Horses, whiskey, grief: ‘He Rode On’ snapshot into life of Glacier ranger

Abby Lynes for the Missoulian

Michael Shaw likes to talk to horses.

A true-blue horseman and former wilderness ranger for Glacier National Park, the horses talk back on his recently released country album, “He Rode On,” which tells tales of outlaws, partying, getting into trouble, the power of community, and the wildness that is the American West.

Many of those stories are rooted in Shaw’s days living and working all over western Montana — Stevensville, Polebridge, Ovando, Dillon, Greenough and Moiese, to name a few of the towns he has called home.

Michael Shaw, “He Rode On”

“I was able to live a life that was uniquely Montana,” he said. “The songs come from that.”

His homebase was always Missoula, though, where he played with different musicians around town, including now-broken up Whiskey Rebellion. He remembers regularly playing at the Jack Saloon in Lolo as well as the Union Club downtown, where a bartender would sell the band he played with shots of whiskey at cost that they’d give out to the audience between sets.

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