Rock & Pop, Seasonal Special Happenings

James McMurtry/Max Gomez

When: Wed., April 22, 8 p.m. 2015

Veteran singer-songwriter James McMurtry, who just issued Complicated Games, his first new studio album in five years, started playing cover tunes at a college hangout in Tucson. It was one of the first places that gave him a regular gig in the early ‘80s. At the time, he was a student at the University of Arizona. “They gave me ten bucks and free beer,” he says of the gig. “I thought that was a pretty good deal back then. I don’t think I was really writing yet. I wasn’t playing original material. I was trying to do the most obscure covers I could think of. You just had to do at least one Jimmy Buffett song to please the food and beverage manager to get the gig.” While Tucson had a cool indie rock scene back then and featured acts such as Giant Sand/Howe Gelb and Green on Red, that’s not the crowd that McMurtry hung with. Rather, he befriended the old-time bluegrass guys. Produced by John Mellencamp, his 1989 debut, Too Long in the Wasteland, couldn’t be classified as bluegrass, but it did have a certain twang to it. And it announced that McMurtry, the son of writer Larry McMurtry, had a good knack for words. His new album commences with the twangy “Copper Canteen,” a song about hunting season that features McMurtry’s signature sneer and a plodding drumbeat. It sets the tone for the album, yet another solid effort from McMurtry. (Niesel)

Price: $20

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