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Showing tonight

Ordinary Elephant

Thu, November 21 / 7 PM

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International Folk Music Awards 2017 Artist of the Year Ordinary Elephant captivates audiences with their emotionally powerful and vulnerable songs, letting the listener know that they are not alone in this world. 



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John Egan - Mando Saenz - Sean Devine

Thu, November 21 / 930 PM

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John Egan

Egan howls and drops his foot like a hammer on his stompbox, but it's his flashy fingerwork on a National steel guitar that truly dazzles.  He's an old soul and one of the most riveting performers in the city.  -Houston Chronicle


Mando Saenz

Mando Saenz has made a career out of watching people, haunting places, and asking questions. Studebaker, his third studio album by Carnival Recording Company, is propelled by his self-deprecating wit, careful observation, and empathetic ability to make heroes out of outcasts.


Sean Devine

Fifth generation Montana musician and songwriter Sean Devine has traveled widely, performing and recording across the U.S. and in the U.K. His third studio album 'Austin Blues' was recorded live to tape in three days at Cedar Creek Recording in Austin, Texas, and released on CD and vinyl as well as for download and streaming. Sean still calls Montana home, and he can be found there from time to time with his three kids, two cats and one dog in Paradise Valley.

Showing tonight

An Evening with Allison Moorer and Mary Gauthier

Fri, November 22 / 7 PM930 PM

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Mary Gauthier

Every day.


Every single day, which means some days are better and some much worse.


Every day, on average, twenty-two veterans commit suicide. Each year seventy-four hundred current and former members of the United States Armed Services take their own lives.


Every day.


That number does not include drug overdoses or car wrecks or any of the more inventive ways somebody might less obviously choose to die.


It seems trivial to suggest those lives might be saved — healed, even — by a song. By the process of writing a song.


And yet.


And yet there is nothing trivial about Mary Gauthier's tenth album, Rifles and Rosary Beads (Thirty Tigers), all eleven songs co-written with and for wounded veterans. Eleven of the nearly four hundred songs that highly accomplished songwriters have co-written as part of Darden Smith's five-year-old SongwritingWith:Soldiers program.

None of the soldiers who have participated in the program have taken their own lives, and there's nothing trivial about that. Something about writing that song — telling that story — is healing. What Smith calls post-traumatic-growth.


Gauthier's first nine albums presented extraordinary confessional songs, deeply personal, profoundly emotional pieces ranging from “I Drink,” a blunt accounting of addiction, to “March 11, 1962,” the day she was born — and relinquished to an orphanage — to “Worthy,” in which the singer finally understands she is deserving of love. Maybe that's where the confessional song cycle ends, for she has midwifed these eleven new songs in careful collaboration with other souls whose struggle is urgent, immediate, and palpable. And none are about her.


Each song on Rifles and Rosary Beads is a gut punch: deceptively simple and emotionally complex. From the opening “Soldiering On” (“What saves you in the battle/Can kill you at home”) to “Bullet Holes in the Sky” (“They thank me for my service/And wave their little flags/They genuflect on Sundays/And yes, they'd send us back”), to the abject horror of “Iraq,” and its quiet depiction of a female mechanic's rape, each song tells the story of a deeply wounded veteran.


Darrell Scott, returning from one of Smith's first retreats, called and told Mary she needed to participate. “I felt unqualified,” she says. “I didn't know anything about the military, I was terrified of fucking it up. I didn't feel I knew how to be in the presence of that much trauma without being afraid. But Darrell knew I could do it. Turns out, I was able to sit with the veterans with a sense of calmness and help them articulate their suffering without fear. I was shocked by that. And I took to it.”


It has become a calling. “My job as a songwriter is to find that thing a soul needs to say,” Mary says. “Each retreat brings together a dozen or so soldiers and four songwriters, three songs each in two days. We don't have a choice. We have to stay focused, listen carefully, and make sure every veteran gets their own song. And we always do.”


