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James McMurtry brings his tough-luck, tough-stance songs to Boulder

Mike Cote //February 26, 2010//

James McMurtry brings his tough-luck, tough-stance songs to Boulder

Mike Cote //February 26, 2010//

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JAMES MCMURTRY Live in Europe (Lightning Rod)

Hands down, the most difficult interview I ever conducted with a musician was with James McMurtry several years ago in advance of a show he was going to play in Boulder. McMurtry is among the most literate songwriters in rock (not surprising, since his dad is novelist Larry McMurtry).

McMurtry was civil enough, but getting him to answer a question with more than a word or two and spark a conversation with him was futile. Lots of silence on that phone call.
No hard feelings, Mr. McMurtry. I’ll take the blame. Maybe you get tired of the same damn questions. We’d rather have you be a brilliant musician than a chatty chap.

The guitarist and singer returns to Boulder once again for a performance Saturday at the Boulder Theater. He’s touring to support his recent concert CD and DVD package, Live in Europe. As concert discs go, it’s fairly brief (42 minutes on the CD, nearly the same running time on the DVD but only two songs repeated.)

But fans of McMurtry’s tough luck, tough stance songs will find plenty of great moments on versions of “Just Us Kids” and “Hurricane Party” (on the CD) and “You’d a Thought (Leonard Cohen Must Die)” (which appears on both discs.) Guest artist Jon Dee Graham shares the spotlight with McMurty on “Laredo,” one of the DVD tracks – and gets to flip the bird to an Amsterdam critic who had just penned a negative review.

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PATTY GRIFFIN Downtown Church (Credential/EMI)

Patty Griffin’s last studio disc, Children Running Through, was one of the best discs of 2007, a songwriter tour-de-force with some killer songs, including a the tearjerker ballad “Trapeze” (with Emmylou Harris) and the heartfelt rocker “No Bad News.” On Downtown Church, Griffin embraces gospel on a collection of mostly cover songs.

Producer Buddy Miller put the focus on Griffin’s gorgeous voice on such sacred material “House of Gold,” “Wade in the Water” and “Virgen de Guadelupe.” Just to stir things up with the devil, Griffin also tackles “I Smell a Rat,” a Lieber and Stoller song most closely associated with blues belter Big Mama Thornton.

Griffin and Miller come to Denver on March 29 for a show at the Paramount Theater.

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SANTANA Supernatural: Legacy Edition (Arista/Legacy)

With 25 million copies sold worldwide over the past 10 years, Santana’s guest start team-up album was one of the last giant smashes before the music industry’s collapse. Buoyed by No. 1 singles “Smooth” (with Rob Thomas) and “Maria Maria” (with The Product G&B), you couldn’t travel too far during the album’s long ride without hearing the guitar virtuosity of Carlos Santana blasting out of somebody’s speakers.

This anniversary edition, featuring a remastered version of the original album, adds a second disc of remixes and outtakes, most notably “Rain Down on Me,” featuring Dave Matthews and his bandmate, drummer Carter Beauford; and “Angel Love (Come for Me),” a Santana band track that didn’t feature any superstar guests. Other odds and ends include the “Pumpin’ Dolls Club Mix” of “Maria, Maria.”

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