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Michael Martin Murphey brings Cowboy Christmas to Meskwaki

December 7, 2018
By C.J. Eilers - Editor (Traer Star-Clipper/ Dysart Reporter) , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

By CJ Eilers


Traer Star-Clipper/ Dysart Reporter

Article Photos

Michael Martin Murphey

Country outlaw and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Michael Martin Murphey is set to bring his 25th Annual Cowboy Christmas to Meskwaki Bingo Casino and Hotel for the first time ever on Saturday, Dec. 8, promising an American take on the beloved holiday only a country outlaw can tell.

Murphey's Cowboy Christmas originated from his 1991 album Cowboy Christmas: Cowboy Songs II and evolved into a full-fledged tour on which he's travelled over the past 25 years across the country. The country singer spoke about his inspiration as he sat down for an interview on Monday before his first Tama concert.

"Cowboy Christmas is based on a tradition started in 1885 in Texas and is one of my most successful albums I ever produced," Murphey said. "I found out the original event was still going on with a committee keeping it alive and played on that. I took pictures and video of this tradition and wanted to give people an idea of what Christmas looked like in farming/ranching country, and in my opinion what it should be."

Fact Box



Michael Martin Murphey Cowboy Christmas

WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 8,

8 p.m.

WHERE:?Meskwaki Veterans Convention Center, Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel, rural Tama



Those photos and videos play in the background on screens with each relating to the songs from over 150 years of cowboy music. With a full band at his side, Murphey proudly takes this production on the road even after six decades of performances.

"My love of the music and what I'm doing keeps me going," Murphey said. "Thank the Lord I've been able to do what I love all of my life. I've had up years, down years, but I've survived through it all. I love people, love to perform and love bringing people together through my music."

Murphey's career initially began in California in the late 1960s/early 1970s before moving to Austin to become part of the outlaw country movement with other performers such as Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. In 1972, Murphey signed with A&M Records after being discovered by Bob Johnston, who had produced some of the country's most popular recording artists including Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Simon and Garfunkel. His first album, Geronimo's Cadillac, produced a Top 40 pop hit with the title track. Greater success awaited after signing with Epic Records in 1973 and producing Blue Sky Night Thunder with Johnston, an album that contained his biggest hit "Wildfire", which charted at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1975. Murphey's success would continued into the 1980s with hits like "Still Taking Chances", "Disenchanted", "Don't Count the Rainy Days", "Will It Be Love by Morning", "Radio Land", "Maybe This Time", and the number one country hit "What's Forever For". However, the "outlaw" as part of a vital Austin music would remain in Murphey forever.

"I get very nostalgic about that time, and I can't put it into words even being a songwriter," Murphey said. "We were a bunch of scuffling songwriters looking for somewhere else than Los Angeles and Nashville to produce our music. All of us gathered together-myself, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Guy Clark-had tried to make it elsewhere and we'd compare notes in our writing. It was an essential time in my career as we had the freedom we needed."

Four years ago, the National Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville requested Murphey create a documentary on the Austin music scene from 1968-74 that would go on to be named "Outlaws and Armadillos."

"When I was doing the project, it occurred to me to review the whole scene myself creatively and do a tribute album on what I consider the masterpieces of that time," Murphey said. "This album isn't about my music, but all the music and people together at that time."

Murphey's roots extend further than Austin, however, as he lived in LaCrosse, WI for 10 years starting in 2001 and found a welcoming home in nearby as well over the years of touring. Murphey was inducted into the Iowa Traditional Country Music Hall of Fame several years ago, noting the state is a strong supporter of the genre.

"When I'm performing in Iowa, I'm performing in a state that is built on agriculture," Murphey said. "I'm a show built around rural people in ranching and farm. I've never had a show in Iowa that wasn't a successful show. I've never played in Tama, but this state is so committed to agriculture, which is the backbone of any nation. I have family in Wisconsin coming down for what is almost a family reunion here for this show. I'm thrilled to be here."

So it will be a family get-together and Christmas show in Meskwaki all in one for Murphey as hopes to bring an American Christmas message to Tama this weekend.

"America does have its own Christmas tradition," Murphey said. "We celebrated a Victorian Christmas with roots in English and Russian influences, but we have our own traditions we honor with this show. We are proud of that style and are the country whose written the most Christmas music-secular and religious-than any other country."

Tickets for the performance are available for purchase at:



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