James McMurtry to headline Savor the Summit after party
June 18, 2013
Due to noise ordinances, Savor the Summit, which will take place on Main Street this Saturday, must end its outdoor dining and live music festivities at 10 p.m.
However, that doesn’t mean the party has to end, said the event’s producer, Ginger Ries, executive director of the Park City Area Restaurant Association.
"We know there will be those souls who don’t want to go home just yet," Ries told The Park Record. "So, we’re working with Mountain Town Music to present an after-party concert at Park City Live."
Acclaimed singer and songwriter James McMurtry will headline the show, which begins at 9:30 p.m. Park City Live, located at 427 Main St., will open its doors at 8:30 p.m.
McMurtry called The Park Record from his touring van somewhere near Santa Cruz, Calif., to say he is looking forward to playing some old and new songs in Park City.
"I usually lay out a set and it’s more about what I want and how the music flows," McMurtry said. "We can’t really do requests on the spur of the moment, because that upsets the flow of the set. So, we try to include enough of the songs you know people want to hear, because that ups the energy and you can feed off that.
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"At the same time, we try to introduce new material to put some miles on those songs," he said.
So far, that has worked for the veteran road warrior who started his music career in the late 1980s.
"It also seems like every night we play for some people who haven’t heard us before, so that’s good," he said. "In some markets our popularity is growing, and that may be due to word-of-mouth. But we’re doing better than a few years ago when we couldn’t draw any type of interest."
McMurtry originally wanted to be a songwriter in Nashville, but life had other plans.
"I wanted to be a staff writer and pitch songs to country artists," he said. "I knew people who did that, and I thought I could kind of work my way into it.
"I didn’t expect to have my own record deal, but that came about, before I even left my home," he said.
Grammy Award-winning singer John Mellencamp hired McMurtry’s father, Larry, to write a screenplay.
"I gave my dad a tape, hoping John would want to cut one of my songs, so I could rent an apartment when I got to Nashville," McMurtry remembered. "John called me up and asked if I wanted to make a record."
The request took the songwriter by surprise.
"I said ‘Yes,’ even though I didn’t have enough songs at the time," he said. "I had to hustle to get them done.
"I didn’t know if I was ready or not, but I didn’t want to look back 10 years later and say to myself, ‘I wish I would have done that,’" McMurtry said. "So, that’s how it all happened. I just kind of slid into it."
Still, playing music had always been a secret desire for McMurtry.
"I was a big Johnny Cash fan when I was a kid, and I got into music because I wanted to be him, I guess," he said with a laugh. "I knew I couldn’t quite do what he did, but I knew I could do something similar. and to tell you the truth, I did it because I just wanted women to talk to me, you know. I knew I wouldn’t make the football team, so music was my best shot."
After more than 15 years in the business, McMurtry said the biggest challenge for him is financial.
"We don’t have the mailbox money — songwriter royalties and artist royalties — that we used to have," he said. "Those things are down due to the lack of sales of hard product, mostly.
McMurtry still sells a certain amount of CDs, but said those sales don’t come close to how many were sold in 2005 and 2006.
"That’s when the Internet hit the music business and things started going sour," he said. "So, to make up for that, we have to do more on the road than we used to, and we have to keep it pretty lean.
"We ride in a van and all share hotel rooms, because that’s a major expense," McMurtry said. "However, we play better for it."
When McMurtry is on tour, he doesn’t worry too much about writing new material for upcoming releases.
"I don’t usually do that unless I’m in the process of making a record," he said. "I just book the studio time and then scramble to get the songs together."
Things have changed this time around, and that’s due to McMurtry’s new producer C.C. Adcock who tweaked the knobs on the Grammy Award-nominated albums "Grand Isle" by Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, and Doyle Brahmall’s "It Is News."
"C.C. wants people to know the songs before they go into the studio, and that’s good, because it’s less expensive that way," McMurtry said. "You’re not in the studio arranging the songs and not reading lyrics off the sheet. So, for the past three years, I’ve been working on some new stuff."
That doesn’t mean McMurtry knows when his new CD will be released.
"I learned about that kind of thing early on in my career when I did record for Columbia Records in the 1990s," he said. "The company shelved it for two years. So, you never know."
In the meantime, McMurtry continues to tour and play gigs.
"It’s holding pretty steady, but we need to turn a corner because I don’t think we can maintain the way we’re going for very long," he said. "But like I said, we’re picking up in some markets, so you never know."
James McMurtry will perform a free Savor the Summit after-party at Park City Live, 427 Main St. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. The music will begin at 9:30 p.m. Admission is free. VIP tickets are available for $15 at http://www.parkcitylive.net . For more information, visit http://www.mountaintownmusic.org.