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Michael Martin Murphey brims with hand-crafted goodness in concert

Crazyhorse Steakhouse, Irvine, Cal., Nov. 20, 2000

By Dan MacIntosh

IRIVINE, CA - Just last night, newscasters were debating this year's early arrival of Santa Claus, who is making mall appearances before Thanksgiving, and here was jolly old Michael Martin Murphey with his 16th annual Christmas Cowboy show. But while generic trappings of the Christmas season may be overwhelming, especially if they hit you before you're even ready for them, Murphey's unique Western take on holiday traditions is always a welcome guest.

No doubt, the music business knows how to make cash registers jingle at Christmas time, as racks with holiday product begin to look like overstuffed stockings as Dec. 25th approaches. Murphey, on the other hand, has no desire to give the world yet more lame rendition of "Silent Night," or mark the arrival of Saint Nick with another thoughtless run-through of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."

Instead, he focused is energies this evening on telling childhood stories about his first white Christmas in Texas, recalling a horse he once received as a gift and reciting various rustic cowboy takes on Christmas balls and such.

Supported by a five-piece band, which included David Coe's Celtic-influenced fiddle as well as stand-up bass and touches of hammer dulcimer, Murphey supplemented his storytelling with cowboy-centric carols like "Christmas on the Line" and "Ridin' Home On Christmas Eve," as well as offbeat song choices, such as "Corn, Water and Wood," which views the Christmas story from a uniquely Native American perspective.

Attending one of these cozy events is like finding a special gift for that special someone, instead of fighting with everybody else for whatever happens to be this year's model. Michael Martin Murphey's Cowboy Christmas brims with hand-crafted goodness.

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