Singer, Songwriter slash Mom
26th Aug 2014 Posted in: Blog, shopkeeper 0

Welcome to Day 23 of the Indiegogo Campaign for The Shopkeeper: A Documentary about Mark Hallman and the Congress House. Every day during the campaign I am featuring a few artists who have recorded at the Congress House.

Micky & The Motorcars

Micky & the Motorcars is an Alternative Texas Country band formed in Stanley, Idaho before moving to Austin, Texas.

The band has released five mainstream albums, including a live album.

The band consists of Micky Braun (acoustic guitar, lead vocals), Gary Braun (lead & harmony vocals, guitars, mandolin, harmonica), Dustin Schaefer (lead guitar), Joe Fladger (bass), and Bobby Paugh (drums & percussion).

Micky and Gary Braun are the younger brothers of Willy and Cody Braun of the Austin-based band, Reckless Kelly. Micky and the Motorcars perform yearly at the Braun brothers Reunion, held in Challis, Idaho.

Ian Moore

Ian Moore (born August 8, 1968 in Berkeley, California, USA) is a guitarist and singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas. He studied fiddle as a child, but switched to guitar when wrist problems interfered. His music contains elements of folk, rock and roll, world music, and blues. After playing guitar in Joe Ely’s touring band and appearing on one studio album, he spent time in Austin with his own group, first Ian Moore and Moment’s Notice, then The Ian Moore Band. He attended The University of Texas at Austin but when given the opportunity for a nation wide tour, he dropped out with the intention of finishing later but, never did. Prior to Luminaria’s release, he moved to Vashon Island, located in Puget Sound near Seattle in the State of Washington, where portions of “To Be Loved” were recorded in his home studio.

Covers from “Green Grass”, which was his first non-Capricorn based album, include Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross”, the Beatles’ “Hey Bulldog,” and Bob Dylan’s “You’re a Big Girl Now.” He has played with such musicians as the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and ZZ Top, and appeared in Billy Bob Thornton’s movie Sling Blade.

Ian recently played guitar with Jason Mraz on his 2010 fall tour.


Bob Mould

Guitarist/singer/songwriter Bob Mould was initially a member of Hüsker Dü, one of the most influential American bands of the ’80s. Hüsker Dü was a post-hardcore punk band that helped define the sound and ideals of alternative rock. After Hüsker Dü broke up, Mould signed a solo contract with Virgin Records in 1988. The following year he released his first solo album, Workbook, which represented a major shift in sonic direction.

Frustrated with the business operations of major record labels, Mould left Virgin after the release of Black Sheets of Rain; they would later release a compilation of the two albums, Poison Years. Mould then formed an independent record company, SOL (Singles Only Label), which released 45s from new, developing bands as well as cult bands. In 1992, he formed a new trio, Sugar, with bassist David Barbe and drummer Malcolm Travis; the band signed with Rykodisc in the U.S. and Creation in the U.K. Sugar’s first album, Copper Blue, was released in the fall of 1992 to enthusiastic reviews and became Mould’s most successful project to date. Copper Blue nearly went gold and spawned several alternative radio and MTV hits, including “Helpless” and “If I Can’t Change Your Mind.” In the spring of 1993, Sugar released the mini-LP Beaster, a more abrasive collection than Copper Blue that was recorded at the same sessions. Around the time of the release of Beaster, Mould was forced out of the closet by various gay publications, with hopes that he would embrace their political cause; he rejected their requests.

Mould wrote the material for the second Sugar album during 1993. The band began recording in the spring of 1994, but the sessions ground to a halt and the tapes were erased. Mould decided to give the album one more try, and it was recorded quickly late that spring. The album, File Under: Easy Listening, appeared in the fall of 1994. Although it received good reviews and was moderately successful commercially, it didn’t match the performance of Copper Blue. In the spring of 1995, it was announced that Sugar was on hiatus. Besides, a collection of rarities and B-sides, was released that summer. By the fall, Mould had broken up the band and begun to work on a third album entirely by himself. Mould played all of the instruments on his self-titled third album, which was released in the spring of 1996. The Last Dog and Pony Show followed in 1998. In 2002, after a long period of musical inactivity, Mould returned with the electronics-heavy Modulate, followed by the more conventional Body of Song in 2005. After Blowoff, a dance project with Richard Morel, Mould returned to his guitar roots and paired up with Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty to record District Line in 2008.

