HELP US KEEP REPORTING. DONATE TO ORLANDO WEEKLY PRESS CLUB.

Eccentrics brew in Fingerbowl stew 


Sapphire Supper Club, June 11, 1998

In April 1995, Alex McMurray conned the owner of the Dragon's Den, a small, intimate club in the French Quarter of New Orleans, into booking the first Royal Fingerbowl gig. McMurray, veteran guitarist of at least a dozen local bands, at last found himself able to perform songs he'd written himself -- backed by the rhythm section of bassist Andy Wolf and drummer Kevin O'Day.

McMurray's slightly twisted, amusingly bleak lyrics soon caught on in New Orleans and beyond. Last spring, Royal Fingerbowl released their first disc for TVT Records, "Happy Birthday, Sabo!" Wolf and O'Day (who was replaced this year by drummer/producer Carlo Ditta) provided Royal Fingerbowl with a perfect, relaxed jazz/blues accompaniment to McMurray's lyrical depictions of the off-center eccentrics native to New Orleans, from the big-spending smoothie of "My Money" to the recluse on the verge of a shooting spree in "Otis Goes Postal."

McMurray arrived in New Orleans from New Jersey and graduated from Tulane University with a degree in English. At the same time, he began immersing himself in the local music scene. Despite his degree, McMurray's lyrics aren't the highfalutin drivel commonly devised by self-proclaimed "wordsmiths." Instead, they're insightful vignettes of the lives of far less than ordinary misfits. Listening to Royal Fingerbowl is akin to reading a Charles Bukowski novel -- there's an intrigue with the underbelly of society, a fascination that can change from amusement to sorrow on the turn of a phrase or change of key.

There is a huge amount of wry humor and wit in a Fingerbowl set but also an equal amount of honest emotion. They can regale a crowd with the Ramone's "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker," then drop the mood dramatically with the melancholy original, "Ozona, TX." A Fingerbowl show is, without question, an enjoyable way to spend an evening. Even if McMurray's lyric's don't grab you, the band's spontaneity and interaction with the crowd are worth the ticket price alone -- but chances are it will take more than the drive home from the club to get the cast of twisted characters in McMurray's stories out of your head.


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues

Calendar

© 2020 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation