Mike & The Moonpies Releasing Album of Unheard Gary Stewart

photo: Brad Coolidge

Well well well. We though Mike and the Moonpies caught us completely off guard last August when they released a surprise album on us called Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold recorded in London. Well the next trick up their sleeve is even more out of left field, but just as exciting, if not more if you can believe it.

During the hour long “season finale” of the band’s “Live From The Prairie Rose” variety streaming sessions they’ve been doing on Facebook since the COVID-19 shutdown, they announced they have a brand new record of completely unreleased and unheard songs written by country legend Gary Stewart on the way this Thursday, May 28th, which also happens to be Gary Stewart’s birthday.

“So we have a record coming out on Thursday, and Thursday is the King of the Honky Tonks Gary Stewart’s birthday,” Mike Harmeier announced with everyone else in the band in sequestered squares on the screen, including their producer/manager Adam Odor, and their sometimes keyboard player John Carbone. Mike explained how the band was put in touch with Gary Stewart’s daughter Shannon, as well as Tommy Schwartz who runs Stewart’s estate, and the idea for Touch of You – The Lost Songs of Gary Stewart came together.

“What they sent to me was about 20 songs of Gary’s unreleased that we were going to choose from, and maybe do one or two of them. But we decided to do a full on 10 song record of those songs,” Mike explained. “We had six under our belt by the time the quarantine started, and we went ahead and did four more during quarantine. Everybody bought home studio rigs, everybody tracked at their house, and sent it all to Adam [Odor]. Kyle [Ponder] (drummer) did go to Yellow Dog [Studios] to cut the drum tracks for it. And then we wrapped it up about two days ago.”

Anyone who knows both the Gary Stewart catalog and Mike and the Moonpies knows that Stewart was a primary influence on the band. Back during the band’s days of playing extended sets in Austin honky tonks, many Gary Stewart songs made it into the rotation.

“My dad kept asking me when I was talking about it if we were going to do the songs we used to do in the set, because we used to play a lot of Gary,” Mike said. “But the whole point is to do these songs. A big part of this is turning people on to Gary who didn’t know Gary before. We wouldn’t be who we are without Gary.”

Due to the quick turnaround time to make it available on Gary Stewart’s birthday, the album will only be available digitally to start. The band wasn’t initially planning to release the record now, but since they are unable to tour, decided to go ahead and finish and release it now. So there is no pre-order or merch packages available, but they promise there will be in the future.

“I do just want to say thanks so much to Shannon his daughter for being so cool during this whole thing, and letting us do our thing with it. No questions asked. They’re very happy someone is helping to keep his legacy going. We’re honored obviously to be a part of that,” Mike Harmeier said.

The album also includes some guest appearances from Jamie Lin Wilson, Courtney Patton, Zac Wilkerson, and though they haven’t officially announced it yet, from the track list Saving Country Music was able to procure, it appears Mark Wystrach of Midland also makes a very meta appearance on a track.

You can see the full announcement, as well as listen to three songs and hear the stories behind them in the video below. All but one of the songs from the album are completely unheard. The title track was released at one point as a B-side, but is not currently available anywhere via streaming services.

Touch of You – The Lost Songs of Gary Stewart Track List:

1. Bottom of the Pile
2. Smooth Shot of Whiskey (feat. Mark Wystrach)
3. Touch of You
4. Life’s a Game
5. Dance With Barbara
6. The Gold Barstool
7. That’s Life
8. The Finished Product
9. I’m Guilty
10. Heart At Home

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