Friday, January 22, 2010

Forgotten Music: Michael Murphy and Steve Fromholz

I've never been a big concert-goer. Back in the Seventies, though, when I was going to college in Denton, I went to a few shows on campus since they were free. I saw Willie Nelson a couple of times that way. But the best concert I attended there featured Michael Murphey and Steve Fromholz, who at the time were part of the so-called "outlaw country" movement of singer/songwriters in Texas. Murphey is better known now as Michael Martin Murphey and does a lot of traditional Western music (much different from "country and western" music, which is often really neither of those things). Fromholz, who was also part of a duo known as Frummox with Dan McCrimmon, never became well-known, although he appeared as an actor in at least one movie starring Willie Nelson. He was also the official Poet Laureate of Texas at one time. I have no idea what he's doing now.

He and Michael Murphey were both great at that concert, and I had a fine time. "Texas Trilogy" is probably Fromholz's best song, although I'm also fond of a humorous tune called "Rest Area Waltz". My friend Leland DeBusk was at that concert with me and became a big Fromholz fan, even learning to play "Texas Trilogy" on the guitar. And Murphy's "Cosmic Cowboy" really sums up the era. Leland could play that one, too. He's gone now, bless his heart, but the music's still here and makes me think of him. "Ridin' the range and actin' strange . . ." Good stuff from 'way back when.





7 comments:

David Cranmer said...

After today, no longer forgotten to me. Excellent music.

Scott Cupp said...

I still have my old Frummox vinyl LP. I loved the Texas Trilogy. A few years ago I got a two disc Steve Frumholtz CD and played it for Sandi. While Texas Trilogy was playing she looked at me and said "Did you pay money for this?" I guess we were all products of our time and Sandi was time-less.

pattinase (abbott) said...

My favorite concert-on the night we got engaged (1966)-a double bill of The Supremes and Stevie Wonder. He brought the house down. I never went to many either but this was sensational

Richard Robinson said...

"Cosmic Cowboy" sounds familiar, the first song: not at all. I wouldn't mind hearing a fully produced studio version of "Cosmic". Neat post, thanks!

Scott Parker said...

I know Texas Trilogy from Lyle Lovett's 1998 album "Step Inside This House." In the concert tour of that year, Lovett paid homage to all the Texas troubadours. Hearing the original now, I can tell Lovett changed very little.

School in Denton. Tres cool. I went to grad school up at UNT.

Evan Lewis said...

Great stuff, James. I'd never heard of MM Murphey until I happened into a bar in Albuquerque in the early 90s and heard him doing the cowboy music.

James Reasoner said...

Scott C.,
I guess it's like the old saying, you just had to be there. I was there. I think. Sometimes it's hard to remember . . .

Scott P.,
When I was in Denton it was still North Texas State University. Both of my daughters graduated from UNT and also lived in the same dorm I lived in when it was NTSU. I still like to go to Denton and look around. Some places have changed a lot, but others haven't.