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2024 GIGS AND RECORDING PROJECTS
2023 was a monumental year for me as a musician. I performed more ‘live’ dates than ever before in any given year. 104 performances. Can I match that in 2024? I hope so. While many think of how much fun it must be to play music all of the time, they are correct. BUT the key thing to it all is that performing all of the time is hard work. Yes, it is exhilarating, and I love talking to people and telling my stories, but again, it is hard work. A two-hour gig is actually a 4-hour gig. Packing the vehicle, driving to the day’s location, unpacking and setting up my gear. For a two-hour gig I usually play straight through with no breaks. Then I break down and load my vehicle back up, drive home and unpack. A 3-hour gig 45 miles away can be a 6-hour adventure. ALL COMPLAINING ASIDE….I am working steadfastly on three separate recording projects. I have just completed The Avocado Sessions Part Two - Raw Fingerpicking and Slide Guitar. This is being released in February. More on that if you click here. My second project is Funky Blue. A jazz-oriented follow up to my 2022 acclaimed release Diddle. I am five-eighths of the way through with it. Well, I’d say half way through. I have the cover completed and a little more than half the music recorded. My 3rd project is a collaboration between vocalist Joshua Lucero and myself entitled … well, I haven’t found a title yet but it might just be, The Murphy / Lucero Project. It features eight original compositions sung in both English and Spanish. We are nearly half way through this project. I am especially excited about this. While I may not perform more than 104 dates this year, I will release three separate recording projects. How about that?
The Avocado Sessions - Raw Fingerpicking and Slide Guitar
Blues Salad - Part Two is an extension of Blues Salad, The Avocado Sessions - Part One which is available here. The Avocado Sessions - Blues Salad Part Two - Raw Fingerpicking and Slide Guitar is very primal. I think that’s what I like best about it. There are no frills. There are moments with some natural distortion on a few cuts where the mic was over-driven. It’s perfectly fine. A couple of cuts like the Strollin’ Blues, Baby Gone and Left Me, and Hello were recorded in the El Paso Library during my 2013 library run. I performed in all of the libraries in town. The Killin’ Blues and Almost Took My Life were recorded on the living room floor of a Syracuse, NY apartment during a period of time when I was waiting for back surgery. They were performed on a Sears Silvertone children’s acoustic guitar I borrowed from my sister-in-law. Margarita, named for my wife and not the drink,is a little instrumental I wrote back in the day tuned to the key of ‘E’. I think it was recorded in Steve Lloyd’s Screaming Skull Studio in Syracuse. Anyway, I'm pretty excited. Part Two is also very interesting to me for this reason. With the use of ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (lalal.ai) I was able to revisit some of my older recordings mentioned above from the 70s and 80s. Where my fingerpicking was pretty decent, my vocals were not. Artificial Intelligence allowed me to remove my old vocals and redo them. It's incredible really. For instance, the first cut, The Train Song was written on November 17, 1977. It was recorded in Chillicothe, Ohio at The Recording Workshop. I was attending a six-week program learning how to record. I borrowed somebody's 12-string acoustic. I recently added the bass, snare, shaker, and new vocals. The guitar picking is the original track from Chillicothe. In the lead section of this original picking piece I have attempted to create the sound of a train speeding it's ass down the railroad tracks to New Orleans. You can listen to bits and pieces here. It is a continuation of the 2920 Sessions recorded at El Rancho Pequeño in El Paso, TX.
The name Diddle comes from just what you might imagine: the act of diddling around: loosening up, freelancing, just letting go, and most importantly, having fun. A huge thank you to bassist Curt Bushaw, keyboardist Ruben Gutierrez and saxophonist Frank Zona.
For the past three years, award-winning singer/songwriter, author and artist James Robert Murphy, AKA Austin Jimmy Murphy, has ventured off his well-beaten bluesy folk path he successfully traversed for decades and veered toward the less familiar, more complicated and syncopated rhythmic path of jazz. “It was a personal challenge that I accepted. It was a mental and physical strategy. An ultimate challenge. No doubt, you can write a million songs using the three chords that so many hit songs use. I’d accomplished that many times over. But I wanted to face the biggest musical challenge a bluesy folksy musician can face. Creating tight jazz and funk rhythms laced with memorable melodies and sincere lyrics.”
Diddle: Instrumental Jazz Sessions came to life at the same time I released Blues Salad: The Avocado Sessions Part One. I am writing all of the time - every day. I always work to create something new. Something that hopefully won't be compared to something, or someone else. I find a rhythm and alost magically a theme comes to mind and off I go. The reality of it is, it doesn't take me long to create a number of new songs. Diddle borrows a couple of instrumental pieces from my release Jazz: The 2920 Sessions and Park North. From that point I knew I only needed a few more instrumental pieces to complete the project so I got to work and penned Devil's Tower, Hondo Pass, Brookside Drive, and I Won't Have It. It's magic. I'm not kidding.
BLUES SALAD, Part One of the Avocado Sessions is now available
Featuring select cuts from my award-winning 4-CD box set, A History of Blues.
