Some guitarists like myself don’t have that fluid, natural style that some are born with, no matter how hard they practice. Michael Aaron was born with it. The first time I saw Michael was in the mid to late-‘90s at the Dragon’s Den. My band had a weekly show there with Jerri Cain Rossi opening, Soup Chain in the middle and Attack Family last. It was one of the first performances I had seen of Soup’s band. What caught my attention was the “guitarist,” Michael, who was hunched over what he called the panuella, playing an electric textural style that blew my mind. The sound was not like what you would learn at guitar lessons. It was Michael’s sound, a sound that was fluid and natural, often less structured than some would like. After the show, we met and started playing and partying together, much of it happening in his record store on Decatur Street.
Many people may know him as the guy who owned Rock ‘n’ Roll Collectibles on lower Decatur. On any given day, there would be four or five people hanging out, and there was talk of everything, especially records. If you wanted to listen to something, you could dig it out and ask Michael to put it on. Sometimes you’d have to wait, though, until he was done listening to something else. Once I had to power through an Italian version of “Jesus Christ Superstar” in order to listen to Van Morrison’s “T.B. Sheets.”
When I think of Michael, I prefer to think of him in what I consider the lower Decatur glory days. His Bushmills on the rocks was always ready at the Hideout, the Abbey, Turtle Bay, Molly’s, or the bar that he had been frequenting lately. Even after the store closed down, it was a bad idea to walk down lower Decatur with Michael. It would take him hours, having to stop and shoot the shit with people every 10 steps. He passed away late in December of heart issues, and I see his greatest legacy not as a musician, not as a record store owner, but as a man that made people happy with his warm, quick-witted, and loving way.