Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Songs of summer

James McMurtry and Josh Ritter are on the musical roster this week

Express Staff Writer

Josh Ritter is fulfilling a concert dream many had last year by returning to the valley Sunday, July 27, after the Beaver Creek Fire forced him to cancel his show here last summer.
:Photo by Laura Wilson

    In a case of the do-overs, two concerts are coming to town this week. One is a show you likely wished you’d seen if you missed it last year, and the other is a second chance for a show canceled last summer because of the Beaver Creek Fire.
    First up is James McMurtry, performing tonight, July 23, at 9 p.m. at Whiskey Jacques’ in Ketchum. Tickets are $10 online at or $12 at the door.
    McMurtry might be genetically predisposed to write, but he prefers putting his stories to music rather than into chapter books like his famous father, Larry. His poignant lyrics landed him the distinction of having written one of the best protest songs ever in “We Can’t Make It Here.” He’s also known as a spectacular stage performer.
    As stated in The Washington Post, “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.”
    The entertainer was raised on a steady diet of Johnny Cash and Roy Acuff records. His first album, “Too Long in the Wasteland,” was produced by John Mellencamp. McMurtry received a Grammy nomination for his long-form music video of “Where’d You Hide the Body.” For 1997’s “It Had To Happen,” he received the American Indie Award for Best Americana Album.
    For more on McMurtry’s music, visit

Josh Ritter to
play River Run
    The Sun Valley Center for the Arts 2014 Summer Concert Series continues on Sunday, July 27, with Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band. The show begins at 7 p.m. at River Run Lodge.
    Named one of the “100 Greatest Living Songwriters” by Paste magazine, Ritter is a talented artist and captivating performer. He sells out tours, earns amazing reviews and has made stellar albums and multiple radio hits his standard.
    Ritter’s last album, “The Beast In Its Tracks,” hit No. 22 on the Billboard 200 and No. 8 on the Top Rock Albums chart in 2013. In addition to commercial success, the album continues to receive widespread critical praise; NPR Music calls it “gorgeous and glorious,” while music review and commentary website Pitchfork asserts, ‘“Beast’ is contemplative and forgiving, a means of burying one relationship to commit to another, and Ritter nicely evokes the excitement and resignation of such a transition.”
    The Center had booked Ritter in August 2013, but was forced to cancel the show when smoke from the Beaver Creek Fire reached hazardous levels.
    After a year of anticipation, Center staff are particularly thrilled to welcome Ritter to Ketchum.
    “Josh Ritter always brings his ‘A’ game to his shows, but we know how thrilled he’ll be to be on our stage in particular,” said Kristine Bretall, director of performing arts. “Being a native Idahoan (born and raised in Moscow), he is always appreciative of playing for a ‘hometown’ crowd. If you’ve never heard him before, you will fall in love with his charm, his songwriting, and his genuine love of performing.”
    A fan favorite abroad, and soon to be here, no doubt, is the song “Idaho.”

All that love all those mistakes
What else can a poor man make?
So I gave up a life of crime
I gave it to a friend of mine
Something else was on my mind
The only ghost I’m haunted by
I hear her howling down below
Idaho oh Idaho

Wolves oh wolves oh can’t you see?
Ain’t no wolf can sing like me
And if it could then I suppose
He belongs in Idaho
Packs of dogs and cigarettes
For those who ain’t done packing yet My clothes are packed and I want to go
Idaho oh Idaho

Out at sea for seven years
I got your letter in Tangier
Thought that I’d been on a boat
Til that single word you wrote
That single word it landlocked me
Turned the masts to cedar trees
And the winds to gravel roads
Idaho oh Idaho
    Guests at the show should be aware of a new alcohol policy at River Run: Due to liability concerns, Sun Valley Co. will no longer allow outside alcohol at concerts. People should bring a photo identification if they would like to purchase alcohol on site. Sun Valley security will check bags and IDs. Picnics, however, are still allowed at River Run.
    Concert admission is $30 for Center members, $40 for non-members, and $20 for kids 12 and under. Early entry admission is also available, which allows entry 15 minutes prior to general admission; prices are $70 for members and $80 for non-members.

James McMurty at Whiskey Jacques’. Tickets are $10 online at or $12 at the door.
Josh Ritter at River Run. Tickets are $30-$80 through the Sun Valley Center for the Arts; visit or call 726-9491.


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