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Showing tonight

Bruce Robison

Fri, October 21 / 7 PM

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Imagine you are Texas singer-songwriter Bruce Robison on any given Saturday night, and you might be forgiven for thinking life looks pretty good. You’re on your way to headline at one of the Texas Hill Country’s legendary dancehalls—the Broken Spoke, say, or Gruene Hall or Floore’s Country Store—when one of your songs comes on the radio. Maybe it’s Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s hit version of “Angry All the Time,” or George Strait’s cover of “Wrapped” or even the Dixie Chicks’ No. 1 hit, “Travelin’ Soldier.” It’s a pleasant interlude in what Dan Jenkins used to call “Life Its Ownself.”

As one of the most acclaimed tunesmiths to come out of Austin, Bruce has worked in the traditional musical model all his life: Sign with a label; Record an album; release single; tour to support same…and repeat.

But although his songwriting work ethic remains anchored to traditional values—strong storylines, compelling characters, hook-laden melodies—Robison is working hard to refit his business model to reflect new music industry realities.

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Johnny Nicholas

Fri, October 21 / 930 PM

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CD Release!

“Johnny Nicholas is one of the best bluesmen ever, black or white.” ~ STEPHEN BRUTON

When it comes to Americana Roots Music and especially the Blues, the late great Stephen Bruton knew what he was talking about. Those who knew him knew that he always got to the point. His description of his long time friend and musical comrade in arms is succinct and quite a heady compliment, but then, Johnny Nicholas is an amazing talent.

For four decades Johnny’s consummate musicianship and vocal skills have graced live music scenes across the country and abroad. He has toured, performed and recorded with many true blues and Americana Roots Music legends including: Mississippi Fred McDowell, Robert Lockwood Jr., Johnny Shines, Big Walter Horton, Roosevelt Sykes, Nathan Abshire, Robert Pete Williams, Eddie Taylor, Billy Boy Arnold, Hound Dog Taylor, Johnny Young, Houston Stackhouse, and Boogie Woogie Red.

He recorded and toured with Johnny Shines and Snooky Pryor, producing and playing guitar on their W.C. Handy Award-winning album Back to the Country. He was a lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist with Asleep at the Wheel when they won their first of many Grammy Awards.

He gave Blues Guitar Icon Ronnie Earl his first gig in the now legendary band Guitar Johnny and the Rhythm Rockers.

He has also shared the stage and performed with the likes of Howlin Wolf, BB King, Muddy Waters, Bonnie Rait, Eric Clapton, Pops and Mavis Staples, Delbert McClinton, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard,and Jimmie Vaughan among many others.

He can wow a festival crowd of thousands or a small room of devotees. There are mysteries within this history, but remember that true history is written in the uncharted depths of a passionate spirit striving to fathom the mysteries, the pain and the joy of life and love. Here’s what you need to know about Johnny Nicholas—the rest and the best is all in his music.

Johnny discovered the blues at an early age, grooving to the great R&B that was blasting from the airwaves in the late 50’s and early 60’s—Jimmy Reed, Lightnin Slim, Slim Harpo, Lloyd Price, Larry Williams, Little Walter, Ray Charles and The Howling Wolf were all Big Blips on this impressionable young man’s radar screen. Like fellow Greek-American Johnny Otis had a generation earlier, this Johnny easily made the leap into the soulful world of the Blues, a music very similar in feeling and expression to the Rembetika music he heard as a child in the Greek community.

In 1966, he hopped the train to New York City to see his idol the Wolf. He ended up hanging with Wolf’s band at the Albert Hotel by day (where Wolf’s band AND Muddy’s band and Otis Spann were all staying) and at Ungano’s nightclub by night where the Wolf was holding musical court while on a two week prowl of the Big Apple. 

This experience cemented his love of the blues while providing inspiration and a gateway to friendships and musical adventures that would help mold a successful career and still smolder in this talented and restless soul. The common thread between all these influences is that of a true storyteller and troubadour, a living connection to the roots of American music that started in the Mississippi Delta and continues to flow down the river of traditional and contemporary sounds that emanate from Johnny Nicholas.

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Terri Hendrix

Sat, October 22 / 7 PM

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As radio programmers and reviewers continue to pick up on Love You Strong, Terri Hendrix’s first new album in five years, she’s already preparing to unveil a second salvo: The Slaughterhouse Sessions, a harmonica-driven blues-gospel album recorded in a renovated slaughterhouse. Releasing July 8, it’s one of four albums — plus a book — the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist will deliver this year in an unprecedented endeavor titled Project 5. Like every album she’s made in her 20-year career, these entries are on her own Wilory Records label through he own e-commerce store. 

Although each Project 5 component is distinct, they’re thematically linked by their relationship to the concepts of love, hope and resilience. On Love You Strong, Hendrix puts love under a microscope, carefully examining issues of trust, loyalty, friendship and fortitude — both emotional and spiritual — with unflinching honesty.

“I left my comfort zone to tell the stories I wanted to tell,” she says of the Lloyd Maines-produced album, her long-awaited follow-up to 2010’s Cry Till You Laugh. That risk paid off; Love You Strong is earning Hendrix some rave reviews.

Radio stations nationwide have latched onto several tracks, including  “Feel the Time,” “Northern Lights,” and “Love You Strong.” 

The former surges with conviction over an urgent Celtic groove, though its inspirational “move with a mission” message is tempered with a bittersweet reminder of mortality. Life’s final chapter is also addressed in “Love You Strong.” Inspired by her father’s role as her mother’s caregiver, it honors his selfless devotion as a true testament to what upholding the vow, “in sickness and in health” really means. She visits the subject again in “Earth-Kind Rose,” but even so, Hendrix accurately notes the album’s overall tone is not one of sadness.

