Few songwriters have achieved Eliza Gilkyson’s poetic soup of inventiveness, gravitas and sheer emotion. Her songs are a flowing literature of joy, regret and feminine wisdom, infused with stubborn morality and deep conscience.

The entertainment industry was always a part of Glikyson’s life, and music was always in her blood. The daughter of singer and songwriter Terry Gilkyson, perhaps best known for his sixties work with Disney, and sister of Tony Gilkyson, who played guitar for Lone Justice and X, Eliza grew up in the hustle and bustle of Hollywood.

Tragedy struck when her mother was killed in an automobile accident. Still in her teens, Eliza sought refuge from the pain in the rural southwest. Trading cosmopolitan for communal, worlds away from all she had known in urban California, she began to hone her life’s vision in the wilds of New Mexico.

Michael had the privilege of visiting with Eliza recently…




“Journeyman” usually refers to a seasoned and reliable guitarist or drummer, but what does it mean for a songwriter? In the case of Walt Wilkins, it means an everyman master who has portrayed, with passion and wisdom, all of the high hills and deep creases of our lives. A native of San Antonio and an Austinite for years, Wilkins is one of those artists who can only be fully understood through a grasp of his entire body of work, which is substantial. He emerges as a man of wisdom, a beacon for the rest of us, maybe even a healer.

Working quietly in the “next big thing” hustle of the Austin music scene, Wilkins has steadily gathered converts and friends, even a few disciples. His pieces resonate over time, simple in the beginning but becoming profound observations of universal truths.

Michael had the opportunity to visit with Walt in the condo recently…




If you’re a two-stepper, find Justin Trevino in a Hill Country beer joint and travel back a few decades. Born in Brownsville, raised in Austin and now living in Brady, Trevino delivers impeccable “pure country” originals in the footsteps of yesterday’s Ray PriceFaron Young and Floyd Tillman. Look for Trevino with the wonderful Amber Digby at the Broken Spoke, or at a beer joint or VFW Post in Fredericksburg, Brady, Bandera, Possum Kingdom, Colorado City, Navasota or Marathon. Slick back your hair, put on your boots and hit the floor!

Michael caught up with Justin recently at the condo…




Some artists channel a calm wisdom that is as comforting as a father’s voice. We listen because their words feel right and true, gifts that might help us through our own dark nights. Chip Taylor is such an artist.

The quality of Taylor’s music, and his kinship to the great Texas songwriters, was best expressed when critic Anthony DeCurtis said “if names like Willie Nelson, Guy ClarkKris Kristofferson and Townes Van Zandt mean anything to you, you should make a point of discovering Chip Taylor.”

Born James Wesley Voight to a Yonkers, New York family of diverse movers and shakers, Taylor has been a performing songwriter for over fifty years now. But that’s only part of this illustrious family story. Brother Jon became a renowned actor (and the father of Angelina Jolie), and Barry is a noted academic and volcanologist. Father Elmer was an ace golfer, and Chip initially intended to follow in his footsteps.

Michael had the opportunity to visit with Chip in a phone interview recently…




Having been mentioned, with other visionaries, in Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Name Droppin’”, Mary Gauthier has plenty of Texas cred and the life lessons to back it up. Gauthier writes dark pictures of lost love and life gone awry, and sings them deep like the brackish waters of a Louisiana bayou.

Michael had the opportunity to catch-up with Mary the other day…be sure to check out their discussion on sad songs.




Regardless of your political stripes, the division facing our country is profound and undeniable, particularly in light of the friction of the recent election. Songwriter Gary Nicholson has reimagined the lyrics of our nation’s song, “God Bless America”, as a plea for unity and healing in these difficult times. Jeff Plankenhorn lends his powerful voice and perfect strings. The result is pure solace. Just in time.

Never forget, folks, that we are all in the same foxhole.

A|S will be hosting a song swap with Jeff Plankenhorn, BettySoo and Ben Balmer at Pershing, Austin’s newest music venue, on Thursday, December 8th. Click here for ticket information.




Jeff Plankenhorn is a larger than life presence on stage. A big man with a kind smile and generous demeanor, he is often the bedrock that binds a host of talents into a moving whole. Then he picks up his slide, looks down in his lap and the joint starts hopping.

Plankenhorn made his name in Austin as a preeminent guitar slinger, especially as a slide specialist. He has also found time to put pen to paper and is increasingly known for his impressive songwriting and powerful voice. With the recent release of SoulSlide, a collection of mostly original work, he has completed his bona fides as both a master instrumentalist and an important songwriter and singer.

Michael had the distinct pleasure of hanging out with Plank at the condo in Austin recently…




Michael Fracasso’s voice is high, pure and lonesome, but full of hope and strength, and his delicate songs beg us to feel a little deeper. On-stage he is a cultural chameleon, Italian-American, Ohioan,Texan, maybe even Oklahoman. An Austinite since 1990, he is one of the city’s near secrets, hard to catch but held dear by those in the know. He has recorded with the likes of Lucinda Williams and Patty Griffin, and has released a number of albums that ache with insight and gentle beauty.

Fracasso stopped by the condo to visit with Michael Allison the other day…




It’s like you finally started listening to your old drunk uncle from Shreveport and realized he was channeling an enlightened hillbilly cocktail of Tom Waits, Ernest Hemingway and Lenny Bruce. Kevin Russell, aka “Shinyribs”, begins as an assault on your senses and becomes a journey that cannot be described but must be experienced.

Russell found his way to Austin in 1993 and founded a band called The Gourds, which held his artistic attention until 2007, when he yielded to his creative side and began to also perform as Shinyribs. Over the years, Russell has grown his instrumental repertoire to include mandolin, banjo, and most recently the ukulele. Few sights can rival big ol’ Kevin wailing on a tiny wooden uke, or busting out a hillbilly acapella on a moment’s notice. Listening to this creative giant might evoke Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Wonder and Woody Guthrie, and he has shared the stage with the likes of Jon Dee GrahamRay Wylie HubbardMark RubinScrappy Jud Newcomb and Michael Fracasso. Enter this psyche. You’re tough enough.

Michael had the pleasure of spending some time with the unique and one of a kind Shinyribs at the condo recently…




BettySoo writes profound pop/folk with just enough country to makes things comfortable. At once powerful and vulnerable, she handles us like a big sister with everything in hand. BettySoo reminds us of both our strength and our fragility, but her real message is to carry on, through the trials of life and love, and find the joy. Always find the joy.

Michael caught up with her at the condo recently…




K Phillips leads mostly from the keyboard, singing and occasionally grabbing a guitar in the course of his barn-burning live performances. Sort of like The Isley Brothers calling Billy Sol Estes to the stage in a thumping Tom Green County beer joint. Just try to keep your rear in the chair when Phillips gets the rhythm pumping and that Hammond honking.

Recently Michael had the opportunity to visit with K before one of his shows in San Antonio…




Miles Zuniga is an incredible songwriter and a member of Fastball and The Resentments. In 2011 he released his first solo recording, These Ghosts Have Bones. Gorgeous hooks, brilliant melodies and Beatle-esque flourishes only briefly disguise this work as the howl of a man with a broken heart. This is gorgeous angst!

Another solo release is on the way, as is another album from Fastball.

Michael caught up with Miles at the condo in Austin…