Its fun to hear a guy whos been around the block as many times as Michael Martin Murphey get revved up to play a 200-seat gig.
I was born in the wrong era Im a throwback and thats why I love Durango, and the Strater is just a gem, the Texas resident said by phone earlier this week from his getaway cabin in Colorado.
Ive been wanting to play a concert right in the heart of Durango again for a while.
Murphey is one of the most revered Texas-Cowboy musicians of his era, making his name during the Outlaw Country movement of the early 1970s with the Willie Nelson-Jerry Jeff Walker crowd. A career strewn with gold records ensued, including the 1975 hit Wildfire that took care of the bills for more than a few decades. Now, Murphey can pick and choose where he plays and local audiences should be glad hes got a friend in town.
Local musician Mark Epstein, most recently of Badly Bent fame, met Murphey a couple of years ago in Boise through a mutual friend and has played with him on several occasions since. At the most recent one this summer, a private function for a local land trust, Epstein asked Murphey if hed help out with a fundraiser for Mountain Middle School, of which Epstein is a founding board member. Thats why Murphey will be in town Sunday.
He said sure and wed figure out a time, and he had a show in Moab Saturday so here we are, Epstein said. Hes a great guy and its just as exciting that Pat Flynn is playing my jaw was on the ground the first time I got to see him up close.
Flynn is the guitarist one of the best in the world for Murpheys Rio Grande Band, and the outfit will play two shows in support of the startup school that just opened its doors to students this fall. And once again, Epstein gets to sit in on banjo.
Its the kind of thing Im all for, Murphey said of the school, and added a compliment to his local host.
I dont think a lot of people there really know what a great banjo player Mark is, he said.
Murpheys latest release, Tall Grass & Clear Water is a compilation continuing two of his musical series; its Vol. 6 in his Cowboy Songs and Buckaroo Blugrass album No. 3. Its a record that couldve been custom-tailored for Southwest Colorado.
Its about the country I lived in all my life; the wide open prairies of Texas and Kansas and the mountains of the West are my stomping grounds, Murphey said.
Its about the basic bones of our culture land and water and this tells that story from the prism of one whos lived it. Every song relates to the mountains, prairies or in between. Its the story of why the West is as it is.