‘Fiercest songwriter’ James McMurtry on a Sunday night

James McMurtry
James McMurtry performs in the Crystal Bay Casino on Sunday, June 16.

A month long celebration of Texas artists at the Crystal Bay Casino continues Sunday, June 16, when James McMurtry performs before  seated show in the Crown Room.

Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Steven King stated, The simple fact is that James McMurtry may be the trues, fiercest songwriter of his generation.”

According to his website, the son of acclaimed author Larry McMurtry, who wrote “Lonesome Dove” and “Terms of Endearment,”  James McMurtry grew up on a steady diet of Johnny Cash and Roy Acuff records. His first album,” Too Long in the Wasteland” (released in 1989), was produced by John Mellencamp and marked the beginning of a series of acclaimed projects for Columbia and Sugar Hill. In 1996, McMurtry received a Grammy nomination for his Longform Music Video of “Where’d You Hide The Body”. 1997’s” It Had To Happen” received the American Indie Award for Best Americana Album.

In 2004, McMurtry released the universally lauded “Live in Aught-Three” on Compadre Records. 2005’s” Childish Things” garnered some of the highest critical praise of McMurtry’s career and spent six weeks at No. 1 on the Americana Music Radio Chart in 2005 and 2006. In September 2006, “Childish Things” and “We Can’t Make It Here” won the Americana Music Awards for Album and Song of the Year, respectively. McMurtry received more Americana Music Award nominations for 2008’s “Just Us Kids.” The album marked his highest Billboard 200 chart position in more than 19 years.

In 2009, “Live in Europe” was released, capturing The McMurtry Band’s first European tour and extraordinary live set. Along with seasoned band members Ronnie Johnson, Daren Hess, and Tim Holt, the disc features special guests Ian McLagan and Jon Dee Graham. Also, for the first time ever, video of the James McMurtry Band’s live performance is available on the included DVD.

The poignant lyrics of his immense catalog still ring true today. In 2011, “We Can’t Make It Here” was cited among ‘The Nation’s’ “Best Protest Songs Ever.” Bob Lefsetz writes, “‘We Can’t Make It Here’ has stood the test of time because of its unmitigated truth.”

McMurtry continues to tour constantly, and consistently puts on a “must-see” powerhouse performance. ‘The Washington Post’ noted McMurtry’s live prowess: “Much attention is paid to James McMurtry’s lyrics, and rightfully so: He creates a novel’s worth of emotion and experience in four minutes of blisteringly stark couplets. What gets overlooked, however, is that he’s an accomplished rock guitar player. At a sold-out Birchmere, the Austin-based artist was joined by drummer Daren Hess and bassist Ronnie Johnson in a set that demonstrated the raw power of wince-inducing imagery propelled by electric guitar. It was serious stuff, imparted by a singularly serious band.”

James McMurtry

When: 9 p.m. Sunday, June 16

Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room

Tickets: $23 on the day of the show

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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