Malford Milligan

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Malford Milligan (born March 29, 1959) is an American, Austin, Texas-based soul, blues and gospel singer. He is an eight-time award-winner as "Best Vocalist" at the annual Austin Music Awards (last awarded in 2015).

Early life[edit]

Malford Milligan was born in Taylor, Texas, to Frank and Mary Milligan. In 1981, after a period as a sociology student at Texas Tech University, Milligan moved to Austin to begin studies at the University of Texas. Instead, his Monday night blues jams became the beginning of a life in music. His first local band, Stick People, launched his career as a singer.


In 1994, Milligan helped form and fronted the Texas supergroup, Storyville, with guitarists David Holt, David Grissom, and the rhythm section from Stevie Ray Vaughan's Double Trouble: bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton. Storyville released four critically acclaimed albums: Bluest Eyes (1994), A Piece Of Your Soul (1996), Dog Years (1998) and the reunion 2CD/DVD release Live At Antone’s (2008).

As a session singer, Milligan toured and worked on albums together with other musicians, including Doyle Bramhall II, Marcia Ball, Alejandro Escovedo, Sue Foley, Eric Johnson, Stephen Bruton, Chris Smither and Hal Ketchum.

For several decades, Malford has been the lead singer at the weekly Blue Monday nights at Antone’s Nightclub, in the house-band.

Malford appeared on Live And Beyond, by Alien Love Child featuring fellow Austin guitarist Eric Johnson, in 2000. He can be heard on "Once a Part of Me" and "Don't Cha Know". Alive And More by Funky London was another 2000 release Malford appeared on as lead vocalist. That same year he also contributed vocals to Throw Me A Bone, by local band Neighbor's Dog, on "Sister Sister", "Bridge To The Other Side" and "Today".

During this productive period he also expanded his horizons from strictly secular music, featuring with Stephen Bruton on one song (“Touch The Hem Of His Garment”) on The Gospel According to Austin (2000) and contributing nine songs to The Gospel According to Austin, Vol. 2 (2001).

In 2001 a remake of the Joe Tex classic "I Want To Do Everything For You" was recorded as a duet with Toni Price, and was released on her Midnight Pumpkin album. That same year Malford was also featured on two songs on the Double Trouble album Been A Long Time ("Cry Sky" and "Skyscraper") plus the nationwide tour that followed the release of that album.

In 2002 Milligan recorded and released the Sweet Cherry Soul album, backed by a band from The Netherlands that was put together by Milligan's friend and Dutch musician/producer Jack Hustinx [1]. The album contains original material written by Milligan & Hustinx as well as a blend of known and obscure Soul, Rhythm & Blues and Gospel classics. Also two songs written by Milligan's close friend Stephen Bruton were included. This band, The Malford Milligan Band, played three tours in The Netherlands in 2002-2003, as well as a tour in and around Milligan's hometown Austin, Texas, in 2003.

Milligan also fronted ex-Was Not Was guitarist Randy Jacobs' band The Boneshakers in 2001-2003, releasing the albums Pouring Gasoline in 2001 and Put Some Booty On It in 2002. He left The Boneshakers to form his own group in Austin called The Malford Milligan Band (like its Dutch predecessor), which self-released Rides Again in 2004 [2] and No Good Deed Goes Unpunished in 2006.

In 2007 Milligan performed, alongside Stephen Bruton, Delbert McClinton, Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, Joe Ely and Ruthie Foster at the big "Road To Austin" concert in Austin, which was later released as a concert-movie and DVD in 2015.

Also in 2007, Malford embarked on the M-P-TU project, together with guitarist Phil Brown, bass-player Mark Andres and drummer Pat Mastelotto. The band released an album entitled M-P-TU in 2008.

In 2007/2009, he was touring with electric guitarist Greg Koch. Together they formed a band called Nation Sack — drawing their name from the lyrics of a Robert Johnson song entitled "Come On in My Kitchen" — blending electric blues and rock styles. When performing live, Nation Sack covers songs from Jeff Beck and Led Zeppelin, such as "Hi-Ho Silver Lining," "Rock and Roll," and excerpts from "Dazed and Confused" and "Heartbreaker." With Greg Koch, Malford released two albums: Live On The Radio (2007) and Nation Sack (2009).

In 2009 Malford moved back to Austin. After his longtime friend Stephen Bruton passed away on May 9, Malford fronted the band at a special memorial show at the Saxon Pub. Recordings of this show were released on CD as An Evening With The Music Of Stephen Bruton in 2010. Another highlight of his return to Austin was his appearance (along with ex-Storyville's David Grissom) at Antone's for Blue Tuesday on 20 October 2009. The last two songs performed at this were "Change is Gonna Come" which appeared on Storyville's first album and "What Passes for Love" from Storyville's second album.

He can be heard on the Eric Johnson album Up Close released in 2010 singing "Brilliant Room". He appeared on The Voice NBC TV series on September 30, 2013. He sang Al Green's "Let's Stay Together".

In 2013 Malford joined the weekly residency of The Apostles Of Manchaca at Austin's Strange Brew listening-room, until the venue closed in January 2017.

In 2014 Malford contributed vocals to Open Mic At The Knick by The Knickerbocker All Stars from Rhode Island. He can be heard on Bobby Blue Bland's "Turn On Your Love Light" and on "Love Disease".

At the 33rd annual Austin Music Awards in March 2015, Milligan received his 8th award for being Austin's best vocalist, as voted by the general public. Also in 2015 Malford started playing with a new band in Austin, Big Cat, along with guitarist Dave Sebree, bass-player Roscoe Beck and drummer Tom Brechtlein. An album entitled Big Cat was released at the end of 2015.

At the same time, Malford and his Dutch friend Jack Hustinx were working together again, co-writing four songs for Hustinx' solo-album Over Yonder [3], with Malford also performing on those tracks as guest vocalist. On two of those tracks ("Life Will Humble You" and "I Won't Surrender") Malford and Hustinx got assistance from John Magnie and Steve Amedée of The Subdudes from New Orleans. After the release in November 2015, Milligan and Hustinx fronted their band The Southern Aces on a tour in the Netherlands to promote the album.

In 2016 Malford recorded a duet with Jeff Plankenhorn, reviving the Sam & Dave classic "You Got Me Hummin", which was featured on Plankenhorn's Soulslide album later that same year. After Big Cat folded in 2016, Malford started a new band with guitarist Tyrone Vaughan called the Milligan Vaughan Project. With this band an album with the same name was recorded and released in 2017. That same year Malford recorded a remake of the O.V. Wright classic "Nickel And A Nail", featured on Brad Stivers' album Took You Long Enough.

Also in 2017, Malford and Hustinx teamed up again. In May 2018, the two announced a new album they had been collaborating on for the last year, co-writing songs and exchanging ideas for a new Malford Milligan & The Southern Aces album that Hustinx would be producing. Life Will Humble You was released late October 2018 on the Dutch label Royal Family Records [4] (founded by renowned Dutch singer/songwriter JW Roy). Coinciding tours in both The Netherlands and Texas are also scheduled.


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