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Sarah Grace and the Soul

Thu, January 23 / 7 PM

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Sarah Grace is a 16-year-old Indie/Roots singer and musical powerhouse from Houston, Texas. She was as a semi-finalist from season 15 of The Voice. Sarah Grace's powerful performance of "Amazing Grace" on The Voice, can be described as her signature moment, establishing her as a legitimate artist. The recording immediately shot to #3 on the overall iTunes charts, gained 1 million YouTube views, and lived on the Gospel/Christian charts of iTunes for several weeks thereafter. Universal Republic Records released her first four recordings via Apple Music exclusively.

 

Up until two years ago, Sarah Grace experienced synesthesia, a perceptual phenomenon which gave her strong sound-to-color associations. Although it has faded, she still has strong memories of certain songs, chords, and notes looking like specific colors as though music was “just like a painting.”

 

Sarah Grace was the first singer on The Voice to play trumpet and the first to play a Hammond organ. As a result, Hammond Organ invited Sarah to be an official artist in the Hammond family. Off stage, Sarah Grace attends the prestigious High School for the Performing and Visual Arts as a trumpet major and she performs in their orchestra, jazz and concert band ensembles.

 

Sarah Grace is no stranger to the stage, having performed over 100 shows in 2018, and currently touring nationally with her band Sarah Grace and The Soul, comprised of equally talented young musicians. They have won multiple awards including being named the "Best Newcomer" for 2019 by the Houston Press.

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Charlie Mars

Thu, January 23 / 930 PM

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Born in 1974 in Laurel, Mississippi, Mars grew up listening to various styles of pop/rock, from Michael Jackson to the Violent Femmes. Just prior to his senior year of high school, Mars moved with his family to Jackson, Mississippi, where he attended Jackson Preparatory School and played in the band Adley Madidafus. 


After graduating high school in 1992, he attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. During this time, he began seriously pursuing a music career, often playing with fellow SMU student, singer/songwriter Jack Ingram. It was also while at SMU that Mars formed the Charlie Mars Band and released several albums, including 1995’s Broken Arrow, 1997’s Born & Razed, and 1999’s End of Romance.


Along with this early success came a hard-partying lifestyle and taste for alcohol that found him disbanding his group and entering rehab for a month. In 2001, looking to start fresh, Mars moved to Sweden where began writing new material. Re-energized, he returned to the United States where he spent time in Austin, Texas and eventually released his 2004 self-titled album on V2 Records. After settling in New York City in 2008, he began work on what would eventually become his “Texas Trilogy.” 


Recorded with producer Billy Harvey and a core group of musicians in Austin, the trilogy includes 2009’s Like a Bird, Like a Plane and 2012’s Blackberry Light. In 2014, Mars rounded out the trilogy with the release of his seventh studio album, the Harvey-produced Money. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi

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Two Tons of Steel

Fri, January 24 / 7 PM

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The San Antonio-based group packed the small bars and local hangouts and quickly became the Alamo City’s most-loved band, earning them a spot on the cover of Billboard Magazine in 1996. It was the beginning of a twenty year journey for Geil and the 4-piece ensemble.
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Sheila Marshall

Fri, January 24 / 930 PM

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Considering her humble raisin' on the Louisiana border in the tiny East Texas town of Nacogodoches, it should come as no surprise that Sheila Marshall's earliest — and fondest — musical memories are firmly rooted in the Three C's: church and classic country. "My parents had a really bad divorce, and I lived with my mom in a trailer park for pretty much my whole life, so the church I went to was kind of an escape," she recalls. "It was a small church, but the music had a lot of soul, and I just loved it. I think that was a huge influence on me. But I have to say that my mom really influenced me, too, because she was a big fan of Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Loretta, all that stuff. And that's what we did on Friday and Saturday nights: listen to those albums over and over and over ...

"I think I knew every Patsy Cline song that was ever made," she adds with a laugh. "And I mean, all the words."

In fact, she likely still knows them all — and odds are she could probably still sing the everl-iving hell out of a gospel hymn, too. But as Marshall makes clear from minute-one on her new album, Good to Be Me, somewhere along the way that little stay-at-home-on-Saturday-nights choirgirl took a giant bite out of the devil's apple and grew up to be a bona fide badass rock 'n' roll gypsy. Or come to think of it, maybe that Sheila was inside of her all along, just waiting for the right time to break free. Because there's just something about the ultra-confident way this woman can sing a line like "I was born for trouble and trouble is all I'll be" over a snaky slide guitar groove that rings righteously true. Just ask Ray Wylie Hubbard, a man who knows more than a little about such things.

"Sheila Marshall has compelling songs, a delicious cool voice, and fire and soul," affirms the renowned Americana artist and songwriter's songwriter, sealing his approval with two little words that tell you all you really need to know about Marshall's credentials as Hubbard-certified, grade A Real Deal: "I dig."

