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Singer/songwriter Michael Martin Murphey got his musical start playing ukulele, an instrument he will not play at his March 30 concert.

Michael Martin Murphey is bringing his authentic cowboy style show to Kerrville’s Cailloux Theater for one night only on Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. More information online at caillouxtheater.com, or by calling TEXMO Entertainment at 417-699-6199.


webmaster: phil@fullhouseproductions.net

Ukulele Murphey

by Phil Houseal
Mar 19, 2014


The instrument that started Michael Martin Murphey on the road to become one of the top writers/singer songwriters in the industry is one you won’t hear him play on stage next Sunday.

It is the ukulele.

Martin’s grandfather brought his 5-year-old grandson a ukulele back from Hawaii where he had been stationed in World War II.

“He sent me a little uke in one of those fruit baskets,” Murphey recalled. “It had an instruction manual in it, and a little pitch pipe. I figured out how to tune that thing, and I loved playing it, because it fit my size.”

Murphey proved to be a pretty good ukulele player, and moved on to guitar at age 12, which his grandfather also gave him. That got him hooked on music. By the time Murphey was in high school was co-hosting his own TV music show in Dallas–the Hometown Hootenanny

“It was all acoustic music, and original songs. I played two songs a week, and got good feedback on that.”

At age 17, he opened a coffeehouse, then worked his way through college playing music.

Decades later, Murphey is still playing, writing, recording, and touring.

“Touring takes a lot of time,” he said. But it is a challenge he loves. “I have always got more songs around than space on an album for. I’m always working on something.”

Listen to short clip of Murphey talking about this...

Of course now Murphey has a supporting cast of musicians and staffers to handle the non music stuff (“They pretty much wheel me on and off stage,” he joked.) And he has gone from playing uke, to performing with 100 symphonies around the world. For this Hill Country show, he will sing his hits accompanied with a trio of guitar players.

“This is a more intimate way to see him,” said Lance Cowan, “Murph’s” longtime Nashville-based publicist. “He lays out the way he wrote each song. It’s a little more off the cuff, maybe, and feels like you are in the living room with him.”

Cowan is also a fan.

“The essence of what he has always been is a songwriter,” Cowan said. “If you go back and listen to Geronimo’s Cadillac, it is still phenomenal; the writing is still terrific. Then you listen to Red River Drifter, his most recent recording, and you’ll find he is the same caliber writer now that he was then.”

For someone who makes light of himself, Murphey has had a huge impact on American music. Michael Martin Murphey has topped the Pop, Country, Bluegrass and Western Music charts, earned six gold albums and multiple Grammy nominations. His songs have become country and pop classics: Wildfire, Carolina In The Pines, Cowboy Logic, Cherokee Fiddle, Boy From The Country, and more.

Beneath that self-effacing cowboy image, lies a man who studied his craft.

 “If you want to be a writer for a living, it’s a good idea to study music, literature, and read a lot,” Murphey told me in phone interview. “If you don’t want to read the classics, there is plenty of other stuff. That’s where you learn phrasing and rhyme schemes. I strongly believe in taking courses in college in poetry, and creative writing courses. Then write, write, write.”

That boy who fell in love with all things string put in a lot of work to be the overnight success who did Wildfire.

“I can tell you this: when the luck comes you better be ready. If you have talent means absolutely nothing if you don’t apply it.”

A Texas native, Michael Martin Murphey has moved beyond pop success and works to preserve and spread traditional cowboy music. Murphey is an ardent and well-known keeper of the history of the American West. He celebrates the Western way of life, and especially enjoys exploring the link between Appalachian and Western music, a sound spread by Irish immigrants throughout the country.

While he always plays his early hits Wildfire and Carolina in the Pines, he is not interested in giving an “all nostalgia” show. He includes new material, cowboy poems, and stories of the west. There is only one thing you won’t hear at a Michael Martin Murphey concert.

“No, I don’t use the uke on stage.”