Born Stefan Murphy, Dublin-based The Mighty Stef is the latest in the long line of wayward Irish poet-rockers that stretches back to Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott and the Pogues' Shane MacGowan. But don't take our word for it — since 2006, Stef has been managed by Frank Murray, who also guided Thin Lizzy's career (and co-wrote "The Boys are Back in Town") and continues to handle MacGowan's affairs. Small wonder, then, that MacGowan surfaces to duet on Townes Van Zandt's "Waitin' Around to Die" on Stef's new album 100 Midnights, a slurry, mostly acoustic gospel-influenced gypsy carnival that belongs on the same shelf as Tom Waits, Billy Bragg and Nick Cave. "Waitin'," with ex-TVZ guitarist Phillip Donnelly on slide, isn't the only Houston-connected song on Midnights, either: "Russian Roulette" pays tribute to the late, great Johnny Ace, the Memphis R&B crooner who famously (and, most people believe, accidentally) shot himself in front of his girlfriend and Big Mama Thornton backstage at the old City Auditorium on Christmas night 1954. No reason to wait until Stef returns for SXSW to crack that bottle of Powers, then — but please, son, don't take your guns to town.
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