James McMurtry and The Gourds at the Neptune Theater 9/18Posted by Chris Green
The Neptune theater is serving up a double-helping of Texas goodness this evening with two crowd-pleasing Austin-based acts. Singer/songwriter James McMurtry will be headlining. Mr McMurtry (son of Pulitzer+Oscar-winning novelist Larry McMurtry) has been honing his songwriting craft for over twenty years to widespread acclaim – horror writer Stephen King once praised him as “the truest, fiercest songwriter of his generation”. Even a quick sampling of his catalog shows that this isn’t just hype – his moving and literate songs demonstrate an amazing skill at painting vivid pictures and portraying emotional depth.
However, lyrical wordplay is far from the only talent that will be on display this evening. Whether on 12-string acoustic or electric, he’s an engaging guitarist. Though he sometimes plays as a solo performer, his Seattle show is with his stellar backing band The Heartless Bastards, so this will also be an evening of lively roots-tinged rock and roll.
Here he performs one of his justifiably most well-known songs, portraying a twisted family reunion that is likely to end with a bang:
Appearing with James McMurtry tonight are another popular Austin act, The Gourds. The Gourds are a talented foursome of multi-instrumentalists who play a ridiculous number of shows all over the country, yet seem to be having the time of their life at each and every one. Their mood must be infectious as they have a dedicated national fanbase and a live taping community that makes them one of the more prolific acts on archive.org. They keep their show fresh by eschewing a setlist and instead drawing on their nearly 20 years of recordings and going where their (and the audience’s) mood takes them. At any given moment, they may sound like a roadhouse rock band, a country act, or throw in a bit of bluegrass mandolin playing and a zydeco flavor via accordion.
They are also known for performing wild and unpredictable covers of songs both well-known and obscure. In a bit of bittersweet irony, they have one very well-known song that, due to mis-tagged files back in the Napster days, is often erroneously credited to everyone from the Dave Matthews Band to Phish. They don’t play their reinterpretation of Snoop Dogg‘s “Gin and Juice” very often (calling out for it is a sure way to annoy their fans) but when they do, it’s an epic extended jam with bits of any song that strikes their fancy.