James McMurtry has released an exclusive solo digital EP entitled Soundcheck at the Gallery as a benefit for the legendary Austin-based Continental Club, to help cover the venue’s mounting costs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new EP doubles down on efforts already in motion by the iconic singer-songwriter: his recent digital EP Blast From the Past also benefits the club. McMurtry, who has had a Wednesday-night residency at the Continental for more than 20 years, is donating 100% of both of the EPs’ sales. “All moneys for the two EPs go directly to the staff of the Continental Club,” McMurtry says, “because they can’t mix a virtual margarita.”
Soundcheck From the Gallery frames four of McMurtry’s finest narratives — “Delaware,” “Levelland,” “Melinda” and his show-closing “Peter Pan” — in absolute peak solo-and-acoustic form. The five-song Blast From the Past, featuring McMurtry on vocals and guitar, Ronnie Johnson on bass, Daren Hess on drums, and Tim Holt on guitar, was recorded at the Continental in 2006. McMurtry bookends Blast From the Past with his fan favorite “Rachel’s Song” and Jon Dee Graham’s classic “Laredo,” with “St. Mary of the Woods, “See the Elephant,” and “Out Here in the Middle” between.
Catch McMurtry twice a week online on his live streams Wednesday Night Hunker Bunker at 8 p.m. and Sunday Go to Meetin’ at 1 p.m. (both Central Time). Additionally, he’ll join a who’s who of Americana all-stars including Alejandro Escovedo, Jackson Browne, Steve Earle, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Rodney Crowell, Shinyribs, Verlon Thompson, and dozens more on February 13, 6 p.m. (Central) for the Food for Love virtual concert, with all proceeds benefiting New Mexicans facing hunger during the pandemic. Please visit foodforlove.org for more information.
“Some musician friends of mine — and many I’ve never met — are doing a virtual concert to raise money for meals in New Mexico’s hardest hit,” David Byrne wrote in a statement sent to his newsletter subscribers. “New Mexico ranks almost at the bottom in poverty in the U.S. and the Navajo and other Native American lands have long been shorted basic health, jobs and education services — so the impact of Covid on these folks has been devastating.”
Meanwhile, McMurtry continues riding waves of universal acclaim for his last offering, Complicated Game. “At a stage where most veteran musicians fall into a groove or rut, McMurtry continues to surprise,” Texas Music magazine recently noted. “[Complicated Game] is a collection of narratives as sharply observed as any from McMurtry, but with a contemplative depth that comes with maturity.” McMurtry is currently completing his debut on celebrated Americana standard-bearer New West Records.