MKT Bar: Tale of an Unexpected Hot Spot, Acts 3-4
Photos by Altamese Osborne
Katy (the server); our narrator
ACT 3, SCENE 1
Outside. 9:15 p.m. As we pass the lineup of chairs placed outside MKT's front doors, we realize: It's quiet. Too quiet.
The quiet doesn't stop once we get inside; there are only a few evening eaters, and the Christmas/Kwanzaa setup remains -- but there is no music. Are we too late?
9.16 p.m. Inside a nearly empty MKT Bar.
Katy: Hello again!
Rocks Off: Hi. Um, isn't there supposed to be a DJ here tonight.
Katy: Yes there was. They didn't show up!
Rocks Off: Oh!
Rocks Off:: See you tomorrow then.
Katy: Alrighty! See you tomorrow!
Out into the cold again.
Kristine Mills and Mike Owens
Kristine Mills; Mike Owens; waiters; bartender; Priscilla
ACT 4, SCENE 1
8:08 p.m. We're back at our first table, underneath the television, which we finally learn is tuned to TCM. Two other televisions play simultaneously in opposite corners; both show sports stations.
We arrive just to see a long-haired DJ walking out the door, and a sunny blonde taking his place onstage. A waiter rushes to her aid, providing a chair; she provides a guitar. Soon, she is joined by a gentlemen, also carrying a guitar.
8:31 p.m. We learn that the pretty woman in the flowing grey dress is Kristine Mills, one of our very own Houston Press Music Award winners (Best Female Vocalist in 2009; Best Songwriter in 2010).
The guitarist joining her is Mike Owens. Mills continues setting up, the Christmas/Kwanzaa stage now a pileup of songbooks, amps, Starbucks coffee cups and guitars. Owens strums out test chords, chords turn into progressions, progressions turn into a song.
Kristine Mills: Hi, I'm Kristine, and I'll be playing...
It's hard to hear her voice, thanks to the chattering of the "audience." Some people are talking. Some people eat. Some people look around, surveying the scene. Undeterred, Mills starts in, playing a series of folk songs, jazz standards and what she calls "Texas blues."
8: 35 p.m. Mills finishes her first song. Somewhere, someone claps, starting a wave of recognition. She has their attention.