Michael Martin Murphey is a multiple Grammy Award nominee and an inductee into the Western Music Hall of Fame. If you have not seen this American music legend in person, now is your chance.
The singer-songwriter performs his “Cowboy Christmas Tour” Thursday (Dec. 21) at Holy Angels Mission Church at 42 Westridge Road in Angel Fire. The show is at 7 p.m. As of press time, some tickets were still available. Advance purchase is strongly recommended. Call (575) 377-3332 or visit outhousetickets.com/Event/Event9735.
Beyond the spotlight of national fame, Murphey is still considered a local to this area. Over the years, he has lived in Taos, played at Taos Mesa Brewing and created the Rockin’ 3M Amphitheater in Red River for his chuck wagon shows, among numerous other contributions and appearances to the local region.
His press agent confirms that in 2018, Murphey will be part of an exhibit paying tribute to the early days of the Austin, Texas, music scene at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee.
As a working cowboy on his ranch, Murphey passionately advocates for cowboy culture and environmental stewardship of grasslands to sequester carbon.
Tempo spoke with Murphey by phone while he was touring Texas. “I’ve been in and out of Red River and Taos for most of life,” he said. “I first came to Red River when I was 5 years old. We went to Taos Pueblo and saw the dance and I never forgot it.”
One of the other memories that Murphey holds dear is the Taos blizzard of 1990. “My 1991 Christmas album was inspired by it. It’s in the liner notes,” he said. “The blizzard completely knocked out all the power in town for three days. We went back to an old-time Taos Christmas. We lit our fireplaces, candles and oil lamps. We told stories. Somehow, we felt closer to Christmas that year.”
For the past 24 years, Murphey has toured the holiday season with his “Cowboy Christmas Tour.” The scheduled performances are typically benefits for churches, museums and cultural centers. Murphey’s press materials note that “there is a special relationship the Christmas story has to rural communities, farmers and ranchers.”
Indeed, Murphey himself has his own real relationships in this area. Years ago, he met Tom Germscheid through mutual friends in Taos. Germscheid has lived in Black Lake near Angel Fire since 1993, where he breeds and trains horses. He turns 85 soon and still rides. As a devout Catholic, Germscheid worked with others to compile a study of the Catholic needs in the Moreno Valley, presented to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, and raised enough funds to have the Holy Angels Mission Church built. That effort began in 2007. By 2014, the church was consecrated.
Archbishop of Santa Fe Michael Sheehan “knew the area. He used to come up to Angel Fire for skiing,” Germscheid said.
During the initial fundraising period, Murphey performed concerts to have the church built. The church was built in a contemporary alpine style by John G. Rheders General Contractor Inc. of Santa Fe. Wheeler Peak (the highest peak in New Mexico) is visible through the church windows. The cushioned pews seat 300 and are curved, bringing worshipers closer to the altar.
“Michael is doing this concert to help us pay off the mortgage,” Germscheid said. “We’re a small-town church.”
When asked about how this church concert with a highly sought-after musician came to be, Germscheid explained, “He happened to be driving by our place. He stopped in to say howdy, update on life and asked about an update on the church. He volunteered to help out.”
Murphey points out that the “Cowboy Christmas Tour” is not about religion. “I love seeing people participate in spirituality, charity and looking inside themselves. I haven’t been contacted to perform at a Buddhist temple, but I would,” Murphey said.
Tickets are $75 for VIP seating, $55 for adults, $40 for youth and free for those under 6. For more information, call (575) 377-3332.