“None of the veterans are artists. They don't write songs, they don't know that songs can be used to move trauma. Their understanding of song doesn't include that. For me it's been the whole damn deal. Songwriting saved me. It's what I think the best songs do, help articulate the ineffable, make the invisible visible, creating resonance, so that people, (including the songwriter) don’t feel alone.”


The impact of these songs becomes visible quickly, unexpectedly.

Featured in the TV series “Nashville,” the Bluebird Cafe now prospers as a tourist destination. The room fills twice a night with people thrilled to be in the presence of real live Nashville songwriters.


Who, in turn, are thrilled to be in the presence of a paying audience that can do nothing to advance their careers, save give a genuine response to their songs.


The gentleman at the next table has handsome white hair and a hundred-dollar casual shirt, and almost certainly had no idea who Mary Gauthier was, nor what her songs might be about, when he came out of the sunlight into the darkened listening room. He knows, now. Thick, manicured fingers cover his face, trying to catch his slow tears. His wife sits close, watches carefully, but knows better than to touch him.

He is not alone in that small audience.


Every day we are touched by the veterans in our lives, whether we know it or not.

Every single day. Even if it's only the guy on Main Street, in the wheelchair, with the flag. Every single day.


And, yes, a song may be the answer.


“Because the results are so dramatic, this could work for other traumas,” Mary says. “Trauma is the epidemic. You say opioid, I say trauma epidemic. As an addict, I know addiction is self- medication because of suffering, and beneath that pain is always trauma. Underneath so much of the problems in the world is trauma, it's the central issue humanity is dealing with. We've found something powerful here, that brings hope to people who are hurting. So they know they are not alone.”


Allison Moorer

Making sense of things isn't always easy. Singer/songwriter Allison Moorer knows this, for sifting through life's various complexities can make for a good song and even better story. On "Sorrow (Don't Come Around)," one of the starkly candid songs on Moorer's forthcoming effort, Crows, she hints at a hidden optimism that sometimes is ignored or forgotten. "I gotta turn you away so I can keep this hope alive/You're tapping on the window but I won't let you inside/Maybe you'll give up and find somebody else tonight/I draw the curtains, say a prayer and turn out the light."


Nearly 12 years ago, Moorer made an unforgettable introduction with her contribution of the thoughtful ballad, "A Soft Place to Fall," to the soundtrack to Robert Redford-directed drama, 1998's A Horse Whisperer, which later earned her an Academy Award nomination. From there, Moorer went on to carefully craft a long-lasting career with her impressive debut LP, Alabama Song, while challenging herself to always look inward for an even deeper meaning -- which she certainly explored on Miss Fortune (2002) and The Duel (2004). In 2007, Moorer received a Grammy nomination for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for "Days Aren't Long Enough," a song co-written with husband, singer-songwriter Steve Earle.


Venturing into a creative world beyond music was merely natural, too; that fall, Moorer went on to appear in the stage production of Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's "Rebel Voices," a theatrical adaptation based on their best-selling book, Voices of a People's History of the United States. And in late 2009, Moorer appears in The History Channel's The People Speak, a film inspired by Zinn's A People's History of the United States, which also features Bob Dylan, Morgan Freeman, Bruce Springsteen, Danny Glover, Matt Damon, John Legend, Josh Brolin and more.


But only now does Moorer admit that she feels as if she's figuring out what she's doing. Such cool confidence breathes easy on her seventh studio album, Crows.


"[The process of recording Crows] surprised me every step of the way because I felt like I was writing on a level that I hadn't before," Moorer says. "I felt like I was being the most open I'd ever been. I don't know if that's age or confidence or what, but after all this time, I'm starting to feel like I know what I'm doing as a singer. Songwriting is very mysterious to me. I know how songs work but I don't always understand how they come to be."


