Story by Sara Paul
When Michael Gailie was nine years old, he joined the Record Club of America. He received nine albums for three cents and was “hooked on music from that moment on.”
Now a full-time musician in two popular local bands, 58-year-old Gailie recalls learning how to vocally mimic music on his old turn table in the late 1960s.
“I knew in my heart that music would be my life. I knew I wanted to do this, I could do this, and I would do this,” said Gailie, who was inspired by Crosby Stills & Nash and The Beatles.
The Florida, NY resident has been the lead singer and acoustic guitarist of the band Tangent for 26 years and has also partnered with long time friend Mike Holmes in the duo Stereo Mike’s for 13 years.
Though the self-taught musician admits he cannot read music and has never had a lesson, he strongly believes that he has had, “… an ear and a finger of God to my throat. My mom said that’s just the way I came out of the womb.”
To be sure, Michael comes from a long line of performers, including his guitar playing Uncle Charlie and former nightclub singer Aunt Pat, to name a few.
“It’s really ingrained in us. There’s never ever, ever a family gathering when the musical instruments don’t come out. It is just DNA based,” he said.
Born in Middletown, NY on January 23, 1961, Michael Anthony Gailie lived in Florida, NY with his mother, who was of Irish descent, and father, of Polish and Dutch descent. Interestingly, his mother is one of ten siblings and is a twin and a Gemini. Michael is the second oldest and has two brothers, Chuck and Robert, and a sister, Darlene.
In 1992, Michael moved to Westbrookville, NY with then wife, Darlene. The couple built a house in Cuddebackville, NY, and lived there until 2003. They have two daughters, Jordan and Cameron, now 24 and 19, respectively. Michael lived with his second wife, Debbie, in Maybrook, NY until 2018, and still remains father to stepchildren, Albert, 35, and Samantha, 26. He has two grandchildren: Antonia, two years old, and Nora Evelyn, two months old.
Beyond artistic pursuits, Michael paid the obligatory bills as a health care administrative executive in Orange County for 35 years. Working at Eye Physicians of Orange County, he was in charge of day to day operations and after seven years, moved on to Monroe Area Medical where, for the next nine years, he worked with stake holders and others in St. Anthony Community Hospital to bring a physician’s office back to the Village of Greenwood Lake in 2003.
Monroe Area Medical joined the Horizon Family Medical Group, where Gailie was eventually promoted to Director of Operations. Next was a NJ based gastroenterology office for five years before being hired by Orange Regional Medical Center as a physician recruiter.
“It was an amazing time, and I had always wanted to work in a hospital. It was the city on the hill and allowed me to do my best,” notes Michael, who recruited more than 100 doctors in his term there.
With hard work, proper planning and a ton of passion, Michael fills days, nights, weeks and weekends with music.
With Tangent, practicing once a week and playing publicly once a month, Michael has appeared at Festival Square in Middletown for 19 years and the Fun Fest in Florida, NY for 20 years. He also enjoys playing at Pennings Farm in Warwick where he performs his “Birthday Show” every year.
“It is truly so much fun to get together and see old faces and new faces. The true beauty is that good music played well is good music,” commented Michael, who enjoys covering bands like The Beatles, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, and also newer groups like Matchbox 20.
“We play a very wide, eclectic mix of tunes, so we can hit anybody of any age who’s in the crowd,” he said.
Michael recalls exactly how he met Vick, Tangent’s first guitarist. In May of 1993, one of his six godchildren was being baptized. Amidst the party clamor, Michael could hear the faint sounds of “Hotel California” being performed at the event. After singing the song, he struck up a conversation with the musician and just four weeks later found himself practicing in a small garage in Sullivan County. The group practiced for nine months before performing their first gig at the Downtown Tavern in Middletown, NY in January of 1994.
While Tangent performs approximately 15 times a year as a full, concert-style rock band, Michael felt that he wanted to perform more regularly in smaller venues like wineries and breweries. Michael, and his band-mate Michael, who also lives in Florida, NY, perform as Stereo Mike’s, playing about a half a dozen shows a month.
When his vocal chords need a brief respite, Michael can be found traveling America, having visited 37 States of the 50, and also golfing. He also enjoys attending the Moran Family Reunions, which occur every two years and draw over 70 relatives from all over the east coast.
No stranger to heartache, Michael suffered the loss of sight in his right eye at age 13 in a school yard accident, as well as the loss of his father, who died from complications due to pancreatic cancer at age 52.
Still, the optimistic with an incessant and infectious smile declares, “I do not waste emotions on the things I cannot control. It’s wasted energy. We are only here for a finite amount of time. I do not choose to waste any of my time.”
He adds, “We all have our tragedies and trials in life, and as an artist I want to give of myself so I can feel that connection with an audience to perhaps assuage some of that pain.”
Living back in Florida, NY, with his brother Chuck, ironically across the street from his boyhood home, Michael is inspired by the large number of venues in the area that offer live music. He notes that within eight miles from the Village of Florida, there are no less than 40 purveyors of food, libation and music.
“It is because of fans going out, having dinner and enjoying all the wonderful places that performers get to share their love of their art. We sustain a local treasure that needs constant nurturing and attention. We cannot do it without the fans and venues and are thankful every day for the opportunity to play,” he said.
With strong beliefs on all things regarding life, love, and politics, Michael is concerned that, “A lot of people can no longer agree to disagree. We stopped listening to each other because we think our opinions are more important than listening to others. That’s sad.”
The Warwick Valley Dispatch would like to feature local artists who are passionate in their creative pursuits. These individuals can be established artists or those who are getting started in their trade. We ask that if you know of any artists who would be appropriate for these human interest pieces that you contact Sara Paul at email@example.com or 718-702-3091.