In “The Texas Star,” the San Marcos resident honors the defiant dignity shared by four “women united in justice and freedom/blazing across the lone star sky”: Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins and Liz Carpenter, all beacons of strength who stood in opposition to the status quo. She’s joined on harmonies by another lone star luminary: Eliza Gilkyson. 

The glow igniting Hendrix’s bluesy “Northern Lights,” on the other hand, comes from within, as she ignites an exhilarating, seize-the-moment fire of self-determination. 

Yet Hendrix also refuses to shy away from tougher topics, such as the brutally stark confession of self-doubt and raw nerves she makes in “Vulnerable,” an unfiltered portrait of a woman taking a long, hard look at herself, her relationships, and the world she lives in. Just like life itself, what she sees is not always pretty. 

There’s also an element of tension underscoring the deceptively peppy “The Rant” that’s as palpable as the unfathomable loss haunting “Calle De Los Niños,” in which a family buries a child felled by violence. 

But ultimately, Love You Strong is not about defeat; it’s about courage, adaptability and working through adversity — and the beauty of not only finding inner strength, but sharing it. 

Gorgeously nuanced and at times sweetly delicate, Love You Strong is the most straightforward “folk” album that the famously eclectic Hendrix has ever made. Incorporating jazz, pop, country and blues, it’s also one of her most sonically beautiful efforts. In addition to vocals, Hendrix plays guitars, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, papoose and harmonica and Maines plays guitars, pedal steel, dobro, mandolin, banjo and papoose. They’re backed by Glenn Fukunaga on bass; Pat Manske and John Silva on drums and percussion; Riley Osbourn on keyboards; Dennis Ludiker on fiddle; Bukka Allen on accordion; and Drew Womack on harmonies.

Following Slaughterhouse Sessions, Hendrix will release Who Is Ann?, an electronica exploration. The final album, Talk to a Human, will connect the dots among all four while examining our own connections in a social media-driven world. The book, her second, will delve into her lifelong battle with epilepsy and the path she traveled to wellness. 

Regarding why she took on a challenge of this magnitude, Hendrix explains, “As I became ever more conscious of just how many common threads there were, connecting songs to songs and songs to book chapters and vice-versa, the more I realized that everything I was working on was a piece of a single body of work. Seeing that ‘big picture’ these past five years allowed me the freedom to explore different aspects of my writing and music in more depth than I ever have before on a single record. I’ve always been a long-distance runner at heart, and like to think of Project 5 as a marathon; each leg is its own separate journey, but they all lead to the same destination.”

She may be a runner at heart, but she certainly doesn’t follow the beaten path. She’s never signed to a label, never had a distribution deal and never allowed interlopers to compromise her musical instincts. An early adopter of e-commerce, Hendrix has funded 16 albums completely through online pre-orders — a testament to the strong relationship she’s nurtured with her loyal fans over two decades (and multiple generations). Their support has not only allowed her to follow her heart artistically, but to pursue an even bigger dream: launching a nonprofit creative arts center serving San Marcos and beyond. It’s called OYOU, an acronym for “Own Your Own Universe” — words that embody not only the free-spirited Hendrix’s career, but her life.

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South Austin Moonlighters

Sat, October 22 / 930 PM

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“A southside collective of songwriters modeled loosely on the template established by Saxon supergroup the Resentments a decade ago, the S.A.Moonlighters take a big step with “Burn & Shine,” their first studio album. 

Former members of Mother Truckers, Stonehoney and Monte Montgomery’s touring band collaborate on an eclectic mix of rock, soul, funk, blues, country and more; whereas the previous live disc was highlighted by covers, they’re now bringing their own material to the fore. Highly Recommended.” 

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Open Mic

Mon, October 24 / 630 PM

This little gem might be a bit easily overlooked in Houston’s typical bar scene, but that’s because it’s an entirely different kind of place. McGonigel’s Mucky Ducky is an Irish pub that features a very popular open mic night every Monday at 6:30 p.m. (sign up by 6 p.m.) 

You’ll hear plenty of folk, country and acoustic renditions by performers that spent their afternoon in classes at Rice or a long day at the office. Not only does the pub feature an impressive array of live music almost every night, but the Mucky Duck has been listed by Billboard Magazine as one of the 20 best acoustic venues in the country. - CBS Houston 

Sign up at 6pm. Music begins at 6:30

No Cover.

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Miss Tess and the Talkbacks

Tue, October 25 / 730 PM

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The Village Voice calls Miss Tess and the Talkbacks the perfect instance of “Nashville meets Brooklyn”. With their honey-coated vocals and edgy prowess, it’s an apt description of the quartet. 

Miss Tess backs up the wry wit and 1940s glam with a solid backbone of musical talent, drawing comparisons to everyone from Patsy Cline to Tom Waits to Bette Midler

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Game Night - Irish Session

Wed, October 26 / 730 PM

Board games are hot right now — whether it’s the new Euro-style games like Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, 7 Wonders or Power Grid, or you’re kickin’ it old school with traditional games like the Trumpesque, land-grabbing Monopoly. For a great midweek diversion, head on over to the Mucky Duck for a pint and a little tabletop competition; they’ve been at it for almost 25 years. We checked in with Stevie Hazlewood, day manager for McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, and she says the club stocks a nice selection of titles for the Wednesday night Game Night and Irish Session. 

“It runs the gamut from Connect Four, to Scrabble, Yahtzee, Risk, three different versions of Monopoly, Scattergories, Cards Against Humanity,” says Hazlewood. Play one of those games or bring your own, and scarf down pub snacks like fish and chips, Welsh rarebit and the club’s famous shepherd’s pie. 

Best of all, there’s no cover. 7:30 p.m. 

By Susie Tommaney - Houston Press