Our first exposure to Michael was at the Red River Songwriters' Festival in 2017, where he was a guest "sideman" ... meaning he wasn't a featured artist, but he played guitar and sang with featured performers Slaid Cleaves, John Fullbright, Walt Wilkins, Kelley Mickwee, Susan Gibson ... well, you get the idea. He played 4-5 shows each day, playing songs written by other people, and played some incredible guitar all the way through.
Michael is also a pretty great songwriter, and that we often writes & performs with a few of our favorites - like Slaid Cleaves, Jeff Plankenhorn, Adam Carroll and others. Michael has released four solo records, two with Jeff Plankenhorn, and one with Adam Carroll.
And so it was in March, 2019, when we first got to host Michael in a duo show with Jeff Plankenhorn. We knew immediately we'd be inviting them both back.
From Michael's website: "Michael O'Connor is a guitarist, singer and songwriter living in Washington State. For decades he has performed and recorded with musicians including Ray Wylie Hubbard, Slaid Cleaves, Adam Carroll, Susan Gibson, Terri Hendrix, and Jeff Plankenhorn. A lifetime of hard-won experience has allowed Michael a rare insight into the world of the rough, the faithless, the romantic, and the unlucky, all of whom find refuge in his songs. Michael has toured throughout the United States and overseas, performing in esteemed venues and festivals. In June 2010, Michael was inducted into the South Texas Music Walk of Fame in Corpus Christi, Texas, with a star bearing his name. He has released seven albums and is continuing to release new music."
"When I heard the songs on Great Northern for the first time, I was floored. I knew I was hearing a true songwriter, and a true craftsman. These songs deal with real moments, elements, depths of the human spirit. The songs here still move me. Welcome a strong collection of songs and a new clear, bold voice.”
OK, kind of a weird way to introduce a new artist to MCC. But if you've been around us for awhile, you also know there could be no better introduction than these words from WW.
Terry Klein has been on our radar for awhile now, and we're pretty excited to finally begin promoting his upcoming show here.
A self-described "recovering lawyer" who settled in Austin after moving around the country a bit, Terry wrote his first song at 40. He's been busy ever since. Since 2017, Terry has released four records - the first two produced by Walt Wilkins, and his latest - Leave The Light On - was just released in November 2023.
Terry's songwriting reminds me a little of James McMurtry, and maybe a little Mary Gauthier ... deep, rich, visual stories, filled with ironies, that you can't help becoming immersed in.
"Terry Klein’s songs bring me into his world, they make the crossing from one heart to another with ease. 'Better Luck Next Time' could have been written by Springsteen, Van Zandt, or Earle. But, no, this amazing song came from the guitar of a wonderful new voice in songwriting - Terry Klein. Close your eyes, give a listen, and let his songs take you on a ride. It’s a beautiful journey."
When an Ordinary Elephant song begins to play, it doesn't take long - a few notes of Pete's banjo or octabe mandolin, or one phrase of Crystal's unique singing voice - you just know you're listening to an OE song.
Crystal is the poet - she writes most of the lyrics, covering topics like PTSD (The War), school violence (If I Am Being Honest), and an anthem to us old guys (I Hope To Be That Happy) - always with a unique perspective.
Pete is the instrumentalist - his sparse "play only when needed" approach is unique, and it just seems like he can play anything with strings.
Together, their voices blend into an unmistakable sound.
OE just finished a very successful Kickstarter to put the finishing touches on their third record, which will be released on May 3.
We're so excited to welcome Crystal and Pete back to MCC for their third appearance.. If you're not familiar with OE's music ... they have showcased at AmericanaFest and Folk Alliance for several years, were Kerrville New Folk Finalists in 2017, and were named Artist of the Year at the International Folk Music Awards in 2018.