Swathed in the miasma of a sweltering concrete swamp, where the summertime heat radiates off the cracked pavement like a liquid fire mirage, lives a man who may well be Texas' best kept musical secret; The Mighty Orq.
For two decades Houston virtuoso singer/songwriter and guitarist, The Mighty Orq, has toured and recorded relentlessly, cultivating
a following that is as dedicated to his music as he is himself. And he's done so while eschewing the normal tactics that are the hallmarks of the larger music business. “I always wanted to have the creative freedom to present music that's authentic and speaks to people. That's not always easy, or in a lot of cases, even possible, when you follow the traditional music business model,” says Orq. “Plus everyone always wants to pin you down as an artist in terms of genre. I guess that makes it easier to fit in whatever box the industry wants to market you in. But that just never felt natural to me."
As a teenager Orq began playing full time with bands around the gulf coast, soaking up the sounds, stories, and lessons from musicians three times his age. “It was unbelievably eye-opening. At seventeen I thought I had music all pretty-well figured out. Then I heard Texas Johnny Brown and Alan Haynes play. After that it was like, 'Well, back to the drawing board.'”
Over the years of listening to and learning from past masters both on stage and off, Orq has recorded an album that is both uniquely
himself, and also an homage to his home and musical predecessors. The music spans a range of styles from bluegrass and delta blues
to psychedelic rock and singer/songwriter Americana.
Songs like “Stolen,” and “The Outlaw,” seamlessly combine elements from Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta into high-energy
dirges about bank robber, Prettyboy Floyd and the 19th century railroad baron known as “The Commodore,” respectively. The psychedelic rock song, “Boogie Man,” arranged by Orq and penned by his friend, swamp pop songwriter extraordinaire, Benny Brasket, discusses issues of gun violence and climate change by an omniscient, and sligthly deranged narrator. “Old Soldier,” a tribute to Orq's late grandfather, a WWII veteran, "Heart of Darkness," and the Lyle Lovett classic, “If I Had A Boat,” feature traditional elements of the proverbial Texas singer/songwriter. The secondline, “Shongaloo,” blends zydeco, country, and gospel while “Cold Hearted” is an out-and-out southern rocker somewhere between ZZ Top and AC/DC.
This mixture of such disparate styles on a single album would often be considered a negative, but Orq, alongside producer
Derek Hames and recording engineer John Shelton of Edgewater Music Group, have managed to thread the musical needle
creating a cohesive collection of songs that present the rich variety of roots music that is the gulf coast's stock-in-trade.
And through it all, Orq and his band keep performing and writing. “I've been doing this my whole life, and it's still something I enjoy wholeheartedly. And it's really the only thing I know,” Orq laughs. “Seriously, though, it's a tough business, and I'm grateful to have had the success I've had so far. To be able to play all the music that I love, in all the these different styles, and have people respond to it in this wonderfully positive way; that's a huge win in my book.”
In the ever-changing and nebulous landscape of the 21st century music industry, The Mighty Orq has managed to carve out a rare measure of success: writing, recording, and performing his own music for devoted fans, and making a living doing it. That is indeed a huge win for any artist. In anyone's book.
Heart of Darkness
If I Had a Boat
Music and Lyrics Written by The Mighty Orq**
**Except “If I Had a Boat,” written by Lyle Lovett, "Boogeyman," music written by The Mighty Orq, lyrics written by Benny Brasket, "Heart of Darkness," music written by The Mighty Orq, lyrics written by Barbara Wolf, "The Outlaw music written by The Mighty Orq, lyrics written by The Mighty Orq and Mark Riddell
Produced by Derek Hames
Recorded and Mixed by John Shelton
Edited by Derek Hames and Konstantin Korotaev
Mastered by John Moran
Recorded and Mixed at Edgewater Studios (Sugar Land, TX)
Executive Producer: Jarred Lasseter
The Mighty Orq: Lead and Backing Vocals, Electric Guitars, Acoustic Guitars, Dobro
Mark Riddell: Bass Guitars, Backing Vocals
Chris Ardoin: Drums and Percussion
Barry Seelen: Hammond Organ
Derek Hames: Hammond Organ, Guitar, Backing Vocals, Percussion
Jimmy Moreland: Hammond Organ, Mandolin