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Yesterday at NX35: James McMurtry at Dan's Silverleaf

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BAND: James McMurtry
VENUE: Dan's Silverleaf
TIME: 11:30 p.m.

James McMurtry's sound is liquid nicotine, and it was chain-smoked by last night's crowd at Dan's Silverleaf, as the house swirled around his fingers with each intoxicating rift. Stoic cowboys, bearded locals and sports fans all got down to this rootsy-bluesy, heel-stompin' stuff.

But McMurtry has mastered the pen as well as the pick. His lyrics ring with thoughtful reminiscence, looking down on the "damn short movie" of his sprawling youth from the hill of middle age: Just us kids hanging out today / Watching our long hair turnin' grey
Not so skinny maybe not so free / Not as many as we used to be.

The nostalgia comes through in McMurtry's musical styling as well, wrangling in the best of the good-old era. He's a less-exclusive Dylan. His four-guitar arsenal and backing band (Ronnie Johnson on bass, Daren Hess on drums) create "The McMurtry Experience" in the mode of Hendrix.

"Choctaw Bingo" was a lyrical mishmash pounded out to the beat of The Beatles' "Come Together". But the sound is still distinctly Texan, and his local fan-base reveled in the musical retelling of a shared saga. 

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