Logjam Presents

James McMurtry

Westbound & Down: Full-Band Summer Tour

Jonny Burke

Top Hat

Missoula, MT
Add to Calendar 07/29/2017 22:00 07/30/2017 01:00 America/Boise James McMurtry

Logjam Presents alt-country, singer-songwriter James McMurtry Westbound and Down: full-band summer tour live at The Top Hat on Saturday, July 29, 2017! Tickets are on sale now at The Top Hat, online or by phone at 877-987-6487. All tickets are general admission standing room only with limited bench seating available on a first come first served basis. For questions regarding… Continue Reading

Logjam Presents - Missoula, Montana false MM/DD/YYYY
9:00pm (door) 10:00pm (show)
$17 (Adv.) $20 (DOS) + applicable fees
Tickets (18+)

Logjam Presents alt-country, singer-songwriter James McMurtry Westbound and Down: full-band summer tour live at The Top Hat on Saturday, July 29, 2017!

Tickets are on sale now at The Top Hat, online or by phone at 877-987-6487. All tickets are general admission standing room only with limited bench seating available on a first come first served basis.

For questions regarding ticketing, please email boxoffice@tophatlounge.com

James McMurtry: Westbound and Down Summer Tour

James McMurtry’s forthcoming full-band Westbound and Down summer tour launches at Duling Hall in Jackson, Miss. on June 14 and routes throughout the region before concluding at The Top Hat in Missoula, Mont. on July 29. Major markets on this run include shows at legendary listening rooms 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville, Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, Ga., and the Vanguard in Tulsa, Okla. “We’re looking forward to playing some rooms we haven’t seen in a while,” says McMurtry, who’s been touring abroad recently. “I sure missed the States.”

The famously political songwriter has been keeping a close eye on the troubled Trump administration since returning home. “A few years back, I put out a song called ‘Cheney’s Toy,’” McMurtry says. “It was often misinterpreted due to a reference to an unknown soldier. People thought I was calling the soldier ‘Cheney’s Toy’ when I actually was referring to then-President George W. Bush. It seemed to me that Cheney was the puppeteer in that administration, while Bush was the puppet, the toy. At shows during my current tour of the U.K. and Europe, people have called out for me to sing ‘Bannon’s Toy.’”

The longtime Austin resident continues riding waves of universal acclaim for his latest offering, Complicated Game. “McMurtry’s unassuming vocal style and stage presence bring to the foreground the voices populating his songs,” the New York Times magazine said, singling out “Copper Canteen” in its recent piece “25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going.” “McMurtry writes as though he has spent time eavesdropping on conversations in every Dairy Queen in America.” “At a stage where most veteran musicians fall into a groove or rut, McMurtry continues to surprise,” Texas Music magazine echoes. “[Complicated Game] is a collection of narratives as sharply observed as any from McMurtry, but with a contemplative depth that comes with maturity.”

Indeed, the release spotlights a craftsman in absolutely peak form as he turns from political toward personal (“These Things I’ve Come to Know,” “You Got to Me”). “The lyrical theme is mostly about relationships,” the longtime Austin resident says. “It’s also a little about the big old world verses the poor little farmer or fisherman.” Either way, McMurtry spins his stories with a poet’s pen (“Long Island Sound”) and a painter’s precision (“She Loves Me”) throughout.

Folks noticed Complicated Game delivering McMurtry’s trademark story songs time and again (“Copper Canteen,” “Deaver’s Crossing”). “[McMurtry] takes listeners on a road trip of unprecedented geographic and emotional scope,” No Depression raved of the record. “Lyrically, the album is wise and adventurous, with McMurtry — who’s not prone to autobiographical tales — credibly inhabiting characters from all walks of life.” “[McMurtry] fuses wry, literate observations about the world with the snarl of barroom rock,” National Public Radio echoed. “The result is at times sardonic, subversive and funny, but often vulnerable and always poignant.” “They took their time with this one,” Texas Music magazine noted, “and it was well worth it. He’s always been wise beyond his age, but middle age suits him well.”

Just Us Kids (2008) earned McMurtry his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched Americana Music Award nominations. Meanwhile, Childish Things (2005) scored endless critical praise and spent six full weeks topping the Americana Music Radio chart in 2005 and 2006. In 2006, Childish Things won the Americana Music Association’s Album of the Year and “We Can’t Make It Here” was named the rapidly rising organization’s Song of the Year.

Of course, Complicated Game doubled down on the literate storytelling longtime enthusiasts expect. Recall high watermarks past: “Childish Things,” “Choctaw Bingo,” “Peter Pan,” “Levelland,” and “Out Here in the Middle” only begin the list. (Yes, Robert Earl Keen covered those last two, “Levelland” remaining a live staple.) Just Us Kids alone includes fan favorites “Hurricane Party,” “Ruby and Carlos” and “You’d a Thought.”

More history: McMurtry’s critically lauded first album Too Long in the Wasteland (1989) was produced by John Mellencamp and marked the beginning of a series of acclaimed projects for Columbia and Sugar Hill Records. In 1996, McMurtry received a Grammy nomination for Long Form Music Video for Where’d You Hide the Body. Additionally, It Had To Happen (1997) received the American Indie Award for Best Americana Album.

In 2004, McMurtry released the universally lauded Live in Aught-Three on Compadre Records. The following year, Childish Things notched notched arguably his most critical praise, spending 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 nearly two decades.

In 2009, Live in Europe captured 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 (The Faces) and Jon Dee Graham (True Believers, Skunks). Also, for the first time ever, video of the James McMurtry Band’s live performance is available on the included DVD.

