summer sounds

Residents regularly fill the area in front of the stage on the downtown Gainesville square to enjoy live music at "Summer Sounds."

The July 27 installment of Gainesville’s “Summer Sounds” outdoor music showcase will be headlined with a name familiar to bookstores and libraries.

Austin-based grassroots rocker James McMurtry, son of “Lonesome Dove” author Larry McMurtry, is set to take the stage during the Friday-night concert — which begins at 6 p.m. at the downtown Gainesville square and also features group Midnight Drive. The event is free and open to the public.

McMurtry’s early influences were an intersection of country and rock, evidently producing a talent quick to gain awards. The musician’s website states his recording career began with the 1989 release of “Too Long in the Wasteland,” which was produced for Columbia Records by famed rocker John Mellencamp. In 1996, McMurtry received a Grammy nomination for his video of the song “Where'd You Hide The Body?” His 1997 release, “It Had To Happen,” received the American Indie Award for “Best Americana Album.”

In 2004, the website states, McMurtry released the universally-lauded “Live in Aught-Three,” while 2005's “Childish Things” garnered some of the highest critical praise of McMurtry's career and spent several weeks topping the Americana Music Radio Chart during 2005 and 2006. In September 2006, “Childish Things” and "We Can't Make It Here" won the Americana Music Awards for “Album of the Year” and “Song of the Year,” respectively. And McMurtry received additional Americana Music Award nominations for 2008's “Just Us Kids,” which reportedly marked his highest “Billboard 200” chart position in nearly 20 years.

In 2009, “Live in Europe” was released, capturing The McMurtry Band's first European tour and live set. The website said McMurtry continues to tour constantly, and consistently puts on a “must-see” performance.

"Much attention is paid to James McMurtry's lyrics, and rightfully so,” said a review in The Washington Post. “He creates a novel's worth of emotion and experience in four minutes of blisteringly stark couplets. What gets overlooked, however, is that he's an accomplished rock guitar player. At a sold-out Birchmere (Music Hall), the Austin-based artist was joined by drummer Daren Hess and bassist Ronnie Johnson in a set that demonstrated the raw power of wince-inducing imagery propelled by electric guitar. It was serious stuff, imparted by a singularly serious band.”

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