Saturday, July 30, 2011

Christophe and the Prairie Fire in POP 7-29-11

 Christophe and the Prairie Fire were featured in the July 7th issue of POP with the Norman Transcript. View the article on their site HERE.

July 29, 2011

Murdock and Prairie Fire set to scorch Deli

By Doug Hill The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Christophe Murdock has never been a musician bound by convention when it comes to blending genres.
He’s continuing that artistic irreverence with a new project called Prairie Fire. It includes himself on vocals and guitar, Isaiah Harrell on drums and Eddie Mercury on bass. They’re performing as the featured band 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, kicking off Universe City Open Mic night at The Deli, 309 White St. Admission is free.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Christophe said. “We’ll play a mix of punk rock, rockabilly and old school real country, not that radio s---.”
He was dodging the mid-afternoon July heat over a glass of cool, clear water while talking about his music. Based in Shawnee, Murdock spends a good deal of his creative energy in Norman because of the many venues and opportunities to play out here.
“This town has an amazing amount of talent,” he said. “And because of the college it’s constantly being replenished.” Murdock has been a presence on the local scene for nearly 15 years in several different bands and solo. He frequently plays in a number of joints along Main Street, including Michaelangelo’s, Bill and Dees and the Blue Bonnet Bar. These places schedule live music for their patrons to hear at little or no charge.
Since starting with a 12-string guitar in 1997, Murdock’s method of operation hasn’t changed significantly. Writing songs at an all-night gas station job, playing them at solo gigs and being a member of outfits such as Social Parasite and South Side Crazy Kids fill his resum√©.
“I used to try to keep my punk songs completely separate from the folk and country music,” he said. “And in the early 2000s started my band Mockingbird Lane.”
It was named after the street address of TV show The Munsters’ family abode and followed gothic, horror and punk themes. Even though he cut a 7-inch vinyl, 45 rpm record last year titled “Fear the Dead,” Murdock balked at my assertion that his songs tend toward the macabre.
“Songs like that and ‘Wolfs Head’ are about my personal demons and anger rising up, with me trying to force it down,” he said. “They shouldn’t be taken at face value even if there is zombie or werewolf imagery.”
He said “Fear the Dead is actually about stage fright and although he has been around violence all his life, his goal is to escape it not glorify it. Unfortunately in the life of a young American Indian troubadour, who bounces around mostly without a permanent address, anger that can breed violence is common. A recent West Coast tour included an incident in Sisters, Ore.
“I was on my way home and stopped at a gas station, minding my own business,” Murdock said. “After paying for fuel I came back outside and my truck was surrounded by cops. They asked if I owned the vehicle and if I was an Indian.” He affirmed both questions and the police told him it was illegal to drive a tribally tagged vehicle off the “reservation.”
Murdock truck is registered in Oklahoma through the Kickapoo Tribe. “They actually asked if I minded pulling the truck over behind another building where no one could see or hear us,” he said. “I told them I’d pull out of the way so people could get gas but where everybody can see and hear us.”
A couple of hours later Murdock resumed his journey home with a $300 ticket. After a heap of hassle the summons was ultimately dismissed when a Kickapoo Tribe attorney educated the Sisters police about a Supreme Court decision governing the matter. Fortunately, from such frustration songs are often born.  
Murdock has many influences but none greater than his cousin Merle Kilgore (1934-2005). Kilgore managed Hank Willians Jr. and co-wrote “Ring of Fire” with June Carter Cash. He also penned “Wolverton Mountain,” “Johnny Reb” and “Fast Talking Louisina Man,” all made hits by other artists.
Murdock is reluctant to bask in the glow of a relative but acknowledges his admiration for a man who always treated him like a prince.
“Whenever I spoke with Cousin Merle, he always made me feel like it was all about me,” Murdock said. “Kid Rock sang ‘I Saw the Light’ at Merle’s funeral, and I got to perform ‘Wayfaring Stranger.’” 

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