"The simple fact is that James McMurtry may be
the truest, fiercest songwriter of his generation..."
Stephen King | Entertainment Weekly



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 6, 2017







JAMES McMURTRY OPENING FOR JASON ISBELL AND THE 400 UNIT

ON MIDWEST AND EAST COAST TOUR IN JANUARY AND FEBRUARY

Razor-sharp songwriters to play several major markets including

Atlanta (Fox Theatre), Pittsburgh (Heinz Hall) and Brooklyn (Kings Theatre)



AUSTIN, Texas — Singer-songwriter enthusiasts rejoice: James McMurtry will open for Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit on an extensive tour together in early 2018. The highly lauded tunesmiths will launch the run at the Criterion in Oklahoma City on January 4 and serpentine for weeks throughout the South, Midwest and East Coast before concluding at the Charleston Municipal Auditorium in Charleston, West Virginia on February 17. Major markets on this exciting tour include the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh and Kings Theatre in Brooklyn.

“James McMurtry is one of my very few favorite songwriters on Earth,” Isbell says, “and these days he's working at the top of his game.”

The McMurtry-Isbell combination offers fans lyrical and musical depth and weight few tours can match. After all, they’ve both been hailed as the finest songwriters of their respective generations whose latest releases — McMurtry's Complicated Game and Isbell and the 400 Unit's The Nashville Sound — show them in absolutely peak form. “James has that rare gift of being able to make a listener laugh out loud at one line and choke up at the next,” Isbell enthuses. “I don't think anybody writes better lyrics.” “Jason Isbell is one of the best songwriter-performers working today,” McMurtry counters, “and unlike most of us, he seems to have a work ethic to match. I will be studying him from the wings on this run.”

McMurtry continues riding waves of universal acclaim for Complicated Game. “At a stage where most veteran musicians fall into a groove or rut, McMurtry continues to surprise,” Texas Music magazine recently noted. “[Complicated Game] is a collection of narratives as sharply observed as any from McMurtry, but with a contemplative depth that comes with maturity.” Indeed, the Austin resident's latest collection spotlights a singular craftsman as he turns inward (“These Things I've Come to Know,” “You Got to Me”). “The lyrical theme is mostly about relationships,” McMurtry says. “It's also a little about the big old world verses the poor little farmer or fisherman.”

Either way, McMurtry spins his stories with a novelist’s eye (“Long Island Sound”) and a painter's precision (“She Loves Me”) throughout. “[McMurtry] takes listeners on a road trip of unprecedented geographic and emotional scope,” No Depression raved of Complicated Game. “Lyrically, the album is wise and adventurous, with McMurtry — who’s not prone to autobiographical tales — credibly inhabiting characters from all walks of life.” “[McMurtry] fuses wry, literate observations about the world with the snarl of barroom rock,” National Public Radio echoed. “The result is at times sardonic, subversive and funny, but often vulnerable and always poignant.”

Longtime fans know McMurtry’s vibrant vignettes have turned heads for more than a quarter-century now. His critically successful first album Too Long in the Wasteland (1989), which was produced by John Mellencamp, marked the beginning of a series of acclaimed projects for Columbia and Sugar Hill Records. In 1996, McMurtry received a Grammy nomination for Long Form Music Video for “Where’d You Hide the Body.” Additionally, It Had To Happen (1997) received the American Indie Award for Best Americana Album. In his long career, songs like “Childish Things,” “Choctaw Bingo,” “Peter Pan,” “Levelland,” and “Out Here in the Middle” only begin the list of high watermarks. (Yes, Robert Earl Keen covered those last two, “Levelland” remaining a live staple.) Childish Things (2005) scored endless critical praise and spent six full weeks topping the Americana Music Radio chart. In 2006, it won the Americana Music Association’s Album of the Year. The track “We Can’t Make It Here” was named that rapidly rising organization’s Song of the Year, and was cited among The Nation’s "Best Protest Songs Ever.” Just Us Kids (2008) earned McMurtry his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched Americana Music Award nominations. Just Us Kids alone includes fan favorites “Hurricane Party,” “Ruby and Carlos” and “You’d a Thought.” Songs detailing the lives of everyday people, like “Fireline Road,” pierce listeners’ hearts with sharp sociopolitical commentary. “James McMurtry may be the truest, fiercest songwriter of his generation,” said Stephen King.

Meanwhile, Isbell and the 400 Unit's The Nashville Sound follows their critically acclaimed Something More Than Free (2015), which won two Grammy Awards (Best Americana Album and Best American Roots Song, “24 Frames”) and two Americana Music Association Awards (Album of the Year and Song of the Year, “24 Frames”). Nashville Sound’s ten tracks address real-life subjects, including cultural privilege, politics, love, and mortality. The release also finds Isbell and his bandmates returning to their rock roots full force.

Isbell steadily has become one the most respected and celebrated songwriters working today. “With his honeysuckle drawl and unrivaled knack for lyrical detail,” Rolling Stone magazine noted, “Jason Isbell is arguably the most revered roots-rock singer-songwriter of his generation. Isbell sings of the every day human condition with thoughtful, heartfelt, and sometimes brutal honesty, and the new album is no exception.”

The Nashville Sound was recorded at Nashville's legendary RCA Studio A and produced by Grammy Award-winner Dave Cobb, who also produced Something More Than Free as well as Isbell’s 2013 breakthrough album Southeastern. The Nashville Sound is the first official Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit album since 2011’s Here We Rest. Isbell's band the 400 Unit features Derry deBorja (keyboards), Chad Gamble (drums), Jimbo Hart (bass), Amanda Shires (fiddle) and Sadler Vaden (guitar). The group’s five-night stand at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium in October sold out in less than three hours.

