On the Scene: At the Michael Martin Murphey concert

Michael Martin Murphey is a cowboy, a singing cowboy of the finest order.

I first saw him perform at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 1988. He did his own thing onstage then joined Riders in the Sky for a few numbers.

I love Ranger Doug, Woody Paul and Too Slim, but they aren’t real cowboys. Murph, as Robin Beville used to call him, is a real cowboy.

I caught up with Murphey at sound check last Friday as he was preparing to play the Recital Hall in the Moss Performing Arts Center at Colorado Mesa University. Waiting onstage with the Snob Production sound guys, Michael Weakley and Colin Keefe, so I could snap a photo and get the heck out of their way, we heard that distinctive clippity-clop sound of cowboy boots. I said, “Here he comes, I can hear his boots!” before he came around the curtain.

“I can’t sneak up on anybody anymore,” Murphey replied.

As the boys lined up for a picture I mentioned that they looked like his bodyguards. They all liked that, and I got a giggle for the photo.

Needing to kill an hour, I met my sister Becky and some of her friends at Wrigley Field for the free taco bar. It’s a great place for Happy Hour.

As I headed back into the Moss Performing Arts Center, ticket-holders were beginning to arrive. I saw a few familiar faces but not that many. (The Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra was using the center’s rehearsal room that night and that bunch is unmistakable because they all carry peculiar-shaped black cases.)

Kay Simons and Patty Perrott had just arrived. I asked if this was the first time they had seen Murphey and Kay said definitely not. She and her husband used to see him at West Fest, the festival Murphey used to put on at Copper Mountain. Kay and Patty ride horses together at the Gary Day Stables on H Road. They ride every day when the ground isn’t frozen, which means they haven’t ridden for a while.

Next came two handsome cowboys, Andrew Gustafson and his friend Rick Dunn. Andrew pretty much grew up seeing Murphey in concert. Andrew’s dad is Kirk Gustafson, the conductor of the symphony with which Murphey has performed several times. Rick’s wife is a friend of Andrew’s mother, Kit.

It was nice to see some choice of libation at this event since it was Friday afternoon and, for those who belong to that club, there was wine from Two Rivers Chateau and Winery. Kelsie Leitner and Trey Davis were there to serve.

Karen Murphey, the pretty wife of the star, was behind a table selling CDs. She also tended an embellished guitar. She explained that the instrument is a traveling silent auction item, the proceeds from which will eventually go to the Fiona Rose Murphey Foundation.

Fiona is the Murpheys’ 13-year-old granddaughter who lives with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or Brittle Bone Disease. You can read about her at michaelmartinmurphey.com.

It was getting close to showtime and I saw several fun-looking couples come in: Melanie and Tony Matarozzo and Clint and Anita Dennison. Both couples are from Collbran. Tony claims to be part of the Italian cowboy mafia, and I don’t doubt him.

Like the Murpheys, the Matarozzos and Dennisons live the cowboy life, except that they are broke. Besides that, the giveaway is their boots.

Murphey played another sold-out show on Saturday night in Montrose. Thanks for coming back around, cowboy.

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■ The Museum of the West will open a new exhibit titled “Western Slope Heritage Rendezvous: Treasures of the Community” on Friday. The exhibit will be on display through May 3 at the museum at 462 Ute Ave. Info: 242-0971, museumofwesternco.org.

■ Take in more than 50 short and feature films at the Grand Junction Film Fest on Friday and Saturday in the University Center Ballroom at Colorado Mesa University. Tickets cost $25 for a single day or $35 for two days and can be purchased at City Market stores and Ticketswest.com. Info: gjfilmfest.org/

Check Friday’s Out & About for additional entertainment events.


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