Mould inched back to alt-rock on 2009′s Life and Times, then devoted himself to writing his autobiography with the assistance of Michael Azerrad. See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody was published in the summer of 2011. The following year, Mould returned to the sound of Sugar, playing the band’s 1992 debut in its entirety while on tour, reissuing the band’s catalog as deluxe editions, and, finally, reviving its sound on Silver Age, his first album for Merge Records. Silver Age was greeted by strong reviews, as was its 2014 successor, Beauty & Ruin, which also appeared on Merge.

Trish Murphy

For Austin’s Trish Murphy it’s been a stormy ride between records. But sometimes the pain makes you stronger and that is certainly the case with her splendid new release, Girls Get In Free. With a new found confidence, Murphy unleashes ten new songs filled with passion and charm as well as a tantalizing and rowdy duet with Austin heart throb Bob Schneider on Lyle Lovett’s “Cowboy Man.”

The Austin Chronicle has summed up the album and Trish’s talents best: “A striking tableau of empowerment, whimsicality, and longing set to rich, rootsy textures, Girls firmly secures Murphy’s place in the upper echelon of Austin singer-songwriters.” And it’s the songs on Girls Get In Free that are the real stars. From the first notes of the jangly set opener “All I Want” to the defiant “The Trouble With Trouble” to the impassioned country rocker “Crying As Fast As I Can” to the bittersweet atmospheric “I Don’t Want To Believe,” this is easily Trish’s best work to date.

Murphy has been a musician most of her life. A Houston native, her father, a struggling musician and songwriter, taught his three children to sing background harmonies for him when they were preschoolers. Although he eventually had to take jobs in construction to make a living, the family kept its bohemian values. While she was working her way through school, her dad encouraged her to get gigs to support herself, rather than pursue the proverbial something-to-fall-back-on. After receiving a BA in philosophy, she decided to fall back on music full-time. She formed a duo with her younger brother and Trish & Darin became one of the biggest-drawing acts in Houston for several years in the early 1990′s.

In 1996, she moved to Austin to nurture a solo career and became one of the fastest rising musical stars in Texas. Her discography now includes three solo albums, two of which she recorded and released on her own label. Crooked Mile was released independently in April 1997 to widespreadTrishimagestree.jpg (9129 bytes) critical raves. National distribution soon followed, along with constant touring throughout the U.S. and Europe. Tour highlights included a week with Lilith Fair and appearances on Mountain Stage and World Cafe. Her follow-up CD, Rubies on the Lawn (Doolittle/Mercury 1999), garnered national press, mainstream radio airplay and more international touring, including a return to the Lilith Fair in its final season. Captured, independently released in late 2001, found Trish returning to her Texas roots in a stripped-down, live acoustic setting, doing what she does best: telling stories and shooting from the hip.

Equally important to Murphy is her work as a volunteer board member of GenAustin, a non-profit outreach program that helps middle school-aged girls develop strong self-esteem. “In a way,” she explains, “it ties in with the concept of ‘girls get in free.’ They establish big sister, little sister programs to teach girls moral integrity at time in their lives when things change seemingly overnight.” Murphy’s dedication to the program is so deep seated that the CD release party for Girls Get In Free was a benefit for GenAustin.


26th Aug 2014 Posted in: Blog, shopkeeper 8

Alrighty, folks, here are your choices for Cover Song #4. Please vote for two (2)! The voting closes tonight at midnight.

Black Coffee
3 Chords and the Truth
One More Cup of Coffee
No Banker Left Behind
Call Any Vegetable
Wild Heart of the Young
Killing the Blues

As of today, we are at 65%, with eight days to go. Thank you for sharing and commenting and all your enthusiasm for the project. It’s been a heartening, slightly overwhelming month. Let’s push this over the top!

