Alex McMurray Press Kit
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Press for Alex McMurray
Alumnus holds 8th annual Chaz Fest in his backyardTulane University New Wave April 29, 2013
It’s lucky for music lovers that Tulane alumnus Alex McMurray decided one day in 1992 to ask himself what would happen if kept riding his bike into the unknown — beyond the French Quarter. The journey took him to the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans, where he co-founded the local music festival Chaz Fest that takes place in his own backyard on Wednesday (May 1).
Jazz Fest 2013 Focus: Alex McMurrayOffbeat Magazine - Jazz Fest Bible May 1, 2013
On a recent Saturday evening Alex McMurray filled Siberia with an audience that hung on every word of his compositions, a catalog that ranges from wry to wistful to ribald. McMurray is adept at this solo magic, playing material mostly culled from his 2012 release I Will Never Be Alone In This Land. McMurray has also been playing shows, often with special guests, Thursday nights in the Saturn Bar, in what amounts to an intimate house party.
A little too intimate for McMurray’s taste.
John Swenson Reviews "I Will Never Be Alone In This Land"Stereophile Magazine January 22, 2013
ALEX MCMURRAY / Will Never Be Alone In This Land Threadhead THR00051 (CD). 2012. Carlo Nuccio, prod.; Jacques DeLatour By John Swenson, December 2012 stereophile.com
Alex McMurray is the linchpin of one of the most vibrant music scenes in contemporary America: the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans. This bohemian paradise has its own fringe festival, Chaz Fest, run by the enter-prising McMurray, who plays with the Tin Men, Happy Talk Band, and the Valparaiso Men's Chorus. While his versatile, genre-defying guitar work is a prized asset in local sessions—McMurray is one of the core players at Bywater's recording mecca, Piety Street Studios—his greatest strength is his songwriting. McMurray's compositional imagina-tion seems boundless. He covers as wide a stylistic range as any contempo-rary writer, matching cleverly turned lyrics and story songs with durable melodies and a structural vision that leads to many of his songs having surprise musical twists that match the words' intricacy. "I was tall in the saddle, sick in the soul," he writes in the surrealistic "The Man Who Shot the Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." This syncopated shuffle rides along on a loping sequence of guitar fills that brings the narrator to this nonchalant observation: "String me up or cut me down / it's all the same to me." What really concerns him? "Bury me not in a mohair suit." In a deadpan as droll as Randy Newman's, he boasts, "I was the fastest gun west of Tarzana," a line that might leave you scratching your head if it weren't so cleverly unaf-fected. Whether it's the lamentation in waltz time of "Texas Again," the Peter Gunn—inspired garage rock of "Otis at the Wheel," the mellow gospel-style meditation of the title track, or the frantic brass-band breakdown "Me and My Bad Luck," we're hearing a true original work his magic.
I Will Never Be Alone In This LandAntiGravity Magazine November 30, 2012
It's been a couple of years since his last solo album, but...
LOOK-KA PY PY PODCAST (EP 13): ALEX MCMURRAY’S INNER VISIONOffbeat Magazine November 28, 2012
“The people that drive you crazy — the only people that can really drive you nuts are the people that love you,” a soft-spoken Alex McMurray tells host Zachary Young in this week’s episode of OffBeat’s Look-Ka Py Py Podcast. “They’re going to be the ones that help you,” he goes on to reveal.
I Will Never Be Alone In This Land - Offbeat Magazine ReviewOffbeat Magazine November 1, 2012
The Grand Sultan of St. Claude (and other streets) songwriting, Alex McMurray is among the best songwriters in New Orleans, a man who over the past two decades has written songs that mark our lives, deaths, loves, hates, hangovers, and what comes before and after those excesses. Buy on Amazon His new record is another set of excellent songs that will insinuate themselves subtly into listeners ears, to the point they will become part of all our lexicons.
Saturn Bar - Theatre of The Damned Reviewgonola.com (New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation) January 31, 2011
I have a new celebrity crush. I just added Alex McMurray to the top of my list...
Alex McMurray makes a splash with his 'Cannonball' CDTimes Picayune August 28, 2009
Alex McMurray is everywhere... But many fans first discovered McMurray April 30. On the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival's Lagniappe Stage, he performed to the largest crowd of his career...
Train Whistles and Flies Wings (How To Be a Cannonball review )Offbeat Magazine July 1, 2009
Although New Orleans has a reputation as a brass/jazz/funk playground, it has been a home to songwriters since the beginning of the 20th Century. From Clarence Williams to Jelly Roll Morton to Dave Bartholomew, from Allen Toussaint and Earl King to more recent tunesmiths such as Paul Sanchez, Anders Osborne and Ed Volker, there's a history of musicians putting words and notes together in profound ways. With How to Be a Cannonball, Alex McMurray takes his place in those ranks.
