Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

July 7, 2013

Murphy unchanged by successful career

ASHLAND — Landau Murphy Jr. has performed on many great stages in the two years since he won “America’s Got Talent,” although he says success hasn’t changed who he is.

“I’m still loving it. I would still be doing this even if not professionally,” the smooth-singing vocalist from Logan, W.Va. said while watching black clouds roll into the skies over Central Park on Saturday. Murphy said the television show, with an audience in excess of 15 million viewers, “was the stage I needed ... otherwise I’d still be washing cars,” he said with a laugh.

Even with rain pelting down hard at times, several hundred fans came to watch Murphy perform at the bandstand. They came early and hunkered down under umbrellas in anticipation of watching Murphy, who recently sold out two shows at the Paramount Arts Center.

“Landau is going to pack them in here tonight,” said Summer Motion President Cade Mahan. “It will probably be one of the largest crowds ever at the bandstand in Central Park.”

Mahan was probably correct even with the rain that did finally stop when Murphy took the stage. There were still some sprinkles but nobody seemed to care as the crooning Murphy delighted the audience with hit after hit..

“It’s good to be back here again performing for the great people of Kentucky,” Murphy said, adding he appreciates that his fans still enjoy big band music and tunes from The Great American Songbook.

Murphy smiled as he described his fans as “great grandchildren with their great grandparents,” and explained he hopes “to give just a little bit of positiveness,” to people who attend his performances.

Before a late-afternoon shower sent musicians and technicians scrambling for cover, Murphy and his band members took advantage of an opportunity for a quick rehearsal and sound check and jumped into the afternoon with a surprisingly tight rendition of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” As people in the park noticed the familiar sounding vocals and made their way toward the bandstand, Murphy and band launched into the Dean Martin classic “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head.” Murphy sang a few lines from “Strangers in the Night,” before calling upon the musicians to play “Mustang Sally,” in order to give their guitarist a chance “to warm his fingers up.”

Roughly halfway into the song made famous by Wilson Pickett, however, the black clouds which had been slowly creeping toward the park unleashed their collective precipitation, sending the stage crew scrambling with coverings for the equipment.

Making the most of the bad weather, Murphy joined a pick-up game at the nearby basketball court, smiling and laughing as he hustled for rebounds along with the rest of the crowd.

Watching from folding chairs a few rows away from the stage, Josh and Tammy Potter of Ashland sat with five family members and enjoyed the action on stage.

“I just think he’s got a good voice and puts a lot of heart and soul into it,” he said, later adding they would likely be considered among the singer’s younger fans.

A few feet away, Richard and Dianna Allen of Ashland said they were there to hear the band Against the Grain, although they also wanted to support Murphy as they would any talented artist from the area.

“We were cheering for him when he was on TV,” he said, adding “We love Summer Motion. We come every year.”

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.

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