How can you forget a name like Gurf Morlix? It’s one I’ve long heard and remembered in connection with his work as both guitarist and producer for Lucinda Williams. However, by the time I saw Lucinda live in concert, he was no longer in her band. Sadly, I’d also never connected to his solo career. Fortunately, I’m now quite thankful that a reader suggested I catch his local show at the Bluebird.
This show was an easy call for me since I’ve become quite fond of the more frequently occurring 9pm “pre-sale” shows at the ‘Bird that feature only a single artist. They are relaxed comfortable evenings with respectful audiences, and I’m home in bed by 11:15. Tickets for these shows are also sold off the normal grid for the regular in-the-round shows (i.e. 8am seven days before the show) which makes it much easier to compete with tourists from Iowa who are fighting for the limited seats the club has to offer.
As soon as I walked in the door on this Wednesday evening, I spotted the distinctively tall and grey-haired and bearded Morlix talking with a friend of mine and the one-and-only Buddy Miller. The site of Miller who often appeared playing himself on the Nashville TV show sure would have gotten those folks from Iowa quite excited!
Morlix took the stage just a few minutes after 9pm to a laudatory introduction. It was one of those “if you are not a fan now, you will be” spiels. But admittedly, after sitting through 90 minutes with Morlix, I can confess that our hostess was right since I now consider myself a Gurf fan.
With a primary reputation as a band lead guitarist preceding him, tonight we would see Gurf play only a single acoustic instrument. Although his playing was subtle with the focal intent more on his folky lyrics, it was obvious that he knew how to handle his instrument. If anything could be said about the way he played was that he sure made it look easy and he fluidly wasn’t missing any notes.
While not a great singer by any means, Morlix’s deep guttural voice was smooth, captivating and one that made you intently listen. As would be considered Bluebird-appropriate, he gave each song an introductory background which further induced the audience’s focus. Some tales were short, others were long, and we even got a few corny, but clever jokes.
The most interesting tales were the ones about his unfortunate heart attack and of his friendship with late Austin singer-songwriter Blaze Foley. Foley, who Morlix let sleep on his couch for several years, is the subject of a recent Ethan Hawke-produced film. This tragic figure was a talented man whose songs didn’t get their due until after his untimely death. Morlix played three Foley songs including “If I Could Only Fly,” which was a big song for Merle Haggard. This trio of songs was followed by “The Music You Might Have Made,” Gurf’s personal tribute to his old friend.
Morlix also played Warren Zevon’s “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner,” a song he heard many nights when he served as Warren’s touring guitarist. Zevon and Foley aside, Morlix in his own right is a fine writer and it was a treat to hear his originals, most of which came from his “latest, not last” release, 2017’s The Soul and the Heal.
For several songs, Morlix was joined on backing vocals by his friend, Canadian, but living in Nashville, recording artist Linda McCrae, who had been sitting in the audience.
On this cold wintery night in Nashville, Gurf Morlix provided a pleasant and highly-entertaining evening of music, and the intimate Bluebird Café was the perfect setting. Can you say “SHHH!”?
- Deeper Down
- Love Remains Unbroken
- Bad Things
- My Chainsaw
- 50 Years
- Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner (Warren Zevon cover)
- Clay Pigeons (Blaze Foley cover)
- If Only I Could Fly (Blaze Foley cover)
- Wouldn’t That Be Nice (Blaze Foley cover)
- The Music You Might Have Made
- Quicksilver Kiss
- This May Be the Last Time (The Blind Boys of Alabama cover)
- The Parting Glass (traditional cover)
Gurf Morlix—Vocals and Acoustic Guitar
Linda McRae—Backing Vocals