Alex McMurray's long awaited new album, How to Be a Cannonball, could be the record that gives him the recognition as being one of the best songwriters working today.
Fest Reviews - Alex McMurray made a big impression at Jazz FestTimes Picayune April 30, 2009
The crowd that showed up for his Lagniappe Stage set -- in the high hundreds, at least -- caught him off guard. "I'm just not used to playing for so many people," he said. He should be.
Fest Reviews - French Quarter Festival, New OrleansJazz Times
This raw, funky street trio, a crowd favorite, delivered a wealth of rich material ranging from McMurrays sea chanty
"The Ballad of Capn Sandy" and Danny Barkers "Palm Court Strut", a naughty Nawlins classic full of sexual innuendo,
to covers of Chuck Berrys "Maybellene" and Cab Calloways "The Man From Harlem".
Jazzfest: Behind Threadhead RecordsNew York Times May 3, 2009
Threadhead sounded like an odd name for a record company when I mentioned Glen David Andrews’s gospel album, “Walking Through Heaven’s Gate.” And there’s a story behind it. Threadheads are members of an online social community born out of message threads on the forum at nojazzfest.com;
From Shaky Start to Enduring TraditionNew York Times May 3, 2009
" and Alex McMurray, a droll, raspy singer playing nimble jazz guitar."
Threadheads give up-and-coming musicians a boost Los Angeles TimesLos Angeles Times May 2, 2009
The concept was simple: Fans usually pay for records after they've been made by purchasing them in stores or online. But if the fans put in the money upfront, they could make sure that the records they wanted to hear got made.
NOLAFUgee Interview - 7 Questions with Alex McMurrayNOLAFUgee April 10, 2009
Local musician Alex McMurray, a NOLAFugees favorite, offers a brief glimpse into the professional grind, the state of the city, and why you shouldn't request "Rosy Fingered Dawn" at his shows.
Do you sometimes feel, whether you want to or not, like an elder statesman in the local music
Royal Finger Bowl - Review of One Eyed Jacks ShowLive New Orleans July 1, 2008
The room was sparked and sparkling and vibrating with 150 to 200 people(near the middle of the first set, McMurray thanked the 14 Fingerbowl fans for bringing a friend). What a great feeling, to be among so many people elated to be where they were and nowhere else.
Guano and Nitrates Review - No Quarter MagazineNo Quarter Magazine
Guano + Nitrates" from the Valparaiso Men's Chorus, featuring the Tin Men. It's an album of traditional shanties. But it is very different from other albums of traditional shanties. It is sung as if by a pub full of drunken rowdies... sung the way sailors would have sung, with no holds barred, cursing and swearing like... well... drunken sailors.
Chaz Festival review and video in New Yorker Blog - The New Orleans JournalNew Yorker May 11, 2007
Great Blog entry and video of the Chaz Festival.
Interview in Antigravity MagazineAntigravity Magazine
Alex McMurray talks sea shanties, The Tin Men, bringing back Royal Fingerbowl, and of course, crumudgeons.
LiveNewOrleans.comLive New Orleans April 14, 2007
They [the Tin Men] sound exactly like New Orleans sounds in my head. The amount of genres they mix might be unparalleled locally. So, I love them...
All That Chaz - Review of Chaz FestGambit Magazine May 2, 2006
One of the best aspects about the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is the festival that happens outside the Fair Grounds' fences.
Save the Music: Big Easy Musicians Come to Bard for Benefit - Daily FreemanDailyFreeman.com October 14, 2005
New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, but the city's music lives, something French Quarter regulars Coco Robicheaux and the band Tin Men will demonstrate tonight in a benefit concert at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson...
Jazz Concert at Bard to Benefit Victims of Hurricane Katrina -TXExtra/Lakeville Journal October 6, 2005
Reviews of Alex's solo release - BanjaxedGambit Magazine
Alex McMurray's new record, BANJAXED, overflows with great songs that have a slightly offbeat perspective. In his previous work with the band Royal Fingerbowl or the current trio The Tin Men, McMurray has penned songs about some strange folks. They are the type of folks that sit at the end of the bar talking to themselves and hopefully not harassing you or people whose stories are so heartfelt that you want to comfort them and let them cry on your shoulder. Here on BANJAXED, his songs are populated by the character lamenting "Ain't it hard when you're old/ain't it hard when you're weird/ain't it hard when you're frightened/ain't it hard when you're queer/my whole life I've been waiting/ain't nothing been right yet/because the circus never comes to Joliet" or "I will race you to the bottom/I'm a lot nearer than I used to be/I don't want to look at my face in the mirror/how things got cloudy on me/or are they clearer?/I don't want to go back to the old bar again." Part of McMurray's talent in his writing is the way he portrays these characters in a sympathetic light that doesn't sugar coat any of their eccentricities. And he knows how to turn a phrase. On one of the best songs on the album, IT'S NOT THE YEARS, IT'S THE MILES, he writes "Once there was a time/when I was able/to drink ten sailors/under the table/but it soon becomes a bore/when your name is on the lips/of every sailor/that wanders/ashore."
