From the editor’s desk for April 25, 2013

April 24, 2013 

You oughta know...

Whenever I hear the name McMurtry, I think of the tall, lanky pitcher Craig McMurtry who toiled with Atlanta Braves back in the bad old days of the ‘80s.

It’s also through following the Braves that I became aware of another McMurtry, this one of the Texas rock ‘n’ roll and Americana variety.

I’m an avid reader of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Braves blog helmed by beat writer David O’ Brien which used to be subtitled “Braves/Man in Black” in reverence to Johnny Cash, in which O’ Brien augments his (usually) pre-game coverage by mixing in postings of some Americana and alt-country lyrics and YouTube clips from the likes of Cash, Willie Nelson, Drive-by Truckers, Ryan Adams, Merle Haggard, Jason Isbell, John Prine and many more artists on the fringe that straddle the lines between rock, country and folk.

What’s not to like? America’s Pastime and Americana.

Often, he’s highlighted songs by Texas singer-songwriter James McMurtry…which made me think about that other McMurtry. But I streamed the clips of James McMurtry that O’ Brien posted and liked what I heard/saw.

Turns out he’s the son of an even more famous McMurtry, the novelist and screenplay writer known for the “Lonesome Dove” series (novels and TV miniseries), the screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain” and the novel-turned-flick “Terms of Endearment.”

So, much to my surprise and delight a few weeks ago when the Dead Dog Saloon on the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk announced that James McMurtry, whose record “Childish Things” won the Americana Music Association’s Album of the Year in 2006, would be coming there to perform.

I quickly enlisted our Music Notes columnist and cover story contributor Paul Grimshaw to see if he could track down McMurtry for an interview and scheduled it as a possible cover story profile.

Well the time for the gig is upon us – it’s Saturday night at the rebuilt Dead Dog – and Grimshaw did score that interview, so McMurtry is the subject of this week’s cover story. And the report also discusses the proliferation of Americana, which has been kind of building slowly, along the Grand Strand, and uncovers a connection McMurtry has to our South Strand area and the Pee Dee.

Why devote a cover story to an artist that’s not a household name - that probably the general populace in the Myrtle Beach area has never heard of?

Because that’s what we do – shine some light on a subject that needs more attention and let you know about something you could take advantage of before you can say, “damn, I wish I’d known about that.”

I also reached out to the aforementioned sports scribe O’ Brien to see if he’d help make the case for McMurtry and he was so kind to respond thusly via e-mail: “He's an absolutely brilliant, fearless songwriter, one whose body of work in the past two decades has few peers. The economy of words is remarkable. He writes so many powerful, descriptive details in a 3-4 minute song -- character sketches about folks in society's margins, people in relationships gone bad, frustrations with the way things are. And he delivers them with a menacing scowl that never comes across as anything but genuine. To top it off, he and his rockin' band are always tight. They always bring it live. They don't do half-ass shows.”

Kent Kimes, Editor

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