My goal with the Avocado Sessions is simple. To filter through the 4 CDs that make up my SAMMY-winning (Syracuse Area Music Award) 2012 release, A History of Blues, into their common threads. Meaning, in this instance, songs that feature the harmonica work of legendary harp player Tom Townsley. Tom is featured on 7 of the 10 songs. All of the selected songs on Part One are studio versions of songs with a band performing. All but one, Saint James Infirmary Blues, are original songs. Also featured on Part One, drummer extraordinaire Mark Tiffault, Hungry Larry Stringer, T. A. James, and Paul LaRonde play bass, the incredible George Rossi on piano, and Frank Grosso and John Kane play the horns on I Ain't Got No Money. Part Two (coming soon) will be songs that only feature vocals and guitar or instrumental guitar pieces - solo material. Part Three will consist of duo work - songs that feature vocals, guitar and harmonica (bringing to light Syracuse's other extraordinary harmonica players). While A History of Blues as a whole is a powerful collection of artists and musical stylings, I like the idea of grouping and releasing these stylings into separate collections. Click on the link below to listen to the cuts and make your purchase. Thank you for your support.
Park North: The 2920 Sessions - Available Now by clicking the CD cover or visiting Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon, Pandora, and Deezer. You can LISTEN by clicking on the CD cover.
Let's start with a quote from my friend Mike Gienapp from Germany - “That is totally different from anything I have ever heard from you. First of all, really good musicians. It sounds very clean, very smooth and very intellectual." Thanks Mike. More quotes are available on the 'Buy Here' page. Park North is a continuation of recording sessions held in El Paso, TX at mi pequeño rancho in an area known as Park North. This was a very important project for me. Instrumentals like Stone Edge, Run Johnny, and Scionti were personal challenges that took me down an unfamiliar musical path. For the great majority of my career I have based my songwriting toward fingerpicking blues, your standard blues stylings, Americana and country. Now, at this point in my career, as a personal favor to myself, I wanted to learn a new genre and I think Park North, my 2nd venture into jazz, is a fair representation of where I am heading. The reviews have been very welcoming. Of course, I have been able to work with some of El Paso' finest musicians, including pianists Ruben Gutierrez and Billy Townes, bassist Curt Bushaw, saxophonist Frank Zona, blues guitarist Pat 'Guitar Slim' Chase, and a young jazz/opera singer from Juarez, MX, Joshua Lucero.
Jazz: The 2920 Sessions - Available Now by clicking the CD cover, or visiting Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon, Pandora, and Deezer. You can LISTEN by clicking on the CD cover.
To sum this project up, our guest saxophonist Frank Zona states, "Sometimes you have to jump into the deep end of the pool." Jazz, according to some, is an educated genre of the musical spectrum; certainly not for everyone. Perhaps more suited for those with an elite edge. Those who seemingly exist above the fray. It is said that the complexity of jazz is difficult for many to understand. Only those who emanate ‘cool’ and ‘sophistication’ are truly able to grasp its full meaning, and are able to catch the purity of the rather obvious vibe. Of course, this can't possibly be true. Otherwise, this project would not exist.
But what is the key to jazz music? Is it a beautiful chord progression based on the indelible theme, or is it the abstract, dissonant chord progression that seems to lack any coherency at all? Does it swing or does it agitate? Is it simple or have the intricate pieces of the puzzle been so neatly arranged that your imagination ignores its difficulty, and in-turn, appreciates its subliminal beauty?
In Jazz: The 2920 Sessions, we have committed all of the above crimes. We have placed the ingredients into a wooden bowl and commenced to do a little stirring. One cup of clarity, 1/2 cup syncopation, 1/2 cup rhythm, 1/4 cup of imagery, 1/4 cup complexity, 1/4 cup smooth butter, 1/8 cup of border spices, a dash of mantra, meditation, imperfection, and magic. Baked for 365 days at a barely measurable heat. Cooled for 30 days and sliced it into 10 pieces. Enjoy.
The Way Things Used To Be - KTEP's Folk Fury host Dan Alloway review: "Austin Jimmy Murphy is no stranger to the blues. He founded the NYS Blues Festival and since coming to El Paso he has held court over several monthly blues Jams. His newest release, The Way Things Used To Be, is a little bit different than the way most of his songs used to sound. There is still an element of the blues in his playing but the music on the new CD falls more into the Americana category. In fact, they predate the Americana genre. Jimmy reaches into his back catalog for songs from his past and brings them back to life. This collection of tunes has sort of a laid back feel to them. The lyrics are heartfelt and reflect a simpler time. There are a few Honky-Tonk tearjerkers such as My Drinking Days Are Over andMy Heart’s On Fire. Some of the songs possess a folk-like quality to them. His medley of Amazing Grace/Will the Circle Be Unbroken starts out as a slow blues and segues into an almost bluegrass/barrelhouse/second line strut number, if such a thing even exists. Although the songs have a full band accompaniment, Jim’s guitar playing is upfront and foremost. His picking is as always superb and his rough-hewn vocals are chock full emotion. Listening to this CD, one can almost conjure up an image of sitting on the front porch with Jimmy picking while watching a desert sunset.
Murphy states: There was a time when I hitchhiked back and forth across the United States for a decade or more - wandering, searching for my soul, with no need to be anywhere in particular at any particular time or day. Lyrically and musically the 11 original songs on The Way Things Used To Be are simple songs with heartfelt stories and melodies. If you have a passion for a waltz or two, and good-ol' down-home music, you will love this project. Wonderful love songs that I know you will all be able to relate to. These recordings are from the 2920 Sessions held here in El Paso, TX. Go to my Music page for in-depth information and to purchase any song or CD you wish to. It is also available on Amazon.com, Spotify and elsewhere. Just search for Austin Jimmy Murphy. Thank you all.