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Story and photos by Jennifer BronenkantIt's been six long years since James McMurtry released Just Us Kids. This master songwriter is now promising a new studio album will be finally be released this Fall.
McMurtry introduced some of his new music to the early show crowd at City Winery Chicago. He played a double header that night with the first show at 5:00 pm which is probably a painfully early hour for this night owl to play. His regular standing Austin gig is the midnight show at the Continental Club on most Wednesdays of the year.
The set started out with old favorites like "Down Across the Delaware," "Red Dress" and "Hurricane Party." McMurtry tried in vain to get the crowd on their feet dancing with "Choctaw Bingo." Not that the crowd was unappreciative of the performance, to the contrary, but it was a tad early for dancing and this tabled venue is not really cut out for it either.
He "experimented," as he called it, on the audience with some newer songs that although he has been playing them in live shows, have not been released as recordings yet. Starting with "Copper Canteen" a story of an unhappy couple that fits in well with McMurtry's best writing of the past.
The newer songs seemed to bring an extra boost of energy to the performance as the stoic performer seemed to show slightly more pleasure in singing less familiar lines. Other new songs were "Long Island Sound" and "These Things I've Come To Know." Even his classic "Choctaw Bingo" included a new verse.
At the end of the show, McMurtry returned to the stage for a extended three song encore after being told backstage that his show had run "way short." He commented that maybe he just must play things faster this early in the day. Maybe... but early or not he still delivered and led the audience on wonderful journey through the stories he tells in his songs.
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