Young prodigy and step-dad release second CD

Cory Hurley
Published on July 16, 2014
James Murphy and his step-dad Barry Ellsworth are photographed at their home in Corner Brook on Tuesday, July 15, 2014. There will be a  CD launch at Village Music on Friday, July 18, 2014 for their latest CD “Closer Ties.”
Geraldine Brophy

It may seem a little silly to think of an 11-year-old as having matured and grown as a musician, but that’s just the case for James Murphy.

The Corner Brook boy with a natural knack for traditional music has been developing since the age of two, when he began taking a keen interest in his stepfather Barry Ellsworth’s music.

So the pair with very close ties have been honing their music together for years. It included a CD released in 2009 titled “Years Gone By.”

However, the younger Murphy takes on a far greater role in their latest CD, “Closer Ties.”

“It is really just a special CD,” Ellsworth said, praising the work of Gord Payne of Bayview Studio in Cox’s Cove.

Ellsworth takes the time to play a tidbit from a number of songs, pointing out the moments he really believes stand out in each song. However, he gets a twinkle in his eye during the verses in which Murphy takes over.

“Oh, Johnny Reid can look out,” he said in their kitchen with Murphy’s version of George Jones’ “Tennessee Whiskey” playing on his laptop. “He can hang up his guitar when this guy gets older.”

Of the 10 songs on the new album, there are two more covers — Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home” and Johnny Cash’s “Give My Love to Rose” — but the remainder are original.

Jeannie Ellsworth, Murphy’s mother, penned most of the songs — including the CD’s namesake “Closer Ties,” a song about the relationship between Murphy and Ellsworth. Ellsworth himself chipped in with a small bit of the writing. There is also a song written by Elaine Goosney of Norris Point.

The duo, who have now taken “Closer Ties” for their band name as well, have appeared together over the years throughout the Bay of Islands and western Newfoundland. Ellsworth has been OK with taking James into bars occasionally to woo the establishment’s clientele.

Sometimes they have had some trouble convincing the shy boy to perform, but when he does people are amazed, his step-dad said. They are taking on all kinds of bookings this summer — travelling throughout the region, along the Northern Peninsula and even some east coast gigs slated — and are looking forward to their first real tour of sorts.

Murphy, who did not have much to say during the interview with The Western Star, is happy to be touring and is pleased to have his second CD released.

There is also a lot to look forward to for the young boy who already believes he has a career in music ahead of him. He plays the guitar, accordion, foot pedals for bass lines and keyboard. Next up, a mandolin. Ellsworth believes Murphy will make it sing, with the way he has picked up guitar picking.

Murphy and Ellsworth will be having a CD launch at Village Music Friday starting at 11 a.m.