The poignant lyrics of his immense catalog still ring true today. In 2011, “We Can’t Make It Here” was cited among The Nation’s “Best Protest Songs Ever.” “‘We Can’t Make It Here,’” Bob Lefsetz wrote, “has stood the test of time because of its unmitigated truth.”

McMurtry tours year round and consistently throws down unparalleled powerhouse performances. The Washington Post notes: “Much attention is paid to James McMurtry’s lyrics and rightfully so: He creates a novel’s worth of emotion and experience in four minutes of blisteringly stark couplets. What gets overlooked, however, is that he’s an accomplished rock guitar player … serious stuff, imparted by a singularly serious band.”

Longtime fans know the artist’s vibrant vignettes have turned heads for a quarter century now. “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. “He has that rare gift of being able to make a listener laugh out loud at one line and choke up at the next. I don’t think anybody writes better lyrics.”

As L.A. Weekly Music Editor Andy Hermann noted in a Nov. 15, 2016 story about the songwriter, “Like a lot of people who didn’t want Donald Trump as their president, I’ve been leaning on music to help get me through this past week … sometimes, when it’s really good, it can help you make sense of what seems incomprehensible. That’s why lately I’ve been listening to a lot of James McMurtry.”

Westbound & Down: Full-Band Summer Tour

Jonny Burke

Jonny Burke Image

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 Aquariums’ Ryan Johnson and Whit Wright, who co-produced. Its 10 songs deliver food for thought about some weighty topics, such as aging, mortality and loss—including the death of dreams. With only three decades on the planet, it might seem early for Burke to delve into such subjects—despite his advanced field studies. But his applied learning actually started in his single-digit years, when he started to discover poets and pickers whose songs weren’t on most kids’ mixtapes.

“Chuck Berry’s songs spoke to me as a child and raised my consciousness to a greater level. As did Hank Williams’ songs. And John Prine’s,” Burke says. “I realized at a very young age that songs are a greatmedium for a story.” He set his sights on writing his own, and has proven remarkably good at it. In the standout tune “Worlds On Fire,” Burke guides the youthful hopes of a daydream boy and a calico girl toward a place where“Jack and Diane” meet “The River.” Over his gorgeous acoustic strumming, he sings, I fell asleep to the TV/I don’t see much reality/Rich girls talkin’ all ’bout themselves/You work at Walmart stocking shelves/Ain’t got two dimes to rub together/We used to say this ain’t forever.”

“I got to know the couple in the song,” Burke says. “I felt like I had birthed these two characters. I love ‘em. They’re from my generation and they belong to a group that doesn’t get an honest portrayal in mainstream America. They know they face a hopeless future, but have not lost their ability to love.” Another acoustic ballad, “Funerals and Weddings,” addresses “heartbreak and loss and what a grim state of affairs we live and die in.” Among its devastatingly piercing lyrics is this couplet: At the end of the day you’re either winning or you’re settling/Everybody dresses up at funerals and weddings.

“The state I was in at the time—drunk and heartbroken—helped me to remain sincere about what I was trying to convey,” Burke explains. “Sincerity,” he adds, “goes a long way in the book of song.” Yes it does. But what sets Burke apart as a songwriter—and performer—is that combination of empathy and admiration for his characters. He doesn’t just observe their lives; he steps inside them—and looks beyond their conflicts to find connections.

“I love songs that tell a story that transcends right and wrong, black and white, heaven and hell,” he says. “By creating these pairs of opposites in our everyday lives, we limit how much of what’s going on around us really engages our senses.” But even though he takes his craft seriously, Burke also knows the value of levity, as on the Stonesy country-blues picker “Sweeter Than You.”

“I wanted to write a real country song with the concept that everything sucks except for my sweetheart,” he says. “‘What’s wrong in the world?’ ‘Everything.’ ‘Who do you love?’ ‘You, baby.’ It’s like a cynic’s love song. Or a realist’s love song, depending on your view.”

With “Rent’s Gettin’ Bigger,” he recalls the days when he and his friends taught themselves to play by mimicking their favorite artists, then formed bands together. “I wrote this about the guys I grew up playing with,” Burke says. “It’s a bit nostalgic in a ‘rock ‘n’ roll will never die’ way, and was fun to write because it naturally lent itself to dropping in subtle references to the MC5 and the Velvet Underground and Neil Young. It gives me comfort to think that right now, there’s some kids in a band somewhere covering ‘Tonight’s the Night’ and hoping they’ll get laid. That was us.”

On another standout, “Where’d the Time All Go,” he sounds as if he graduated with honors from the Todd Snider School of Wry Self-Deprecation, where he also might have learned a thing or two about spinning truths into yarns—and vice versa. This song finds him going from a compromising situation with a politician’s daughter to getting lost—and found—in city streets and country towns. “As a singer of folk songs, it’s gonna be a rough four years if every time some politician does some dumbass shit I have to sing about it,” Burke says, laughing. “I’d rather sing about partying with their hot daughters.” But the song also touches on “growing up and suddenly realizing you’re not the youngest boxer in the ring anymore.”

Of the gentle closer “Old Time Feeling (Like Before),” written with Evan Felker and R.C. Edwards of the Turnpike Troubadours, Burke says, “The three of us write about drunken songwriters and failed relationships a lot. That being said, we try our best to keep those songs from being bad clichés.” No worries there.

It’s a beautiful end to an album filled with charm—and one other potent element: Burke’s enduring belief in the life-transforming power of a single song. Even if that transformation ends when the song does, it can happen again—each time someone listens, or flips through a someday songbook and reads a few lyrics. Maybe they’ll look to see who wrote them, and notice a name hanging in the corner. Without an H.