Houseal releases 'Playing to a Full House'

AUTHOR, columnist and musician Phil Houseal has written a book featuring 60 stories of Hill Country music and musicians.

From his first trips to the Texas as a professional musician in 1978, to writing columns covering the musicians and music he used to play, Phil Houseal has had a front row seat on the arts and entertainment of the Texas Hill Country.

Houseal has released a book with stories on more than 50 of those artists, “Playing to a Full House.”

“People have been asking me for years to compile my best pieces into a book,” Houseal said. “The challenge was that I still have to turn out seven columns every month along with the work I do for my PR clients. I couldn’t stop writing articles long enough to start writing the book.”

But this year, he decided to step down after 20 years running the popular Club Ed adult education program, giving him more time to work on his own projects, including starting his marketing firm, Full House PR.

The book itself covers a wide range of artists and topics. That was another challenge.

“How do you put an interview with Ray Price next to a story about a guy that plays the turkey baster next to a tender story about the clown who lost her child?” he said. “The answer? I just did it. And I think it works. That’s life, after all.”

Some of the chapters break real news. For example, he writes about what guitar whiz Monte Montgomery learned as a boy at Luckenbach (Hint: It makes the author embarrassed); how a radio star was blackballed by Bing Crosby; and why Larry Gatlin would have changed one of his hit songs.

Many of the stories have a Hill Country connection. He interviews 13th Floor Elevators drummer John Ike Walton, Boerne resident and opera tenor Don Braswell, and Fredericksburg residents Stephanie Urbina Jones, John Arthur Martinez, along with many local characters, including a mysterious Elvis who still plays Main Street in Fredericksburg.

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