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Lockhart Songwriter Series begins anew

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The acclaimed series Evenings with the Songwriter at Lockhart’s historic Dr. Eugene Clark Library begins anew on Tuesday, July 26, at 7 p.m.

Started in 2010 by Lockhart songwriter Fletcher Clark, the monthly event was halted early in its 10th season of 2020 as the COVID pandemic made such gatherings unwise. The series will resume its presentations on the last Tuesday of each month (except December), free to the public, supported by Old Settler’s Music Festival and Lockhart’s Friends of the Song.

“Not long after I moved to Lockhart, I realized that, as a songwriter, I might be trying to sell escargot in a barbeque town,” Fletcher Clark said. “Then I attended a presentation at the Dr. Eugene Clark Library by author/historian Chuck Parsons (we have since become quite good friends and colleagues) wherein he described his methodology in researching and preparing his latest book. That inspired me to ask library director Bertha Martinez if I could have a night to present and discuss songwriting as a literary form. She said, ‘Sure, if you think anyone will come.’ They did, and in subsequent months I was given encouragement by some locally civic-minded folks and the wider community of songwriter colleagues always looking for a way to connect with audiences, joining me to explore the art and craft of songwriting.”

Deriving its format from the Emmy-award winning series ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ created and hosted by James Lipton, Evenings with the Songwriter is not really a performance nor an interview nor a song swap nor a lecture, but with elements of all. Celebrated artists have included Shake Russell, Tish Hinojosa, Vince Bell, Butch Hancock, Christine Albert, Dana Cooper, Susan Gibson, Ken Gaines, Rex Foster, Eric Taylor, Shelley King, Walt Wilkins, and scores more. This abbreviated 2022 season begins anew as it originally began – featuring Clark. He will be accompanied by guitarist Kevin Mooney, senior lecturer at nearby Texas State University. The 2022 season will continue with Talia Bryce (Aug. 23), Stoney Gabel (Sept. 27), Lisa Fancher (Oct. 25), and Brian Kalinec (Nov. 29).

Clark’s long and storied career in music began in his native San Antonio playing professionally in his early teenage years. Although an economics major at elite liberal arts Williams College in Massachusetts, he took more music than economics, in the honors composition program. Following two post-graduation years as a banker in Boston, in 1972 he returned to Texas and became business manager of legendary Austin concert hall Armadillo World Headquarters. He also founded there the show band Balcones Fault, one of Austin’s cultural treasures. When the band’s West Coast record deal and relocation both fizzled in 1979, he returned to Austin to handle all marketing for the Armadillo and for its emerging record label and recording studio. He began a new career as sideman for Texas songwriters Steven Fromholz, Bobby Bridger, Dee Moeller, Riley Osbourn, Rick Beresford, Gary P. Nunn, Rusty Wier, Kenneth Threadgill, and many more.

“I had never considered myself a songwriter, other than the few I had written over the years as personal releases from failed relationships and such,” Clark said. One day he realized he had accumulated a few dozen new songs and proceeded to release them on his critically acclaimed 2010 Armadillo Records CD, ‘Taking Turns,’ for which he produced 12 songs presented by 12 different artists/acts and 50 top Austin session musicians in six different studios. He has gone on to perform and record six more collections on CD; his complete discography to date includes recordings of nearly 100 of his originals. These include faith-based songs written for his Emmanuel Episcopal Church (where he and Kevin Mooney play on Sundays), as well as songs of Texas history. Clark’s music ministry reaches out to other churches and faiths and includes his composition of a complete Sung Eucharist (“folk mass”). He also appears regularly for Texas history groups, libraries, and museums with his colleague, Lockhart author/historian Donaly Brice. Together they produce Lockhart’s annual Plum Creek Symposium in August.

Clark continues his annual involvement with the Kerrville Folk Festival — “I first played the main stage in 1974, and then many times after that with many different songwriters; and while it has been some years since those appearances, my connection to the festival remains strong, my contributions behind the scenes.”

When Old Settler’s Music Festival acquired its permanent home in eastern Caldwell County, Clark welcomed it to Lockhart. The Festival in turn asked him to host its annual kick-off campground Open Mic, beginning a continuing and mutually supportive relationship.

The Dr. Eugene Clark Library Lyceum is the oldest continually operating library building in Texas. Its ambiance offers a special intimacy for Evenings with the Songwriter, appreciated by audience and guests alike. The series is presented to the public free of charge on the last Tuesday of the month (except December), thanks to City of Lockhart Library Director Bertha Martinez and her staff. Support comes from Old Settlers Music Festival and Lockhart Friends of the Song (Todd Blomerth & Patti Payne, Donaly & Clare Brice, and Robert & Esther Wilson).

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