James McMurtry

This artist performed at the VFMF in 2018

James McMurtry (TX)

Singer-songwriter enthusiasts of the world, rejoice! James McMurtry is coming to town.

He’s been touring around America a lot this year, opening for Americana all-star Jason Isbell, who says McMurtry is one of his very few favourite songwriters on earth. Isbell goes on, “James 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.” “James writes like he’s lived a lifetime,” echoes iconic roots rocker John Mellencamp.

McMurtry spins stories with a poet’s pen and a painter’s precision. His vibrant vignettes and story songs have turned heads for a quarter century. And based on the universal acclaim for his latest release, “Complicated Game”, he’s clearly only improving with time.

Exhibit A: How’m I Gonna Find You Now. The record’s lead single boasts buoyant banjos and driving drums as endlessly energetic as anything electrified. Whiplash vocals further frenzy the beat. “I’ve got a cup of black coffee so I don’t get lazy/I’ve got a rattle in the dashboard driving me crazy,” McMurtry effectively raps. “If I hit it with my fist, it’ll quit for a little while/Gonna have to stop to smoke in another mile/Headed into town gonna meet you at the mercantile/Take you to the Sonic get you grinning like a crocodile.”

His immense catalogue includes a range of topics. In 2011, We Can’t Make It Here was cited among The Nation’s “Best Protest Songs Ever.” And Bob Lefsetz wrote, “it has stood the test of time because of its unmitigated truth.”

Based in Austin, 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.”