Love, Rain

25th Aug 2014 Posted in: Blog, shopkeeper 0

Welcome to Day 22 of the Indiegogo Campaign for The Shopkeeper: A Documentary about Mark Hallman and the Congress House. Every day during the campaign I am featuring a few artists who have recorded at the Congress House.

Iain Matthews

Iain Matthews began his recording career in 1966 with the surf group Pyramid. The band recorded one single for Deram Records, but never really went any further and Matthews (then still known as Ian MacDonald) left after he was brought to the attention of Ashley Hutchings, who happened to be looking for a male singer for his new band Fairport Convention. He remained with Fairport for two albums, including the folk-rock classic What We Did on Our Holidays, before leaving during the recording of 1969′s Unhalfbricking (his backing vocal can be heard on “Percy’s Song”) due to creative differences. Matthews soon signed with MCA Records for his first solo effort, Matthews Southern Comfort (1970), which featured former Fairport bandmates Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol. He eventually formed a band of the same name, recording two albums for MCA and scoring a number one U.K. hit with their version of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.”

Artistically restless, Matthews formed another band, Plainsong, with Dave Richards, Andy Roberts, and Bob Ronga. From the mid-’70s on into the ’80s, Matthews dabbled in a number of different styles, from jazz-inflected pop to new wave. In the 80s, Matthews decided to call it quits after 18 years as a recording artist. This consequently led to work as an A&R man for Island Music and then Windham Hill Records, but a 1986 appearance at Fairport Convention’s annual reunion festival rekindled Matthews’ interest in performing. His retirement turned into merely a five-year hiatus, culminating with Walking a Changing Line (1988), an album dedicated solely to the songs of singer/songwriter Jules Shear.

The late ’80s saw another move for Matthews, this time to Austin, Texas, where he worked on and off with Walking a Changing Line co-producer Mark Hallman. The next decade would be Matthews’ most productive stretch since the late ’60s/early ’70s, with the release of five solo studio albums, as well as three with the re-formed Plainsong, one with the band Hamilton Pool, and a handful of live recordings. It also proved to be his most fruitful period as a writer. The ’90s also saw the release of various collections of odds and ends, including three volumes of rarities and unreleased material entitled Orphans & Outcasts.

As the ’90s came to an end, Matthews continued to stay busy, floating from project to project, recording on his own, as well as with others. Tiniest Wham was issued in early 2000, as was the Sandy Denny tribute Secrets All Told with the one-off band No Grey Faith. A collaboration with singer/songwriter Elliott Murphy (La Terre Commune) followed in 2001.

Throughout the 2000s Matthews stayed active, releasing a handful of live albums while also stretching out into unfamiliar territory and collaborations. With the Searing Quartet, he explored jazz on the 2008 album Joy Mining. He made duet albums with Egbert Derix and Ad Van Der Veen, as well as two records with the Nick Vernier Band, including a 2010 LP called Time Will Show the Wiser that also showcased Emitt Rhodes. He also cut a record with Plainsong in 2003 and one with Matthews Southern Comfort in 2010. In the early days of 2014, he released The Art of Obscurity, which he called his final solo album; he wasn’t planning to retire but rather to cease making solo records.

Mother Truckers

The Mother Truckers are a kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll band from Austin, Texas! Their music is high-octane Americana, blending elements of Country and Blues with loud guitars, big choruses and powerhouse vocals. Their creative songwriting and high energy live performances lift you up to a place that’s somewhere between a honky-tonk and a mosh-pit!

The core of the group is the singing songwriting team of Josh Zee and Teal Collins.

Josh Zee (vocals/lead guitar) has recorded 2 major label records on the SONY/Work label as the singer/guitarist and songwriter for the Rock group “Protein”. They toured extensively throughout the U.S. on “The Warped Tour” and also toured Europe and Japan as part of MTV Asia Summer Fest.

