Friday, May 26, 2023

James McMurtry Plays ‘Red Dress’ in Drag to Protest Tennessee’s Anti-Drag Law

The Texas songwriter donned fishnets, pearls, and the titular red dress for his encore in Nashville

(Thanks to Velama fo this news link)

MAY 10, 2023

James McMurtry performed his
encore of "Red Dress" in drag
over a series of shows in Tennessee.

JAMES MCMURTRY took the title of his 2002 song “Red Dress” quite literally while playing a string of shows in Tennessee last week. The songwriter — one of America’s greatest living ones, at that — delivered his encore in Knoxville and Nashville dressed in drag to protest the state’s anti-drag legislation.

“When in Tennessee we will do our little bit for humanity,” McMurtry announced onstage at Nashville’s 3rd and Lindsley on Sunday after returning from an encore break wearing a red floral dress, lipstick, pearls, and fishnets. Prior to the quick change, the famously ornery Texan performed his set — broadcast live on Nashville’s Lightning 100 — dressed in his regular fedora and white shirt. But even then, he didn’t mince words about the current state of the country, where civil rights are being impinged upon daily, and there’s a perpetual preoccupation with America being “the best.”

McMurtry was having none of it. In the setup to his masterful “Canola Fields,” he told a story about touring across Canada with his band and being fascinated by a chartreuse crop growing near the highway. “But us being Americans, we didn’t stop to ask,” he said. “Because we know everything.” At another point, he wryly reminded patrons to tip their servers. “By that I mean start at 20 percent and go up like we do here in the United States. I know some of you might be visiting from developed nations where they pay servers a decent living wage and benefits,” he said. “Unfortunately, we have not developed that far here.”

Both his commentary and especially his drag routine are a way for McMurtry to subtly challenge his audience, lest they get too comfortable with a guy whose “medley of his hit,” as he deadpanned Sunday night when introducing cult favorite “Choctaw Bingo,” talks about cooking meth, shooting guns, and ogling second cousins in “cut-off britches.” “I’m a fiction writer,” he told Rolling Stone in 2021. “I just do it in verse, rather than prose, like my dad did.” (McMurtry’s father, the Lonesome Dove novelist Larry McMurtry, died in 2021.)

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