Mind, there's also the fact that Hubbard himself happened to co-produce Marshall's new record — and also had a hand in co-writing two of its most indelibly profane and wickedly assertive songs, "Watch Me Move" and the "Ain't Gonna Cuss Your Name Anymore." But as unmistakable as that patented Ray Wylie "grit 'n' groove" imprint may be, Good to Be Me is first and foremost Marshall's record through and through: equal measures sassy and soulful, sacred and sexy, with Faces-worthy swagger to spare and uncompromising spirit to its bluesy core. And although it's not the first album she's ever made — counting EPs and side projects, it's actually her seventh — it's arguably the first one to capture the full rafter-rattling force of both her powerhouse voice and her un-compromised artistic vision.


"I hate to say this, because I wish it had been this way throughout my whole career, but I feel like I really had more control on this one than I did on any other album I've ever made," says Marshall. "I mean, a lot of times in the past, I had producers say to me, 'That's never going to be on the radio; it's good, but it's not mainstream, so why waste your time and money recording it?' And so more often than not we'd end up going in a different direction for whatever songs or ideas I had in mind, and although I do like the other stuff I've done, it was never exactly what I wanted. But with this one, from the very beginning I was like, 'I don't care about being mainstream or whatever; this is how I want it to sound!' — and people actually listened to me!"


Now, in fairness to all that aforementioned "other stuff" that comprises her back catalog, it's not like Marshall's artistic trajectory up until this point was ever characterized by missteps. By any objective standard, her career as an independent songwriter and recording artist has been successful from the get-go. She started out playing in a rock 'n' roll band while still attending Stephen F. Austin State University (on a music scholarship) in her hometown, but quit both the band and her studies after three years to try her luck in the nearest big (BIG) city. With hindsight, she admits to sometimes regretting the whole dropping-out-of-college decision, but the move and commitment to pursuing music full-time paid off remarkably quickly. Within three months of arriving in Houston, she landed her first of what would soon be many overseas gigs. "I played a club in Japan, booked by a Japanese promoter who had seen me in Houston, and then I played for the military over there as well," says Marshall, who in the 20 years since has performed for troops stationed all over the world, including Iraq and Kuwait. She stayed plenty busy closer to home, too; in 2004, she was a Top 10 finalist on the second season of Nashville Star, performing two of her original songs on national TV, and then went on to spend the next several years building a loyal Texas (and beyond) fanbase on the strength of her 2005 full-lengh debut, Makes Perfect Sense, and its 2009 follow-up, What If I Was.


The latter album also marked the beginning of what would be a near-decade-long musical partnership with producer Kyle Cook, best known as the guitarist for the multi-platinum ’90s hit machine Matchbox 20. After making What If I Was together, they went on to form Rivers & Rust, a duo project marrying Marshall's bluesy Texas honky-tonk/roadhouse soul and Cook's affinity for mainstream pop-rock. It was an intriguing experiment that yielded enough sparks to fuel one eponymous album and a pair of successful tours, including a 2017 run opening for Matchbox 20 and Counting Crows that found Marshall playing in front of some of the largest audiences of her life. But it ultimately wasn't built to last.


"It was fun, but we're just very different," explains Marshall. "It was the kind of thing where you know, it works, but it doesn't work. In the end, he basically wanted to take everything into even more of a pop band direction, and I was like, 'I don't want to do that.'"


What she did want, on the other hand, was the opportunity to work more with Hubbard — both as a longtime fan of his decidedly non-mainstream aesthetic and of the kindred spirit connection she'd felt with the legend the first time they wrote together, two years ago. "At the time we were trying to write songs for Rivers & Rust, but they ended up being more my style than that band's style," she says. "I just always liked that gritty, swampy, whatever-you-would-call-it style he has, and I've always written songs in that vein myself — but then I'd get to the studio and again, people would invariably be like, 'Oh, we need to change that up a little ...' But from the first time that I ever sat down to write with Ray, it just felt like, 'This guy gets what I'm really after!'"


Marshall admits with a laugh that Hubbard's approach to producing, eschewing fussy perfectionism and polish in favor of a raw, almost primal immediacy, initially took some getting used to. "When I worked with Kyle, I would usually have to sing a song like, 20 times, just to get it perfect," she recalls. "But wih Ray, you go in there and sing one take and he's like, 'You're done!' And at first I'd be like, 'wait, what?!' But he's really good at just making you feel comfortable the whole time you're in the studio, and it turned out to be really refreshing to work like that."


