Houstonians love the blues, so expect a packed lawn for this week’s University of Houston-Downtown’s Thursday Night Concert Series at Discovery Green. This week, famed boogie woogie pianist/vocalist Marcia Ball headlines the show with special opener, The Mighty Orq.
The party starts at 6 p.m., May 24 at Discovery Green’s Fondren Performance Space with a mixer co-hosted by UHD’s Staff Council and Alumni Relations. University Community members are encouraged to register for this free event to receive complimentary refreshments.
Opening act, The Mighty Orq, has been entertaining audiences locally and internationally for nearly two decades. The native Houstonian and local guitar master takes the stage at 7 p.m. alongside his band The Unusuals. A dedicated pupil of the blues, Orq delivers heartfelt hometown blues rendered both acoustically and electrically.
Orq made time to share his thoughts on music and his anticipation of this week’s concert with Texas legend, Marcia Ball:
UHD News: When did you pick up the guitar?
Mighty Orq: Well, I started playing violin at the age of five. A few years later, I had a cousin visit us and he played guitar. He hadn’t brought his with him, and my parents bought him one from a pawn shop. When he went back home, he left it with us. When I was around 10, I decided I didn’t want to play violin any more. I picked up that guitar, started taking lessons, and got into it.
UHD News: And how did you get into playing the blues?
Mighty Orq: I had an “a-ha” moment when I was watching a kid’s show and B.B. King came on. He was playing and talking about guitar. It blew my mind, and I thought that’s it … that’s what I’m going to play.
UHD News: Who’s the musician you would most like to share the stage with?
Mighty Orq: Stevie Wonder. What he conveys through his music is joyous. That combined with the fact that he’s a brilliant musician makes him someone I’d like to work with.
UHD News: What makes Houston such a special place to be a musician?
Mighty Orq: There are plenty of gigs, so there’s a lot of opportunity here. And, there’s a variety of interesting styles of music here … Tejano, Zydeco, jazz, rock, and more. I integrate so many of those genres into the kind of music I write.
UHD News: Any advice for aspiring musicians?
Mighty Orq: I’d advise any musician to connect with other players they admire. Talk to them, ask them questions, and go to their shows. Often times, they’ll be happy to offer assistance or advice.
UHD News: What’s it like to share the stage with the legendary Marcia Ball?
Mighty Orq: She’s someone I admire and look up to. She’s been doing this for 40 years and is very successful. And, she’s stayed true to her musical vision. To maintain a sense of artistic integrity for so long is quite an accomplishment. Besides that, she’s just awesome. And, I may ask her for advice if the opportunity presents itself.
UHD News: Why do you think this kind of blues continues to resonate with audiences?
Mighty Orq: Lyrically, the music deals with human issues, and it’s very direct. It has a powerful emotional expression that connects with people. There’s just something about it that provokes a guttural reaction. It’s not dissimilar from country and jazz. It’s rooted in a visceral experience that people can relate to.
UHD News: What can people expect from the Mighty Orq this Thursday?
Mighty Orq: It’s going to be an engaging performance. I think people can expect music that’s honest and heartfelt. I hope audience come away having felt a connection with my music.