even unearthed some gems from the late Pale Divine era buried in demos and rarely performed. The setlist quickly grew to include new tunes with Bill's driving guitar solos picking up the pace.
Though the project lasted less than a year and a half, Rainbox played thirty shows and managed to release one self-titled cassette. Their first show was on July 23, 1994 at The Link's Club and their final at Kennedy's on September 30, 1995.
broken record, live love die, anymore, somedays, whenever, coffee, you'll never know, mr.high mr.low
Over the next couple of years Michael continued to play out acoustically. Thought he often played solo or with Rusty Allen, he was most often seen playing as "The Tiny Cows" with St.Louis veteran Jimmy Griffin (KINGOFTHEHILL, Full On Venus, Neptune Crush, Nadine, Incurables) on guitar and Brian Hilgert on percussion. The Cows were a cover band playing great classic rock along with a small list of originals at some of your favorite venues such as Kennealy's, Soulard Ale House, Llewellyns, and other fine pubs.
In 1998, Michael finally released the independently produced CD "Cross To Bear," where he returns to his first love, acoustic guitar, and with stunning results. Full, lush string arrangements executed flawlessly mark this recording and compliment the overall organic sound. A host of St.Louis' finest musicians contributed their time and talent to great effect. Many musical directions are covered on this recording, and yet a chord of singular intent remains strong. Positive, focused lyric content, melody, and counter-melody make listening to this CD a rare pleasure in an often too repetitive pop culture. "Cross To Bear" also features a rare father/son recording with Michael's father, renowned jazz guitarist Cliff Frederiksen. Michael is a dramatic live performer, appearing solo or with full band, and never fails to stir your emotions and your thoughts. An accomplished guitarist with an amazing voice, Michael also arranged and conducted the strings, and played all piano tracks on the CD. "Cross To Bear" marks his fourth release as an artist. Based upon Michael's strong local and regional following, critical reviews and independent sales of "Cross To Bear" have been strong.
SCHAERER: CROSS TO BEAR
halo, cross to bear, alone, adagio, king, love song, witch-wife, wonderful, fool
In support of his first solo disc, Michael began putting together a full band with the talent and energy to perform these tracks in a live setting. Old friends returned to the cast with Rusty Allen on acoustic guitar and Dan Angenend on bass as well as other talented musicians. Unfortunately this lineup, which included a string section, was only able to play a handful of shows, as the number of musicians involved made the band very difficult to both book and mix. The final show was a disasterous night at the Firehouse when the both strings failed appear and the sound was unforgivalbly full of feedback despite the mixing skills of Dave Probst at the board. They were, however, an amazing experience of original music including classic tunes by Pale Divine and Rainbox.
After the full band passed Michael began playing out as the Michael Schaerer Group, a stripped down lineup of STL vets and familair friends. Rusty Allen moved to electric guitar as the Steves came on board. Steve Hunt, formerly of Universal Records' New World Spirits, took over drumming duties and Steve Hanock, who played with Michael in the Eyes and Rainbox, returned on bass.
Michael Schaerer Group @Kennealy's Pub (circa 2000) with Steven Hunt, Rusty Allen, and Steve Hanock
As if this lineup wasn't exciting enough with its talent and local flavor, Greg Miller could randomly be seen filling in for Steven Hunt from time to time as well. And almost expected, Steve Hanock was again replaced on bass, but this time by Greg Morris. A great mix of older rock covers and classic originals, MSG never fails to entertain. Most recently, this full lineup doesn't play out very often for public bookings. Michael Schearer can be found around St.Louis every week either as a solo act or with Amy Miller.
After years of playing out acoustic every week, Michael's voice was amazing at both the 2008 and 2009 reunion concerts. Classic Pale Divine tunes were belted out with intensity and passion. The next show promises to be amazing.