Sunday, April 2, 2017

James McMurtry at City Winery

In Fort Worth, Texas, novelist Larry McMurtry gave his seven-year-old son, James McMurtry, the boy's first guitar. The boy's mother taught him his first three chords; the rest he learned by ear or by watching other musicians. As a teenager in Leesburg, Virginia, he began writing and performing, a path that continued as a university student in Tucson, Arizona. After traveling to Alaska and playing a few gigs, he returned to Houston and then San Antonio, Texas, where he worked as a house painter, actor, bartender, and sometimes singer. In 1987 he was one of six winners in the Kerrville Folk Festival's New Folk songwriter contest, launching his professional aspirations. His ninth and most recent studio album is 2015's Complicated Game. McMurtry currently resides in Austin, Texas.

On this tour, James McMurtry performed solo rather than with a backing band. At City Winery tonight, this quieter approach accented his vocals, his guitar picking skills and especially his lyrics. Although many of his fans have touted him as a story teller, his lyrics actually were more akin to still photographs, painting a person or a scene with little movement. Many were observations, some leaned towards commentary, but they were all poignant, lengthy and visual. When McMurtry turned to his acoustic guitar and ripped a speedy solo, the listener was simultaneously mesmerized by his picking and the images incurred by the previous lyrics. His deep, relaxed singing made the stories all that much more authentic.

Visit James McMurtry at

  1. Melinda
  2. Saint Mary of the Woods
  3. Red Dress
  4. Copper Canteen
  5. You Got to Me
  6. Ain't Got a Place
  7. Choctaw Bingo
  8. Hurricane Party
  9. How'm I Gonna Find You Now
  10. Long Island Sound
  11. Levelland
  12. Carlisle's Haul
  13. Restless
  14. Lights of Cheyenne


  1. Peter Pan