The “Wildfire” singer-songwriter will be playing in Austin, Fort Worth, Waco, Wichita Falls, and five other cities in Texas on his 2004 Cowboy Christmas tour.
How would you define a “cowboy Christmas”? It’s a Western-style event that shows the country connection—and I’m not talking about country music, but about the landscape, the environment—with the original Christmas story. And it’s a celebration of the cowboy Christmas frontier dance that originated in Texas in the 1880’s.
What’s the history? There’s the cowboy aspect in the original Christmas story because Jesus was born in a stable, and the first people to get the news were men who were watching livestock, the cowboys of that era. And I’ve unearthed a lot of great stuff on the first cowboy Christmas ball. A New Yorker named Larry Chittenden inherited a ranch in Anson from his uncle, and when he came down to see it, he witnessed a wedding Christmas party attended by ranchers from all over Texas. He was so taken by what he saw that he wrote a whimsical poem called “The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball,” which became a song. And Anson has kept the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball alive for over a hundred years. We play there every year.
So now you’re upholding the tradition. Yeah, the mantle fell to me, I guess, because of my enthusiasm. When I was a kid, I dreamed of being a singing cowboy. I’ve gone through a lot of permutations of that, but as it’s turned out, I’m a traditional singing cowboy now and loving it. (Go to michaelmartinmurphey.com for a complete concert schedule.) STEPHEN SAITO