As quickly as that process moved things along, though, their work at The Zone Recording Studio (nestled in the Texas Hill Country just outside of Austin) was paused halfway through the tracking of Good to Be Me when Marshall had to leave for what would be her last Rivers & Rust tour. By the time she got back to Texas five months laer, Hubbard was out on the road himself, so Marshall and her husband, rhythm guitarist Scott Steinsiek, ended up finishing the production themselves. But thanks to the invaluable assistance from A-list Austin multi-instrumentalist Jeff Plankenhorn and drummer/Zone engineer Pat Manske, they were able to pick up right where they had left off — with that lowdown, gnarly vibe very much still in play, even on the handful of brand new songs Marshall brought to the table after the break: "Feels Good to Be Me," "What Do You Pray For," "Mysterious Ways," and "Hallelujah."


And no, those last two are not covers.


"I actually sent 'Hallelujah' to Ray, even after I found out he wasn't going to be able to come back in, just to get his take on it, and he said, 'Be careful — everyone's going to think it's Leonard Cohen, so you might want to use another word ...'" she recalls with a laugh. "But I was like, 'I don't think I can think of another word to use!'"


Needless to say, she left the lyric unchanged — further testament to her determination from the get-go to keep Good to Be Me 100-percent true to her own gut instincts. And truth be told, Hubbard likely would have done the same had he written the song himself, or at the very least grinned in proud, knowing approval had he still been at the production helm when Marshall stubbornly threw his one note of cautionary advice to the wind. Because as Hubbard knows better than anyone, true rock 'n' roll gypsies and dangerous spirits — especially those reveling in their first taste of complete artistic freedom — don't play things safe. Dig it.

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Pat Byrne

Sat, January 25 / 7 PM

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An Irishman who’s at least temporarily relocated to Austin this year, Byrne has quickly become an artist that everyone who goes out to hear music regularly in Austin needs to catch. The guess here is that he’ll be playing far larger rooms before long; he’s too good of a songwriter, and singer, to not reach his level.” — Peter Blackstock - Austin American Statesman


Irish Americana, by turns rollicking and resonating, that’s driven by his gruff growl of a voice — suggest that he’s one to keep an eye on.” — Stuart Munro, The Boston Globe


“Pat Byrne, “Rituals.” Released late last year, this seven-song set from the Irish singer-songwriter was recorded partly in Austin with Rich Brotherton (whose credits include extensive work with renowned Scottish expat Ed Miller). Some tracks were recorded in Ireland as well, with Brotherton mixing in his Austin studio. 


The raspy melodic soul of Byrne’s voice recalls the emotional spells the late Austin troubadour Jimmy LaFave used to cast, though Byrne’s songwriting bears a more distinctive Irish stamp. He’s more contemporary than strict traditionalists, putting him more in the league of Glen Hansard or Luka Bloom, perhaps; yet at times he conjures a deeply old-school feel — especially on the spectacular “Hills of Killedmond,” which features Irish legend Kevin Burke on fiddle. ” — Peter Blackstock - Austin American Statesman

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Shelley King

Sat, January 25 / 930 PM

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Superlative, powerhouse, smart and savvy are only a few of the adjectives used to describe Shelley King, who is debuting her 9th album, Kick Up Your Heels. 

 

The blues, roots-rock, gospel singer stands out in the crowd as an award-winning songwriter, steeped in Americana music. Born in Arkansas, and raised back and forth between Arkansas and Texas, Shelley has surrounded herself with A-list mentors from Marcia Ball to John Magnie and Delbert McClinton. 

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Open Mic

Mon, January 27 / 630 PM

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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 7 p.m. (sign up by 6:30 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


The Duck stage is open for you to present your original compositions or a favorite song made famous by someone else. 


Comedians, poets, jugglers and mimes also welcome.


Don't be shy. Come on out ~ It's your turn to be a Mucky Duck Open Mic Star.


Each performer has 3 songs or 15 minutes for their performance. 

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Lost Austin Band

Tue, January 28 / 730 PM

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Cosmic Austin: that edgy intersection where the best of the Texas songwriters meets Folk-Rock & Roll. And who was there for a lot of it, who helped make that music and who continues that tradition with their own songs and the iconic tunes of that time?


The Lost Austin Band, that's who!


If you've heard the music of Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Michael Martin Murphey, Rusty Wier, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Willis Alan Ramsey, B.W. Stevenson, the Lost Gonzo Band and other song-oriented Texas artists, then you've heard the music of The Lost Austin Band.


Today’s Americana and Texas country artists owe a debt of gratitude to the stalwarts of what the media of the day called “Progressive Country.” All members of the Texas Music Legends Hall of Fame, Bob Livingston, Bill Browder, Dave Moerbe, Patterson Barrett, Ernie Gammage, and Craig D. Hillis return to their musical roots as The Lost Austin Band with the songs and stories that created this special time in Texas’s musical history. It’s quite a trip!