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Mike Hall writes about criminals, musicians, the law, and barbecue. Mike graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1979 with a degree in government. He wrote for various publications, including Trouser Press, Third Coast Magazine, the Austin American-Statesman, and the Austin Chronicle. In 1997, he joined Texas Monthly, where he has won two Texas Gavel Awards from the State Bar of Texas and four Stephen Philbin Awards from the Dallas Bar Association. He was named Writer of the Year at the City and Regional Magazine Awards in 2015. His stories have appeared in The Best American Magazine Writing, The Best American Sports Writing, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Da Capo’s Best Music Writing, the New York Times, and Men’s Journal. Mike is also a musician and has played in Austin bands the Wild Seeds, the Setters, the Lollygaggers, and the Savage Trip. He pitches for the Burkas, the Texas Monthly softball team.

292 Articles

True Crime|
January 21, 2013

Who Killed Mary Eula Sears?

In 1982 a man named Wayne East was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of one of Abilene’s most prominent citizens. To this day, he maintains his innocence. And one member of the victim’s family believes him.

Sports|
January 20, 2013

Lance Armstrong Has Something to Get Off His Chest

As he readies himself for this summer's Tour de France, the two-time winner is battling allegations in Europe and elsewhere that he uses performance-enhancing drugs. He insists he is clean. But proving that is turning out to be one of his toughest challenges yet. He doesn't use performance-enhancing drugs, he

Music|
January 20, 2013

Three Chords and A Station Wagon

In the years before anyone had heard of Woodstock or Altamont, teenagers across Texas started bands in their parents’ garages, banging out earnest rock songs on cheap equipment and hoping to hit it big at the local skating rink or VFW post. For some, those dreams won’t fade away.

News & Politics|
January 20, 2013

The Exonerated

Thirty-seven men, 525 years behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit. Thanks to DNA testing, their claims of innocence have finally been proved—but what happens to them now?

News & Politics|
January 20, 2013

Separated At Death

Ernest Willis spent seventeen years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit. And he has a few things to say about the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 for a strangely similar crime that many experts believe he didn’t commit either.

True Crime|
January 20, 2013

Weird Science

As the peculiar case of a Fort Bend sheriff’s deputy and his bloodhounds makes clear, the techniques of crime-scene investigation are not as infallible as the TV shows would have us believe. How a misplaced faith in some forensic experts is putting innocent people behind bars.

Music|
January 20, 2013

Birthplaces of the Blues

Want to see the Texas of Leadbelly, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mance Lipscomb, and other pioneering musicians of the twentieth century? Your trip through time begins near Washington-on-the-Brazos.

Feature|
January 20, 2013

About a Boy

The short life and tragic death of Johnny Romano, the youngest professional skateboarder ever.

Music|
January 20, 2013

Home Girl

Most people from Dallas who make it big in the music business get out of town as soon as they can. “That’s what celebrities do,” Erykah Badu says. “I never wanted to be a celebrity.”

Music|
January 20, 2013

Viva Fort Hood

Before Elvis Presley became an overweight entertainer in a rhinestone jumpsuit, there was a brief, more innocent time when he wore khakis as an Army private in Central Texas. It was his last chance to be a normal human being. And to be happy.

Feature|
January 20, 2013

The Judgment of Sharon Keller

Her decision to close the door on a death row inmate’s final plea has earned the state’s top criminal judge lasting infamy and a misconduct investigation that goes to trial this month. But was she wrong?

Music|
January 20, 2013

It’s a Family Affair

For all her talent and poise, Beyoncé didn't become the biggest star in the world without help. And she got plenty of it from the people who know her best.

The Culture|
January 20, 2013

The Fabric of Our Lives

I know her as my mother, whose womb I emerged from more than fifty years ago. They—the million or so quilting fanatics, mostly women, who spend hours a day with needle, thread, fabric, and sewing machine—know her as a celebrity. She can’t believe it either.

Sports|
January 20, 2013

EEEEEEAAAAOOOOWWW!!!

On November 5, 181,500 people crowded into a former cow pasture north of Fort Worth to watch 43 race cars drive really, really fast for five hundred miles. That day, the Texas Motor Speedway would be, measured by population, one of the largest cities in the state. Welcome to NASCAR,

Food & Drink|
January 20, 2013

Pit Stops

Where are the best places to eat barbecue in Texas? Six years ago we published a highly subjective—and hotly debated— list of our fifty favorite joints, and now we’ve gone back for seconds. Ten intrepid souls drove more than 21,000 miles in search of 2003’s worthiest ‘cue. Here’s what they

Music|
January 20, 2013

The Ballad of Billy Joe Shaver

If the Corsicana native is the best songwriter in Texas, perhaps it's because he knows his material. Hardscrabble upbringing. Sinful behavior. Redemption. Personal tragedy. Profound sorrow. And, finally, more redemption.

Music|
January 20, 2013

Music Clubs

Old country and western in Mingus, zippy zydeco in Bridge City: The shows always go on at these ten tuneful spots.

Law|
January 20, 2013

Death Isn’t Fair

Cops who threaten torture. Prosecutors who go too far. Defense lawyers who sleep on the job. And an appellate court that rubber-stamps it all. Let’s be tough on crime, but let’s also see that justice is done.

Art|
July 31, 2012

Willie Nelson Statue, Austin

Washington, D.C., has Abraham Lincoln, Salt Lake City has Brigham Young, Philadelphia has Rocky Balboa. And now Austin has Willie. The massive bronze sculpture, which was commissioned by a local group called Capital Area Statues, rests downtown at the corner of Willie Nelson Boulevard (formerly Second Street) and Lavaca outside the new studios of Austin City

Web Exclusive|
March 31, 2012

Justice in Time

Fifteen years after being released from death row, Kerry Max Cook is still looking for freedom.

Web Exclusive|
December 1, 2011

Unsolved Mystery

It has been twenty years since four teenage girls were murdered in a north Austin yogurt shop—and still no answers.

Feature|
May 31, 2011

Falling Comet

In 1955 Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock” transformed the sound of popular music and made him an international star. Twenty-five years later he was forgotten, desperate, and dying in Harlingen. How did one of the fathers of rock and roll land so far outside the spotlight?

Music|
April 30, 2011

Psychedelic Summit

Fifty-eight bands from around the world play Austin Psych Fest 4 April 29–May 1. Michael Hall sits down with the Black Angels, founders of the festival (and the “Reverberation Appreciation Society”) and rejuvenated psychedelic godfather Roky Erickson.

Music|
December 1, 2010

The Soul of a Man

For nearly sixty years, a succession of obsessed blues and gospel fans have trekked across Texas, trying to unearth the story of one of the greatest, and most mysterious, musicians of the twentieth century. But the more they find, the less they seem to know.

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