Last year's covers collection, Mockingbird -- which found Moorer covering female artists like Nina Simone, Patti Smith and Gillian Welch -- was her way of returning to a place where it all began. "I had made what felt like a lot of records in a short amount of time, and I needed to step back from the process of writing a record, recording a record, and touring a record. I needed to change it up a little bit, so I essentially sent myself back to school," explains Moorer. "When you're learning how to play and sing, one of the ways you do that is by learning other people's songs. No one is born with their own songs, so that's how you learn to write." Thus, with that refreshing break Moorer headed into the House of David Studio in Nashville to record the 13-song Crows in just four days. Here, she's found humor in darkness and sifts through life's complexities for her richest, most soul-bearing effort yet.


"I've always been guilty of making music for myself. The older I get, the more I do it. I'm just trying to turn myself on because if I don't do that then I certainly can't expect to turn anyone else on," says Moorer.


From the starkly honest title track and the sparkling acoustic guitars of "Still This Side of Gone" to the more upbeat "Just Another Fool" and "The Broken Girl," Moorer explores the many facets of emotion without restraint. Whether she's questioning her own moods or considering what others might be going through, Moorer's approach is incredibly warm. And with all its intricate loveliness, Crows is a pure and natural rock & roll record.


R.S. Field, who worked on Miss Fortune, The Duel, and the live LP, Show, produced and plays drums on Crows. "I knew R.S. could appreciate the nuances in these songs, and that he could see the inside as well as the outside," Moorer says. "I had to have someone who really understood where I was coming from, and he understood that I was pushing myself, that I was opening up again in a way that I hadn't before."


Other highlights include the piano-driven "Easy in the Summertime" and its perfect coda "The Stars & I (Mama's Song)." It's here that Moorer pays tribute to her fondest childhood days growing up with older sister, musician and singer Shelby Lynne, while honoring the memory of her Mother.


"I've mined the territory of my childhood several times, but I really wanted to explore some of the more sweet memories that I have because I've never really done that before," she says. "It's sort of a history lesson for myself. It has a really child-like melody intentionally. I wrote it on piano, I couldn't have written it on anything except a piano. It was my first instrument and it's the soundtrack to my childhood. I always had my hands on the piano, and it saved me in a lot of ways. I've come back to it now and I'm very thankful for it because in a way it helped me stay innocent then. It makes me feel like I did when I was a kid making up tunes."


Also returning to the fold is guitarist Joe McMahan, a former member of Moorer's road band for Miss Fortune, and bassist Brad Jones, who contributed to Getting Somewhere.


Crows is wholeheartedly real -- its spirit is tangible and each lyric could belong to anyone. Moorer's look inward is pure and without hesitation, all while she's exploring what could exist outside of one's soul.

Showing tonight

Kinky Friedman

Sat, November 23 / 7 PM930 PM

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Yes, Kinky has been resurrected, with perhaps his greatest work ever, the cd Resurrection (Echo Hill Records), and he’s bringing it to the streets for a November, 2019 tour.  With twenty-one dates that take him from the east coast, to the midwest, to his home state of Texas, this is just the first leg of a full US tour that will cement Kinky’s rep as one of the best performers and songwriters of a generation.


In working with superstar producer, multi-instrumentalist and three-time Grammy winner Larry Campbell, Kinky has finally found the perfect compliment to his jagged edge Texas Hill Country persona.  Together with fellow three-time Grammy winning engineer Justin Guip, they have produced eleven amazing cuts that speak to the legends and myths of the great southwest with an inner conviction that belies the raucous days of Kinky’s youth.  Every appearance on the Merry Kinkster Tour will be a showcase of these masterpieces from a very deep soul.


Many of the dates should actually be called The Merry Kinksters Tour, as he will be joined by his long-time co-conspirator (read: Executive Buttboy) and legendary Austin band leader Cleve Hattersley, whose new book Life Is A Butt Dial (YES Publishing Austin, Texas) tells the tales of his and Kinky’s adventures together, plus myriad stories of a life in rock and roll, politics and pot smuggling.  Cleve will perform a few songs with his wife, Sweet Mary and read from his book.  Brian Molnar, who has accompanied Kinky on several recent tours will be opening nearly all the dates, premiering his new cd, One Of Them (Avenue A records).


