Lyle Lovett approved
Nothing to sell but the Austin sound: Kelly Willis goes Lone Star at the Duck
As a college town, a state capital and the unofficial capital of Lone Star music, Austin is a town of out-of-towners.
Youth head there to pursue academics, get drunk on Sixth Street and root for Longhorns football. City and county politicians from around the state head there to pursue state jobs that will eventually lead to national politics ... and to drink beer and root for Longhorns football (as long as they do not represent Waco, Lubbock or College Station and it's not politically incorrect to do so).
Musicians go to Austin to learn how to write songs from the best club and bar room scholars in the country and hope they learn enough that someone might someday want to hear their songs played aloud.
Be it student, politico or singer-songwriter, most move on after a few years ... but a select few end up representing the Austin experience their whole lives.
Kelly Willis is one of these chosen talents (and she's playing two shows at McDonigel's Mighty Duck tonight).
Raised in Virginia, Willis came to Austin as a member of a series of post-high school rockabilly influenced bands.
The groups folded quickly, but Willis' voice caught they eye of several tall Texans — including Nanci Griffith and Lyle Lovett — and eventually MCA records.
Willis's debut album, Well Travelled Love came out in 1990, but it wasn't until nearly a decade later (and several divorces from the manipulating, meddling hands of major record labels) that Willis truly blossomed with the unhurried balladry and songbird range showcased on the album What I Deserve.
Today Willis still lives in Austin, but ironically her life is no longer all about music. She is the wife of singer-songwriter Bruce Robison and the mother of four. She has no album to push (her last was 2007's Translated From Love) which makes this tour a bit of a free-for-all.
Just know that, whatever Willis decides to pull out of her musical bag of tricks at the Duck, it will be Austin-born and Lone-Star-approved.
Saturday, July 10
Kelly Willis @ 7:00 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. at McGonigel's Mucky Duck