Ever since his first boxed set of vinyl Elvis albums as a kid, Mike Sales has been in love with music. Now, he is a staple musician for the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce, playing at most of its events since 2018.
“When it came time to try out for plays or choirs or whatever, I did pretty well,” said Sales. “It just had value above any other hobby for me. When I got validated in my singing, it just inspired me to take it to the next level.”
This passion for music led Sales to pursue it for a living by touring with cover bands around the U.S. He moved to Nashville in 1995 and was inspired to start songwriting there. Now, he mixes in original songs along with covers at all events.
After chasing a friend down to the Sarasota area in 2004, Sales ended up claiming the place as his own and building connections to move his career along here. He learned how to play guitar and started doing events for the Anna Maria Chamber. Then, Sales met former Chamber President Gail Loefgren at an event, and the rest is history.
Mike Sales has played the span of Chamber events such as Savor the Sounds and Freedom Fest. His next gig with the Chamber is the Longboat Key Tree Lighting at the Town Center Green on Nov. 25 at 5:30 p.m.
The Observer sat down with Sales to learn about his passion for playing in the area and why he loves being a musician for the Longboat Key Chamber.
What is your favorite part of being a musician in this area?
I get to play in these wonderful places, and I feel like I have a part in the experience, I really do. In the places I play, people are always doing their own thing. I am just there to set a mood. I love being able to be the soundtrack of people’s lives.
How would you describe your music?
The criteria for the covers that I do is pretty simple. They have to have a positive message, be able to stand on their lyrics and their chords, because I don't do anything fancy. Then it has to be widely known, because up against my originals, I don't want to alienate people with everything else.
As far as writing songs, I really enjoy writing about the things you can do around here. I want my songs to be a celebration of activities of the area or just the aspects of it. I get specific sometimes about palm trees, sand, sun, etc. But also, I just write songs about what I feel. My songs are just comforting, peaceful, exuberant and not stressful at all. My songs are just a nice escape for about three minutes.
What is your favorite part about playing the Longboat Key Chamber?
I like playing for the Chamber because you show up, and everybody knows who you are. If you need something, they are just such a reliable group of people and passionate about the mission of the Chamber.
You might see somebody volunteering at the front desk, or you're seeing somebody on a committee, you're seeing somebody help the new people get in, whatever it is, digging into their pockets for charity. You see all that stuff happen, and you get to know them as people.
There's no better way to know who to do business with people that you admire, trust and respect. I’m excited to play at the tree lighting and to see the locals out there. The Chamber just turns everything into a little party. It's a privilege to be a part of that.
What would you want to say to people who come across your music at an event?
Go to Spotify and check out my song on there, “Trouble Can't Swim." Give it a listen. Whenever artists get patronage from people, especially new people, that's what fuels them to keep on going. It is also a great way to reach more people and get them to go to events with the Chamber and others.