James McMurtry,
J.R.'s Dickson Street Ballroom,
Fayetteville, Arkansas
(19 November 1998)

James McMurtry ended the current leg of his Walk Between The Raindrops Tour by giving it all he had at J.R.'s Dickson Street Ballroom in Fayetteville, Arkansas. McMurtry is a performer who chooses to let his amazing songwriting ability do all of his talking for him. In a show that lasted 105 minutes, the only comments he made directly to the crowd of hard-core fans were "Y'all OK out there," "Yee-haw," "I'd like to thank y'all for comin' out tonight" and "Thank you. Goodnight."

But that was okay with this crowd of fans because he gave them everything they wanted and expected.

With no opening act, McMurtry had the show to himself, opening it with "Fuller Brush Man." After the phrase "It's lost in history," he stops singing for a couple of counts. That was long enough for a female fan to let out the first scream of the night.

After a couple of more songs, including "Poor Lost Soul," he changed to his acoustic guitar for a few, including "Vague Directions" and "Rachel's Song." The band was really cookin' on the latter; McMurtry was backed up superbly by drummer Daren Hess and Ronnie Johnson on bass.

It was after the fifth song that cries from the crowd started coming for "Levelland," and it was after the sixth song that he removed his trademark hat for the rest of the evening. Then he sang "For All I Know."

Though he was touring in support of his widely-acclaimed new CD, Walk Between The Raindrops, he played for forty minutes before doing a song from it. Then he did three in a row -- "Fast As I Can," "Every Little Bit Counts" and "Comfortable" -- before returning to earlier material with "Talkin' at the Texaco," which was a huge crowd favorite. Getting back to the new CD he sang "Racing to the Red Light," then rewarded the great audience with "Levelland" and three other classics, including "Safe Side" and "I'm Not From Here."

He next did the rockin' "Airline Agent" (my personal favorite from the new CD) and this brought dancers to the front of the stage where they stayed for the set's final number, "Too Long in the Wasteland."

During the encore he sang "There ain't no dark 'til somethin' shines." On this night it was James McMurtry shining brightly on the stage at J.R.'s Ballroom.

[ by Bill McCloud ]

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