Teal Collins (vocals/ukulele/guitar) Teal’s early introduction to music was through her dad, famous Jazz disc jockey Al, “Jazzbeaux” Collins. Teal has recorded sessions for Grammy award winning producers Narada Michael Walden (Whitney Houston) and Stephen Bray (Madonna). Teal has also received Gold and Platinum albums for her work on Shanice (Motown records) and Third Eye Blind’s album Blue.

Josh and Teal formed the Mother Truckers in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2002 after meeting at a local open mic night. The Band recorded several self-released albums including fan favorite “Something Worth Dying for”.

In 2005, Josh and Teal moved their music to Texas, and set up shop in Austin, “The Live Music Capitol of the World”. There, they met local music scene veterans, Danny G (Bass) and Pete The Beat (Drums) who form The Mother Truckers powerhouse rhythm section. The band got a residency at the legendary Continental Club and quickly started drawing a large number of fans to their shows.

In 2007 they recorded their album “Broke, Not Broken” (Funzalo Records) at Ray Benson’s Bismeaux Studios in South Austin. The album was met with critical acclaim and received airplay nationwide. The Austin American Statesman’s Michael Corcoran placed the album on his top 10 list of the year as did the Village Voice’s Chuck Eddy. At SXSW The Austin Music Awards named The Mother Truckers “Best Roots Rock Band Of The Year”.

In 2008, The Mother Truckers released “Let’s All Go To Bed” (Funzalo Records) which was responded to immediately by the fans, the press, and multiple XM/Sirius satellite stations, Including “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” where the Truckers’ single “Streets of Atlanta” was picked as one of the “Coolest Songs in The World” . They also had many TV and film placements including HBO’s “True Blood” Series, feature film “Touching Home” with Ed Harris, and feature film “Wake” with Jane Seymour.

Now, in 2010, the band has a brand-new album “Van Tour”. An instant classic of in-your-face, touring band, rock and roll imagination!LITTLE STEVEN’S UNDERGROUND GARAGE

*the Mother Truckers song “SUMMER OF LOVE” has been chosen as one of the “Coolest Songs in the World” on the “Little Steven’s Underground Garage ” SIRIUS Satellite radio show.  2008’s “STREETS OF ATLANTA” was also chosen for this same distinction. Once again, Michael Corcoran from The Austin American Statesman has responded with high praise~ “… The Mother Truckers have penned an instant pop classic with ‘Keep It Simple’ from their new ‘Van Tour’ CD. The Tune, featuring Teal Collins’ sensational soaring vocals, has a nostalgic top 40 radio feel. Zee and Collins are probably the most talented guitarist/vocals tandem in Austin”.

The Mother Truckers will continue their “Van Tour” this Summer in the U.S., with a European tour in September!

Kris McKay

Following the dissolution of Austin roots rockers the Wild Seeds, co-lead vocalist Kris McKay struck out on her own for an intermittent recording career as a rootsy acoustic troubadour. A onetime drama student at the University of Texas, McKay had joined Michael Hall’s Wild Seeds — essentially an Americana band before the term came into vogue — in late 1987, just as the group was wrapping up work on their first full-length album, Brave, Clean & Reverent. She served primarily as a backing vocalist on the follow-up, 1988′s Mud, Lies & Shame, but was showcased as a lead singer on the album closer “All This Time.” When the Wild Seeds disbanded in 1989, McKay scored a solo deal with Arista, and released her debut album What Love Endures in 1990. Filled primarily with covers, the album failed to find an audience, hurt in part by the fact that adult alternative radio was not yet a widespread format. Arista dropped her, and McKay endured some long, lean years, working sporadically as a session singer while continuing to perform in the Austin area. Finally, in 1996, she resurfaced on the Shanachie label with her second album, Things That Show. A mix of seven covers and four originals, Things That Show featured a duet with Matthew Sweet on “How Cool,” as well as a distinctive reading of the English Beat’s new wave classic “Save It for Later.” McKay continued to work as a session singer and remained active around Austin until moving to Los Angeles; still, she played at Austin’s South by Southwest Festival in 1998 and 2000.

