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Mike and The Moonpies Announce Surprise Album of Unrecorded Gary Stewart Songs

Benjamin Yanto Photography

The cat's out of the bag: Mike and The Moonpies cut a Gary Stewart tribute album, and it'll be available online this Thursday, May 28.

The band broke the news on Saturday night's season finale of its Live From The Prairie Rose web series. Saving Country Music reports further details about Touch of You- The Lost Songs of Gary Stewart, including a track list which promises a collaboration with Midland's Mark Wystrach.

Saving Country Music mentions Jamie Lin Wilson, Courtney Patton and Zac Wilkerson as additional guests on Mike and The Moonpies' second surprise album in less than a year. Symphonic country throwback Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold got a similar roll-out last August.

"We are beyond honored to carry the torch for our hero, and share his work with fans new and old," the band wrote on Instagram. "We want to thank Gary's daughter Shannon and his best friend Tommy (Schartz) for entrusting us and supporting us in this endeavor. We hope to do this music justice."

Per Moonpies lead singer Mark Harmeier, what the band initially intended to be one or two recordings cut during quarantine turned into a much more involved process. A list of about 20 unreleased songs got narrowed down to 10, with the album wrapped up just days before the big announcement.

It arrives so soon after its completion (and before physical copies could be an option) because May 28 happens to be Stewart's birthday.

Vibrato-voiced Stewart was one of the most gifted country singers of the 1970's. After a stint as a songwriter to the stars and the piano player in Charley Pride's band, Stewart secured his place in history with the 1975 album Out of Hand. No. 1 hit "She's Actin' Single (I'm Drinkin' Doubles)" helped Stewart's signature release gain high praise from rock and country critics alike.

Stewart committed suicide on December 16, 2003, just weeks after his wife of nearly 43 years, Mary Lou, passed away after a bout with pneumonia.

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Mike and The Moonpies covered Stewart's songs often while earning a reputation in clubs around Austin, Texas.

"Gary Stewart's the king of honky-tonk," Harmeier told The Dallas Observer in 2012. "The lifestyle and everything all rolled into one. We play 'Out of Hand' and usually close with 'Empty Glass.' Once I played a wedding with his band."

The album offers Stewart fans the chance to hear unearthed gems for the first time, while Mike and the Moonpies follow in their heroes' bootsteps by exposing younger listeners to top-notch honky-tonk songwriting.

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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Mike and The Moonpies Announce Surprise Album of Unrecorded Gary Stewart Songs