A night to remember with Michael Martin Murphey
My wife, Kenda, and I went to see one of her very favorite musicians, Michael Martin Murphey, in Red River, New Mexico, on her birthday last month. The concert, complete with an excellent chuckwagon supper, was at the incredibly beautiful Bitter Creek Ranch.
The tiny community in northern New Mexico is about six hours from Grand Junction, and any of the routes you choose to drive to get there are very scenic. Murphey told me it is the last true old Western resort town remaining in the West.
“A family friendly town with very few condos and no chains,” he told me.
Murphey was sitting at the merchandise table with his son, Brandon, writing out his set list when I asked him if he would sign his new CD for my wife if I bought it. He agreed as he wrote “Boy From the Country” on his set list. I told him I thought that was a great song and one of my favorites by him. I purchased his new CD and made arrangements with Murphey and his son to sell their music, which they now control, at Triple Play. I also mentioned to Murphey that my daughter Loryn’s first concert was to see him at The Rose, the former Grand Junction country bar, when she was 8 and her favorite song of his was “Lost River.”
“We are going to play that song tonight. Is she here?” he asked.
It began to rain and they decided to move the show into the tent, which didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of the roughly 100 people in attendance.
They opened the show with the wonderful “Lone Cowboy,” followed by “Lost River,” with Murphey relating that he used to come to Red River “right to this very lake you see behind us” with his parents as a young boy. That was the impetus for the song.
He then played the song “Crystal” from his 1982 release, “Michael Martin Murphey.” He said in early to mid 1970s he lived in a town in Colorado at the bottom of Schofield Pass, and that the town and the Crystal River that ran through were special and had made a lasting impression on his life. One of Murphey’s friends was standing behind us filming parts of the show and I told him that I had been to Crystal many times in the 1960s trailing and tending to my grandpa’s sheep. He said I was the only person besides Murphey he knew who had ever been there and suggested I relate my story to Murphey at the break. When I did, he asked me questions about my grandpa and his ranch.
He played “Carolina in the Pines” after the break, noting that he wrote it in Colorado. “It is easy to write songs there,” he said, adding that he didn’t understand Colorado’s decision to legalize marijuana because Colorado was the one state where you didn’t need any mind-altering substances.
That earned an ovation from the crowd.
At the end of the night Murphy personally wished Kenda a happy birthday, thanking us for coming to an incredible, intimate, emotion-filled, special concert.