Saddling up to an empty bar at 9:30 p.m. on a Thursday, I wasn’t expecting much. The bar was empty, the singer was the only other patron for a little bit. I had never seen Alex McMurray before.
Now, I’ve only lived in New Orleans for little over a year. I shouldn’t punish myself for not having seen every musician in town at least once, but now I’m just sheepish. He’s just that good.
So Many Musicians to Choose From
With a sea of musicians in New Orleans, every once in a while I see someone of Tsunami stature. During the aforementioned two-set gig at Saturn Bar last Thursday, I caught myself being atypically quiet. And I’m never quiet. When the set started, there were 10 or so bar patrons.
By the end of the first set, the bar had swelled to a nice sized crowd, listening and applauding, clearly coming just to see him play. I could feel the crowd leaning forward when McMurray delved into one of his many killer guitar solos.
Holding a Mirror to Life in New Orleans
We were attentive to the lyrics too, for good reason. Alex McMurray’s song writing is fantastic. His sense of humor parallels his tenderness. His reflections on New Orleans are ironic and honest. He sees things we all see, but relates them in a way that gives them new light. His voice (writing and singing) has a sweet sprinkling of Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits.
We stayed until the bitter end, and on a school night. So wonderful to be in a town where Thursday night’s no-cover solo gig can hold my attention all the way through. (But don’t forget to TIP!)
Alex McMurray is Very Busy
The next day, like a good music fan, I started doing my research. Not only can Alex McMurray stand alone with a guitar and microphone, he plays in several local duos, trios, and bands including The Mirlitones, Happy Talk Band, The Valparaiso Men’s Chorus, and The Tom Paines, a folk duo with Jonathan Freilich.
One of the easiest to catch in town is The Tin Men, a trio comprised of Washboard Chaz on percussion and vocals and Matt Perrine on sousaphone. Certainly an odd combination of instruments, these three men use their skills in playing and songwriting to prop them up in the front seat of a rambling, big easy vehicle. The Tin Men can be seen pretty much weekly at d.b.a. on Frenchmen Street.
Check out Alex McMurray’s show schedule online, find him in New Orleans, and fill that tip bucket.
Who is your New Orleans celebrity crush?