JONNY BURKE WILL OPEN THE SHOW! The son of acclaimed author Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment), James 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. This 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.
His latest effort, 2015's Complicated Game delivers McMurtry’s trademark story songs time and again, but the record brings a new (and certainly no less energetic) sonic approach. First, recall blistering beats and gnashing guitars from his magnum opus Just Us Kids (2008). Now, unplug. “The label head wanted more acoustic,” McMurtry explains. “We built everything as we went so we ended up with more acoustic guitar as we went. We just played whatever sounded right for a given song, but we weren’t necessarily saying this is an acoustic record.” Such vibrant vignettes consistently turn heads. They have for a quarter century now. Clearly, he’s only improving with time. “James McMurtry is one of my very few favorite songwriters on Earth and these days he's working at the top of his game,” says Americana all-star Jason Isbell.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 8:00pm
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Jonny Burke is one H shy of sharing a name with the lyricist behind “Pennies from Heaven,” “Misty” and other Great American Songbook entries. But when it comes to what might someday be called the Great Americana Songbook, he won’t have to worry about ID mix-ups. Burke’s work is as distinctive as the landscape of the Texas Hill Country where he was raised. It would be a mistake, however, to assume the geography of his upbringing automatically puts his music into college-country/red-dirt territory. His latest album, Along Alone Alright, on his own Dream Car Records label, stakes out turf in a wide-open space where artists freely mix folk and blues with a pinch of country twang, a dose of rock swagger and a whole lot of heart. Burke’s been stirring those elements together since he and a childhood pal started the Dedringers when they were 15. Quickly making a name for themselves, they wound up spending seven years studying the human condition in the anthropology-lab bars of Texas, and well beyond. After their amiable 2009 split, Burke moved to a friend’s guesthouse in Topanga Canyon, California. He stayed three years, exploring the L.A. music scene in-between tours with artists like James McMurtry and Ryan Bingham. The weather and surf were powerful attractions, but like most Texans, he was finally lured back—though he managed to perform in all 48 contiguous states before he turned 30. In 2016, he headed to Durham, North Carolina, to record Along Alone Alright, his third full-length album, with American Aquarium's’s Ryan Johnson and Whit Wright, who co-produced.