Dave McNair

Dave McNair is listed online as a mastering professional, so I’m not sure what he did at the CH. However, since he’s listed there, here’s a video about that!

25th Aug 2014 Posted in: Blog, shopkeeper 0

It’s Day 21 of the Indiegogo Campaign for The Shopkeeper: A Documentary about Mark Hallman and the Congress House. I’m thrilled to report that we are currently at 62% of our goal!

Now it’s time to meet a few more artists who have recorded at the Congress House!

Lise Liddell

Lise Liddell’s pure, silvery voice serves well the sweet and insightful melancholy of her lyrics.

Liddell’s comfortable Memorial-area upbringing prepared her for life as a Junior Leaguer, a high-profile businesswoman or both. But as a drama geek at the Kinkaid School, Liddell enjoyed the fantasy world of musical theater, playing Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and dancing and singing in dozens of high school variety shows.

She majored in theater her first year at college then switched to English before dutifully earning an MBA (and Phi Beta Kappa honors) at the University of Texas. She landed a job in banking, but soon realized it wasn’t for her.

“One day,” she says, “I just went into my office, closed the door, and started bawling my eyes out.” A colleague came in and said “It’s time for you to quit this job.” Ten years, two CDs and hundreds of shows later, Liddell feels like she made the right choice.

Here’s Lise on Wide Open Spaces with Roark:

The Low Anthem

The Low Anthem’s unique brand of Americana makes room for gospel, folk, and blues, a blend that began taking shape in their hometown of Providence, RI. Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowsky — both students at Brown University, as well as late-night DJs at the school’s radio station — formed The Low Anthem in 2006, drawing upon their background as classical composers to help mold the group’s eclectic music. Jocie Adams joined one year later, and the group began widening its arsenal of instruments accordingly, utilizing everything from World War I pump organs to crotales in the process. After making its independent debut with 2007′s What the Crow Brings, the band rang in 2008 by temporarily relocating to Block Island — a remote location 12 miles off the Rhode Island coast — to record an album with producer Jesse Lauter. The stark, serene environment proved to be appropriate for the music, which the band initially self-released under the title Oh My God, Charlie Darwin.

As their buzz continued to build, The Low Anthem signed a contract with Nonesuch Recordings and reissued Oh My God in 2009, supporting the release with a string of performances at summer festivals. Multi-instrumentalist Mat Davidson was added to the lineup later that year, joining The Low Anthem’s ranks one month before they headed to Central Falls, RI, to record a third album. Setting up a makeshift studio inside an abandoned pasta sauce factory, the group recorded Smart Flesh over a period of three months, making good use of the building’s carvernous, resonant spaces. The album was released in February 2011.

Lloyd Maines

Long before Dixie Chicks were even full-grown, Lloyd Maines (father of Dixie Chick Natalie Maines) had established himself as a country music giant, both as a legendary steel guitarist and a producer. Maines studied forestry while attending college at Texas Tech and hoped to join the parks department. Nevertheless, after landing a job at a local studio, his future was set.

Maines’ pedal steel work seems to crop up everywhere, from work by earlier non-mainstream country artists such as Joe Ely and Terry Allen to ’90s efforts by alt-country upstarts as Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, Richard Buckner, and Wagon. Perhaps more importantly, he has carved out a career as a sought-after producer. He started his producing career in 1978 in a big way: with Terry Allen’s Lubbock (On Everything), an album that has gathered immense critical momentum as time has passed, and which stands as a seminal work by the Lubbock songwriter crowd. Over the years, he has helmed albums by sometime Flatlanders Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. He has also produced for such artists as Andy Wilkinson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Will T. Massey, George Ensle, Jimmy Collins, Lost Gonzo Band, Charlie Robison, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Richard Buckner, Wayne Hancock, and Robert Earl Keen.

