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Music Legend Michael Martin Murphey Comes To Socorro

Music Legend Michael Martin Murphey Comes To Socorro

Tuesday, October 31

SOCORRO, N.M. – Michael Martin Murphey is more than a singing rancher-poet and award-winning musical artist – he is a longtime advocate for the preservation of land and water, and his lyrics reflect that passion.

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Music legend Michael Martin Murphey will perform in Socorro for the first time. Murphey has been writing critically-acclaimed songs and albums since the early 1970s.

 

For the first time in Murphey’s four-decade career, he will perform in concert in Socorro at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center in a Performing Arts Series (PAS) event.

His performance coincides with the 30th annual Festival of the Cranes at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, a six-day event (Nov. 14 to 19) featuring 156 sessions from bird photography to hikes, which draws hundreds of visitors annually.

Arrive early and take part in Tech Club Macey’s Chuck Wagon Social Hour from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., also at Macey Center, open to members ($7) and non-members ($10) alike; this event is ticketed separately from the concert.

“We’re delighted to feature the multi-talented Michael Martin Murphey as part of our PAS entertainment series,” said PAS Director Ronna Kalish. “His story of success is one of hard work, perseverance and a deep-seated commitment to the preservation of the great American West, its culture and values.”

In keeping with the theme of the evening, Socorro’s own Doug Figgs and the Cowboy Way will open for the headliner.

Kalish issued a special invitation to Festival of the Cranes visitors and to music aficionados up and down the Rio Grande Valley to enjoy a first-class performance by the Texas native in the cozy confines of New Mexico Tech’s premier entertainment venue.

As a singer, songwriter and producer, Murphey has earned a lasting place in the annals of cowboy music, and is now in the Western Music Hall of Fame. His songs have been recorded by Kenny Rogers, John Denver, Lyle Lovett, Roger Miller, and many other prominent musicians and performers.

Long before Murphey debuted 1972’s “Geronimo’s Cadillac,” he had been toiling in the trenches to build a songwriting career. All at once, it seemed, years of behind-the-scenes creative striving propelled him to the forefront of a new musical subgenre, earning him a leading role in the “Cosmic Cowboy” movement.

Michael Nesmith (aka “Wool Hat” to Monkees fans) was instrumental in giving Murphey his first big break when Nesmith asked him to write a song for the next Monkees album, “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.”

Murphey’s contribution to the album, which sold over five million copies, was “What Am I Doing Hangin’ Round.” He wrote additional songs for the Monkees, but grew disillusioned with the paltry financial rewards and the Southern California music scene.

In 1971, Murphey returned to Texas and became part of the so-called Outlaw Country movement, playing alongside such maverick performers as Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker. He then created a unique sound combining country, rock and folk influences. During this period Murphey wrote “Geronimo’s Cadillac,” a song about Native American rights that later became an unofficial anthem for the American Indian Movement in the early 1970s.

Early in his career, Murphey performed under the name Michael Murphey, but later added his middle name to distinguish himself from the actor Michael Murphey.

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If younger listeners are familiar with Murphey, it may be as the man committed to the niche of traditional-minded Western cowboy music since around 1990. Those slightly older might remember his easygoing mainstream country hits from the 1980s (he edged out George Strait for the Academy of Country Music’s Best New Male Vocalist in 1982), and just about everyone has likely heard his 1975 crossover hit “Wildfire.”

“Wildfire” reached number-three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, as well as No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary charts, eventually surpassing two million in U.S. sales.

A multiple Grammy nominee, Murphey has six gold albums, including “Cowboy Songs,” the first cowboy music album to strike gold since “Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs” by the late Marty Robbins in 1959. (That album included Robbins’ signature hit, “El Paso.”)

Other singles to Murphey’s credit include “Carolina in the Pines,” “What's Forever For,” “A Long Line of Love,” “What She Wants,” “Don't Count the Rainy Days,” and “Maybe This Time.”

“Some people may not know that Murphey wrote New Mexico's state ballad, ‘The Land of Enchantment – New Mexico’,” Kalish said, adding that the cowboy singer-songwriter lived in Taos for a period of time before returning to his native Lone Star State. The ballad, featuring words and music by Murphey, Chick Raines and Don Cook, was adopted as the official state ballad in 1989.

No doubt his Socorro concert will feature selections from his most recent album, “Michael Martin Murphey High Stakes: Cowboy Songs VII,” which debuted, not coincidentally, on Earth Day 2017 (April 22).

In describing the collection, a reviewer from Rapid River Monthly had this to say: “No longer is the singular troubadour roaming horizons in search of elusive romance; Murphey instead turns his attention to such pressing issues as the environmental devastation of his beloved western plains.”

Murphey is a longtime supporter of the conservation movement, attempting to find a middle ground between ranchers and activists on opposite sides of environmental issues.

“Real environmentalists are the men and women who spend their days working the land responsibly to ensure its health for generations to come,” he said.

And yes, he practices what he preaches.

Sponsors are Vertu Fine Art Gallery, Don and Rosie Tripp, First State Bank of Socorro, Mine Country 102.1 and Holiday Inn Express.

This concert is the Betty Clark Memorial Platinum Inaugural Endowment event of the season. It commemorates Betty Clark, a music aficionado and patron of arts in Socorro. She was a long-time PAS subscriber, who loved music, participated in all the music performance groups at New Mexico Tech, had a great sense of humor and a heart of gold.

Tickets are $22 for adults, $18 for seniors and $10 for youths. New Mexico Tech students will be admitted free with their student ID at the door, or can pick up one ticket each at the New Mexico Tech Bookstore.

Tickets also can be purchased online at nmtpas.org, or at the following locations: PAS office, New Mexico Tech Cashier (Fidel Center), Socorro County Chamber of Commerce, Sofia’s Kitchen and El Sombrero.