For extra added fun, the New York City date will also be a reunion show, with performers and fans gathering in tribute to the late, great bastion of country and Americana, The Lone Star Cafe.  A large cadre of Kinky’s Village Irregulars, including Cleve (who managed the Lone Star),  Larry Ratso Sloman and Corky Laing, will salute the legendary club and all the stars who played the venue, most especially Dr. John, one of the most beloved performers to have performed there.


Life Is A Butt Dial By Cleve Hattersley

Kinky Friedman’s Longtime Co-Conspirator Finally Tells the Whole Truth


Austin music legend and long-time cohort of Kinky Friedman  (official title: Executive Buttboy), Cleve Hattersley has the stories, stories of a life that has seen it all.  Each is a two or three page memory of folks he has met, places he has seen, history that happened before his eyes.  In a book that the Texas A&M Press called “too real” for them in their rejection letter, he reveals untruths about heroes, truths about antiheroes.  All in the land of the tragically hip.


Joseph Heller swore up to his death that Cleve had earlier saved his life, when he was stricken with Guillain-Barre Syndrome.  Harry Dean Stanton literally followed Cleve wherever he went whenever Cleve visited LA, and when they toured Australia with Billy Swan and Kinky (HD loved great pot, you see).  Whether it was catching Hendrix audition for a gig he didn’t get, playing water tag in LA with Jim Morrison, or getting kicked out of the  Mean Fiddler, the toughest Irish bar in London with Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Kinky (and they were all on their best behavior!), history has unfolded in front of Cleve throughout his extraordinary life.


Cleve witnessed the entire cultural (and sometimes violent) revolution of the sixties, from hanging with Jerry Rubin as he taught others how to make bombs, to attending (and fleeing from) riots in Berkeley and the Haight.  He smuggled large amounts of pot, spent time in the Huntsville State Penitentiary for his indiscretions, and managed and booked two of New York City’s most infamous clubs, the Lone Star Cafe and the Blue Note Jazz Club.   


Cleve’s seminal band, Greezy Wheels, members of the Austin Music Hall Of Fame, played two of the most important shows/events in Austin history, including the breakout shows for Willie Nelson and Bruce Springsteen at the Armadillo World Headquarters.  The Willie show has been called the most significant cultural event in Austin history (by Michael Corcoran and others).  


Nearly fifty years after its inception Greezy Wheels is releasing their final studio album, ‘Ain’t Quite Like That’ simultaneously with ‘Life Is A Butt Dial,’ on their own MaHatMa Records label.  Cleve wrote all the originals on the cd, which is already being called “a masterpiece.”  There will be more stories to tell......

 

“Who knew he was the Zelig of the counterculture....?   His captivating, rollercoaster of a memoir reveals the secret to his success:  he was the guy with the best weed.”



Showing tonight

Open Mic

Mon, November 25 / 630 PM

No cover charge.


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. 

Showing tonight

Sam Baker

Tue, November 26 / 730 PM

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Baker’s musical storytelling in Land of Doubt gives voice to emotions tender and bitter, personal and universal. Some songs seem to come from deep inside the well of his own experience, while others reflect empathy with and insight into the suffering of those outside it.  


Perhaps Baker describes the record best, “I wanted a cinematic feel, a mixture of sparsity and tension…


And beauty…I always come back to beauty on my records. That’s shorthand for something that's bigger than me.”

Showing tonight

Game Night - Irish Session

Wed, November 27 / 730 PM

What is it about Wednesday?


Wednesday is Game Night at the Duck.   What is Game Night, you may ask? 

It's an informal night of fun, no reservations, no cover charge, just come on by.

We put out our collection of board games like Checkers, Backgammon, Monopoly, Risk, Jeopardy, Operation, Clue, Trivial Pursuit etc, (or you are welcome to bring your favorite) and folks bring their families and friends to have a bite and play games. 


In keeping with the spirit of Game Night, you can roll the dice and try your luck.  Roll any combination that equals four, or  two fours, and your entree will be on the house.  


Wednesday is also Irish Session Night at the Duck which usually starts around 7:30pm