McMurtry’s no stranger to sold-out venues himself. He’s been packing houses with the James McMurtry Band since the release of his first record. In 2004, the popular Live in Aught-Three, on Compadre Records, demonstrated McMurtry & co.’s power on the road. In 2009, the CD/DVD Live in Europe was released, capturing the band’s first European tour and extraordinary live set. Along with seasoned band members Ronnie Johnson, Daren Hess, and Tim Holt, the disc features special guests Ian McLagan (the late Faces keyboardist and longtime Austin fixture) and Jon Dee Graham (True Believers, Skunks).

McMurtry tours year round and consistently throws down unparalleled powerhouse performances. The Washington Post notes: “Much attention is paid to James McMurtry’s lyrics and rightfully so: 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 ... serious stuff, imparted by a singularly serious band.”

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit with special guest James McMurtry tour dates

Thur., Jan. 4 OKLAHOMA CITY, OK The Criterion

Fri., Jan. 5 DALLAS, TX The Bomb Factory

Sat., Jan. 6 BATON ROUGE, LA Baton Rouge River Center

Sun., Jan. 7 MOBILE, AL Saenger Theatre

Thur., Jan. 18 BIRMINGHAM, AL Alabama Theatre

Fri., Jan. 19 BIRMINGHAM, AL Alabama Theatre

Sat., Jan. 20 BIRMINGHAM, AL Alabama Theatre

Sun., Jan. 21 LITTLE ROCK, AR Robinson Performance Hall

Tue., Jan. 23 CEDAR RAPIDS, IA Paramount Theatre

Wed., Jan. 24 MILWAUKEE, WI The Riverside Theatre

Fri., Jan. 26 ANN ARBOR, MI Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Sat., Jan. 27 INDIANAPOLIS, IN Murat Theatre at Old National Center

Mon., Jan. 29 PITTSBURGH, PA Heinz Hall

Tue., Jan. 30 BUFFALO, NY UB Center for the Arts

Wed., Jan. 31 ALBANY, NY The Palace Theatre

Fri., Feb. 2 PROVIDENCE, RI Veterans Memorial

Sat., Feb. 3 BROOKLYN, NY Kings Theatre

Mon., Feb. 5 RED BANK, NJ Count Basie Theatre

Tue., Feb. 6 BALTIMORE, MD The Modell Lyric

Thur., Feb. 8 ATLANTA, GA Fox Theatre

Fri., Feb. 9 ATLANTA, GA Fox Theatre

Sat., Feb. 10 DURHAM, NC Durham Performing Arts Center

Sun., Feb. 11 DURHAM, NC Durham Performing Arts Center

Tue., Feb. 13 ITHACA, NY State Theatre of Ithaca

Wed., Feb. 14 READING, PA The Santander Performing Arts Center

Fri., Feb. 16 RICHMOND, VA Altria Theatre Richmond

Sat., Feb. 17 CHARLESTON, WV Charleston Municipal Auditorium

# # #

Publicity:

Cary Baker, Conqueroo, cary@conqueroo.com

Julie Arkenstone, Conqueroo, julie@conqueroo.com


James McMurtry management: Jenni Finlay • jenni@ jennifinlay.com 


Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit management • Traci Thomas • traci@thirtytigers.com

“James writes like he's lived a lifetime.” —John Mellencamp

“The most vital lyricist in America today.” —Bob Harris, BBC 2 RADIO

“James McMurtry is a true Americana poet – actually he is a poet regardless of genre” —Michael Nesmith

“McMurtry might be the best topical writer performing right now and (Just Us Kids) finds him at his finest.”
—Patterson Hood, Drive-By Truckers

"America's fiercest songwriter" - CNN

“James McMurtry writes songs filled with characters so real that you're sure they're going to climb out of the speakers and look you in the eyes.” —VOICE OF AMERICA

“McMurtry aims for the jugular.” —DIRTY LINEN“A conservative,” Franklin Roosevelt said almost 70 years ago, “is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward.” James McMurtry – work shirt tucked, fists clenched – turns those words into weapons on Just Us Kids. Think Steve Earle with an even more pointed – and sometimes sharper – vision. Essential listening at the height of election season.
– Brian T. Atkinson, RELIX

“The songwriting conscience of America,” —FOLK WAX

“As the years pile on, James McMurtry sings with ever more authority and deserved cynical grace...With each album, (he) finds more to say and a stubborn, uncompromising way to say it.” —iTUNES

“Music that's haunting but familiar, much like the struggles he depicts.” —WASHINGTON POST

“brave, smart, and pithy music that captures James McMurtry at the top of his game.” —ALL MUSIC

“more energized than ever.” —TEXAS MONTHLY

“His songwriting is clear and precise, and he proves once again that he is not afraid to take on the powers that be.” —VINTAGE GUITAR

“McMurtry’s songwriting is in a class by itself.” —METROMIX

“Texastentialist panorama of gray-sky lucidity and neon highway jungles...” —VILLAGE VOICE

“The veteran Texas songwriter’s new album, Just Us Kids, features the slow burner ‘Cheney’s Toy,’ one of the sharpest musical indictments yet of George Bush.” —ROLLING STONE

“emboldened by the reception to 2004’s acerbic (and increasingly relevant) ‘We Can’t Make it Here,’ McMurtry ramps up the polemics on Just Us Kids.” —USA TODAY

“One of the best protest singers working today.” —TIME OUT CHICAGO