Luke McGlathery is a busy dude. If the Fort Worth singer-songwriter isn’t playing gigs to promote his new album Life Ain’t Hard, or backing up his friends on bass or fiddle for their own shows, his evenings are occupied hosting open mic nights around town or putting together shows for other artists.
But staying busy is exactly the way McGlathery likes it –– he almost had to cancel a scheduled interview with a Fort Worth Weekly reporter because he forgot about a gig backing up Vincent Neil Emerson. Luckily, the outdoor show was rained out.
Every square on the Fort Worth native’s wall calendar is filled with names of venues, other artists, and notes about the role he will be playing each night.
“Tomorrow I am playing a show at The Colonial,” he said, pointing at a page. “I don’t know much about it other than it’s a golf event and there is supposed to be a lot of people there.”
Don’t take the lack of detail as the typical slacker musician trait. McGlathery followed up his shortage of specifics about that gig with a complete run-down of the 20 or so artists who would be joining him at the Fort Worth Songwriters Showcase at Lola’s Saloon later that week.
McGlathery has been on his own since he was 16 years old, but the now 25-year-old knows he couldn’t have made it to where he is now without the help of friends. Because of that, he spends almost as much time working with others as he does on his personal projects.
“I recorded two EPs for Vincent Neil Emerson a few years ago that helped set him off,” he said. “And Leon [Bridges] put my name in his special thanks section on his album.”
Indeed, no matter how many locals lay claim to being around before Bridges became an international sensation, there can be no denying that McGlathery’s weekly open-mic nights (then staged at the now defunct Where House) was one of the spots where he tried out new material.
But recognition for helping Bridges or Emerson is hardly what McGlathery is looking for when pointing out facts like those.
“If some of us can figure out how to make a living making music, or art, or whatever it is that you are trying to do, it just makes sense for us to help each other out,” he said. “I really enjoy creating with other people and finding ways for as many people to experience it as possible. I don’t have any interest in having a day job. I’ve done that before. This is what I want my career to be.”
Although he has been a full-time musician for the past four years, making music isn’t the only way McGlathery stays busy. A search of his name on YouTube not only pulls up videos of his performances but also leads to his personal page, which features videos he has shot for other local artists such as Fort Worth’s jangle-pop junkies The Hendersons or fellow Vincent Neil Emerson bandmate Denver Williams.
While his debut album Life Ain’t Hard is only a few months old, McGlathery is ready to record a follow-up LP. And again, finding a way to incorporate his friends is at the front of his mind.
“The new album is going to be recorded next month, here at home, with a full band,” he said. “It will have a few originals and a few of my favorite songs that my friends have written.”
McGlathery is still hosting weekly open-mic nights every Monday at Lola’s and is a few weeks into a Tuesday night residency at Magnolia Motor Lounge that runs through June 21.
You can download Life Ain’t Hard on Bandcamp or pick it up from him in person somewhere around town just about any night of the week.