In the meantime, he has also laid down steel for folks such as Guy Clark, David Byrne, Dixie Chicks, and Radney Foster. He also remained involved with the Maines Brothers Band, a band with his siblings Kenny, Donnie, and Steve. The group released eight albums between 1978 and 1991.

Ben Mallott

Roots formed in old standards, a juvenile heart, and his mother’s Ray Charles albums, Austin’s Ben Mallott uses his grainy timbre to remove the punctuation between singer and songwriter.

For his first solo release, Look Good, Feel Good, Mallott’s songs range from sentimental to sad to what he calls “unpredictably genuine”. A songwriter who admits his journeys have taken him from window seats to bathroom floors, he sticks to what works and in turn churns out his distinctive brand of Americana confession.

“I’m strange about where and when I write,” Mallott explains. “I try not to move my residence too often, because it usually takes a couple of months for me to find the place in the house that sounds and feels right. Where I live now, I stand about six inches from the back door and sing into it. It didn’t take me long to have a glass door installed.”

Planting himself at Congress House Studio, a converted house on a bit of land in South Austin, Mallott was able to let the laid-back setting of a non-traditional recording space ease him into creating his music. “Our producer, Mark Hallman, and I hit it off pretty well. He owns the studio, so the arrangement unfolded somewhat naturally. Instead of taking me on a grand tour and trying to impress me, he just kind of said ‘This is it. Any questions?’ It helps to work with people who get my jokes, or at least pretend to.”

22nd Aug 2014 Posted in: Blog, shopkeeper 0

Welcome to Day 16 of the Indiegogo Campaign for The Shopkeeper: A Documentary about Mark Hallman and the Congress House. Every day during the campaign I am featuring a few artists who have recorded at the Congress House.

Robert Earl Keen

Among the large contingent of talented songwriters who emerged in Texas in the 1980s and ’90s, Robert Earl Keen struck an unusual balance between sensitive story-portraits (“Corpus Christi Bay”) and raucous barroom fun (“That Buckin’ Song”). These two song types in Keen’s output were unified by a mordant sense of humor that strongly influenced the early practitioners of what would become known as alternative country music.

I sing his amazing song “Then Came Lo Mein” with Mark Hallman on my album Men.

Bobby Keys

Born in Slaton, Texas, some 15 miles southeast of Lubbock on U.S. 84, Bobby’s life has been a sort of rock ‘n’ roll folk tale—in his early teens he bribed his way into his aunt’s neighbor Buddy Holly’s garage band rehearsals; he took up the saxophone as a high school freshman because it was the only instrument left unclaimed in the school band; he convinced his grandfather to sign his guardianship over to Crickets drummer J.I. Allison so he could go on tour as a teenager. In fact, Bobby’s experiences reflect the coming of age of rock ‘n’ roll itself. From years on the road during the waning days of early rock ‘n’ roll with hitmakers like Bobby Vee and the various acts on Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars Tour through decades as top touring and session sax man for the likes of Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, George Harrison, Delaney & Bonnie, Joe Cocker, B.B. King, Keith Moon, Sheryl Crow and countless others, and onto, perhaps most famously, an ongoing gig as a de facto Rolling Stone from 1970 onward, Bobby’s raw talent and outsized personality have elevated him from sideman to something closer to a rock ‘n’ roll icon.

 Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Ladysmith Black Mambazo was founded by Joseph Shabalala in 1974. They’ve cut well over 30 albums since, but the group did not become well known outside of South Africa until Paul Simon asked them to perform on “Graceland.” The group consists of seven bass voices, an alto, a tenor, and Shabalala singing lead.

“In Zulu singing there are three major sounds,” Shabalala explains. “A high keening ululation; a grunting, puffing sound that we make when we stomp our feet; and a certain way of singing melody. Before Black Mambazo you didn’t hear these three sounds in the same songs. So it is new to combine them, although it is still done in a traditional style. We are just asking God to allow us to polish it, to help keep our voices in order so we can praise Him and uplift the people.”


I will ask Mark, but all I can find under this name is “Kimbo Creative and Educational Music and Movement.” Hmm!