Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Concert Review: James McMurtry at Lee's Palace

James McMurtry is surly, grumpy, and intense, which is why I love him and his music. He played to a criminally small crowd at Lee's Palace last Tuesday, July 13. When I arrived there were about 60 people in the audience, and by show time there were maybe 100 people. Not a great turnout for a place with a capacity of 500. Although there was a lot happening in Toronto that night, including an Old Crow Medicine Show gig at the Phoenix, which may have pulled some people from the McMurtry show.

If you went to something else instead of McMurtry's gig, it's your loss. The 48-year-old singer/songwriter/guitarist played songs from his entire catalog, but mostly focused on his most recent studio release Just Us Kids (2008). He gave a shout-out to his friends from Peterborough, Ontario, and dedicated his classic "Choctaw Bingo" to them. I loved watching the Peterborough contingent dance up a storm.

He played a new song which he described as "country music for KISS fans," and told the audience that where he grew up (in northern Virginia), no one listened to country music and "everyone listened to KISS." Then quipped, "They didn't listen to Ernest Tubb." McMurtry can see a phony a mile away.

He and his band, bassist Ronnie Johnson and drummer Daren Hess, played for nearly two hours. McMurtry did play a few songs solo with this guitar, but I was too dumb (drunk?) to write down which ones. Hell, I have a hard enough time keeping a set list! Regardless, McMurtry is a master storyteller with a commanding voice. He takes no shit, but doesn't dish it either. Just straight-up, no-nonsense country/rock music. Next time he's in town, more of you fuckers better show!

Set List
1. Bayou Tortous
2. Red Dress
3. Just Us Kids (live).mp3
Buy: Live in Europe (Bonus DVD, 2009)
4. Hurricane Party
5. You'd a Thought
6. Choctaw Bingo
7. Ruby and Carlos
8. Childish Things
9. Frauline O.
10. Restless (live).mp3
Buy: Live in Europe (Bonus DVD, 2009)
11. Freeway View
12. New Song???
13. Fire Line Road
14. No More Buffalo
15. Levelland
16. Too Long in the Wasteland

17. Lights of Cheyenne

I bought the Live in Europe album on eMusic, but it was highly recommend to me that I pick up the DVD. I've been told it's killer. Also, I don't know who runs the pre/post-show music at Lee's, but I greatly enjoyed hearing The Flying Burrito Brothers pre-show, and Uncle Tupelo post-show. Awesome.


SteveA said...

Sounds good. I've not heard of him before - sorry - I hope this does not come across as insulting, but I love your taste in music - it gives me new insights!

Rockstar Aimz said...

Of course that's not an insult. Thanks SteveA!

Truersound (AKA T-Sizound) said...

I still think the "country music for kiss fans" song was Lobo Town, which is off St. Mary. Great song. He played it here a few nights later, and he played the the previous year and introduced it the same way.

was it rockin' as fuck and start out with the line "Granddaddy's good name fit's like a shackle and a chain"?

Great write up

Adam said...

He's playing tonight in Lubbock, and my wife and I fear the same will happen: a woefully poor turn out. It's a benefit for MDA, which makes it double-excellent, but with the Zach Brown Band in town and an influx of Austinites snarling up the roads for the UT/Tech game, I worry that his show'll get lost in the shuffle.

Their loss, but he deserves a bigger turn-out.

dugg said...

This man is one of the best songwriters too many people have never heard!
He's written some of the best songs I've heard in the last 10 years...