Christmas is a season of tradition, and no one knows that better than Michael Martin Murphey.   The iconic musician has worked diligently to keep alive the spirit of the first Cowboy Christmas Ball, a pure American tradition that began in Anson, Texas in 1885.

“The first time I came to the annual Cowboy Christmas Ball in Anson, Texas, where the community has celebrated the holidays with this event every year since 1934, I was floored that the community had worked so hard to keep it going,” Murphey said.  “I fell in love watching the older couples dance and the dances being passed on to the younger people.  It reconnected me to the tradition.”

Arriving in Anson, Texas on Christmas night, 1885, native New Yorker Larry Chittenden chronicled a dancing spectacle unparrelled in those days by composing the  rhythmic, rollicking lines of The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball, a six stanza verse that still remembered and anthologized many times in print and song.

Modeling a show after the annual Anson event, Murphey took the celebration on the road, and has over the past two decades, performed the ball in such prestigious venues as Bass Hall (Ft. Worth, TX), The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (Oklahoma City, OK), the National Hispanic Cultural Center Journal Theater (Albuquerque, NM) and The Performing Arts Center at Texas A&M University (Austin, TX).

“The Cowboy Christmas Ball is steeped in everything I hold dear of growing up in Texas at Christmas time,” Murphey said.  “All the old dances are here... the waltzes, the mazurkas, the Paul Jones, the Virginia Reel... all these dances are still done here.  The women make their own costumes and clothes and the men still wear string ties and frock coats.  It’s a family reunion of friends.”

“This is my favorite season of the year,” Murphey continued.  “We remember our fathers and mothers.  We celebrate our children and we treasure our friends and the many blessing given by our Lord.  It really brings out the very best in all of us.”


Michael Martin Murphey may never have a bigger radio hit than ‘Wildfire,’ but what he has done by preserving the heritage of the West is bigger than any hit song. He is a living monument and a lesson to us all.
— Storme Warren, Country Weekly Magazine
One of the best songwriters in the country.
— Rolling Stone Magazine

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