The faux campfire was blazing, bedrolls were tossed about the realistic rocks, and a snow-covered forest at dusk served as the backdrop as fans took their seats Monday at the Bass Performance Hall.
The Nutcracker? The Radio City Music Hall Rockettes? Hardly.
Christmas had come to the Bass as it always does, in the familiar and comforting form of Michael Martin Murphey and his Rio Grande Band of merry nostagic cowboys. Murphey mentioned from the stage that this is his 14th year to perform his Cowboy Christmas special at the Bass, which makes it a bona fide Cowtown tradition.
The intimacy and simplicity of Murpheys show has always been the reason that Fort Worth folks flock downtown year after year in their boots and jeans, reaffirming their heritage and values with his music and spoken-word presentation. As always, his nontraditional Christmas fare included the poem When Cattle Were Many and Folks Were Few and the Native American-style Magi song Corn, Water and Wood.
People with ranching roots and those with pipe dreams of an open range reveled in The Cowboys Christmas Ball, Christmas On The Line, and My Log Cabin Home in the Sky.
Longtime Murphey fans got a chance to hear his country hits A Long Line of Love, Whats Forever For, and of course Wildfire, which featured a wonderful keyboard solo by a young woman named Mei-Ling Felten, who was equally impressive on fiddle.
Even longer-term fans got a chance to hear Geronimos Cadillac, back from Murpheys Cosmic Cowboy days.
Most of Murpheys Christmas menu has been heard before (But then, so has The Nutcracker and Handels Messiah) but he weaves traditional carols, jokes, essays, poems and even hymns in with his material in different ways every year to keep it fresh and bright.
If you missed him this time around, keep a reminder note in your Christmas decorations for next year.