FRI., NOV. 11, 2005
It says a lot that on a Friday night when you could be out trying to get laid you’re at the Continental Club watching James McMurtry. Sure, you could be dirty dancing at some theme club down on Sixth Street, poppin’ that ass, throwing back Jello shots, getting your mack on…because yeah, you occasionally roll like that, but sometimes you also like to peel back the skin from the onion that is you and reveal a deeper, intellectual layer, that smirking bastard spawn of erudition and irony who appreciates a well turned phrase nearly as much as the lure of tawdry disco sex. In fact, if you could figure out a way to sell the sizzle of that whole “interesting person” steak you’ve been cooking up, you might just find yourself swimming in sex, but be forewarned that most of your thoughtful, bookish types – let’s call them “readers” – generally have to be led by the hand to the dark, dense delta of the promised land. This is not to say that it’s absolutely impossible to find hot sex at a James McMurtry show. Weirder shit has happened, but you may have to massage your definition of “hot” a bit. Probably wouldn’t kill you to do that anyway, would it? Here’s the thing: You may not share bodily fluids with any of the people at the Continental Club Friday, but by the end of the night you will share the common belief that James McMurtry is one of the finest songwriters to ever stumble into this burg. Sure, he’s got pedigree, but he also has the decency to not waste it. If anything, James’ songs pack as much meaning into a few verses as the several hundred page tomes of his father. There is refinement at work here; evolution. Even still, the younger McMurtry won’t be trumping the elder with sales records anytime soon. Dense as they may be, McMurtry’s lyric laden songs still clock in several minutes longer than commercial radio’s attention deficit 3 minute pop song format. They’re packed with carefully observed details of the commonplace ingeniously woven through with larger themes – the kind of stuff that rolls around in your head for years and pays you unexpected visits like acid flashbacks. Can you dance to them? Yeah, maybe. James has a thunderous, ass kicking rhythm section (Ronnie Johnson and Darren Hess, a.k.a. the “Heartless Bastards”) and has some impressive guitar chops his own self, but more than likely you’ll be too frozen in slack-jawed awe to bust a move. That’s all right. You can impress the hotties some other night. Maybe you can live with not getting laid. Maybe sometimes it’s enough just to have your mind blown.