McMurray is often compared to Tom Waits because they both write about the strange denizens of the street and the night. However, McMurray is much more down to earth than Waits, and McMurray's music is much less weird. This record shares more with the music of Jesse Malin or Leonard Cohen. Most of songs here are sparse, just guitar and minimal percussion with occasional horn, accordion, or organ. They borrow liberally and well from jazz, folk, and Tin Pan Alley. There is even a beautiful New Orleans dirge (reflecting the decade and a half that McMurray spent plying his musical trade in almost every venue in that musically soaked city) called "THE DAY AFTER MARDI GRAS DAY." Some of the songs are funny. Some are sad. All the songs musically go someplace There is a subtle vulnerability in his words and music that lets the listener identify with the characters and situations. However, in the same way that Cohen or Neil Young have recordings that seem relaxed or almost ramshackle in their attitude but hold a certain intensity and tenacity just under surface, this vibe permeates BANJAXED. McMurray may sound casual in his approach, but he means every word he says and every note he plays
I Love Alex McMurray, Everybody's Favorite Songwriter-Back From TokyoOffbeat Magazine January 1, 2004
McMurray says that Banjaxed, the title of his first solo album, is Irish slang for being “frustrated or stymied via a fuckup, usually involving booze.”
McMurray admits that Banjaxed is a “little bit dreary,” and, at times, it is. “Effortless Binge” is standard Alex McMurray fare, but like most of his solo album, it is a bit more vulnerable, both lyrically and musically, than his previous efforts. I typically shy away from songs that include holidays/neighborhoods/themes that are exclusive to New Orleans, but McMurray’s “The Day After Mardi Gras Day” is the most accurate description of the empty feeling that creeps in immediately following Fat Tuesday I’ve ever heard.
Circle Bar performance Reviewliveneworleans.com February 4, 2004
Alex McMurray is the singer/songwriter soul of New Orleans. Proof is in the love he was showered with when he returned from a sojourn.
First, he left us for a year-long stint in Japan and returned to a welcome home party at The Circle Bar. Next, he spent all of last month in New York City playing in French dives and having surgery on his lungs for an undisclosed illness.
All Music - Tin Men BioAll Music
All Music - Super Great Music for Modern Lovers - ReviewAll Music
The Tin Men trio of New Orleans should for sure not be mixed up with Tinmen, a house music mixing outfit, or T.I.N. Men, a rock band that made one album in the late '90s. Putting aside the small pile of tin entirely, few groups have a sound as nifty as this one.
All Music - Royal Fingerbowl BioAll Music
With just one inexpensive demo tape, Royal Fingerbowl, a trio from New Orleans, attracted the attention of a New York record company. They've been hailed as one of the best bands to come out of New Orleans since the early-'90s emergence of Better Than Ezra...
All Music - Happy Birthday Sabo ReviewAll Music
The graveled voice and equally dirty guitar work of Alex McMurray puts grit into this pawn shop fingerbowl. Several different horns, organ and accordion, mostly...
All Music - Greyhound Afternoons ReviewAll Music
Alex sits in with "Iris May Tango" - Review of showliveneworleans.com
Alex McMurray filled in for guitarist Rene Dufourc, ... Hopefully, McMurray will be a permanent addition.
Tin Men - Freaks for Industry review - Off Beat MagazineOffbeat Magazine
Only in New Orleans could an album featuring jazz guitar, washboard, and tubaand those instruments only, save for an occasional short-order cooks order up! bellbe most notable for its songwriting
Royal Fingerbowl - Skippers Smokehouse reviewGroovewell.com
McMurray, a New Jersey native and 13-year resident of the Crescent City, may come off as a boozy, degenerate goofball, the very definition of a class clown gone dissolute, a cut-up given to nonstop drinking and smoking as he crawls his way across the nightscape.
But that might not explain the resonance of the quirky cast of characters he's created, or the musical appeal of the eclectic settings given to his collection of story songs, given life by a singer variously reminiscent of Tom Waits and Louis Armstrong. McMurray wields a mean Gibson ES 335, too.