Milligan’s Island

A resonant tenor and a barking delivery set Austin’s Malford Milligan apart from other soul singers—and that’s not the only thing.

WHEN MALFORD MILLIGAN takes the stage with his band, Storyville, at the Austin barbecue joint Stubb’s, his blond hair is parted and combed in a jagged sort of pompadour. But as he sings, twirls, and sweats, the hair stands straight out from his cowlick, his temples, and the back of his head—it soon looks like an electrocuted mop. He wears a loose black silk shirt buttoned at the throat, and his complexion suggests what Procol Harum had in mind with the turn of phrase “a whiter shade of pale.” Milligan is a blue-eyed black albino, which in the segregation of his youth in Texas left him feeling like a freak of nature, an outcast in both the worlds he was born into. And yet today, the 38-year-old may be the next great soul singer.

Milligan is still learning, but his tenor resonance and barking delivery invite comparisons with Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, and when he’s onstage, you can’t take your eyes off him. He’s six feet two and has thick shoulders, long arms, and large hands. He bounces on the heels of his patent-leather brogans, makes a tent of his

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