For much of the last 13 years, Tom Catmull has provided some of Missoula’s best barstool tunes. The appeal—and “appeal” may not be strong enough to describe Catmull’s considerable contingent of loyal fans—has, I think, as much to do with the singer-songwriter’s disposition as with his melodic compositions. Catmull’s just the sort of guy you want to have a beer with.
There are a couple examples of that approachable demeanor in this new must-have solo collection. After singing the Lyle Lovett-like “Getaway” to a 1998 University Theatre crowd waiting to see Greg Brown, a giddy-sounding Catmull pokes fun at his own nerves. In introducing “Don’t Let Her Get Down” before a sold-out Wilma Theatre crowd last year, he explains the song was a late request—“and when someone requests a song you know, well, you gotta play it.”
Those two tidbits are also telling of how this disc covers Catmull’s expansive Missoula career. The 11 tracks span 11 years and range from long-lost radio performances to opening slots on Missoula’s biggest stages. Many songs will sound familiar, but unlike Catmull’s other recordings. Rather, they sound exactly like you remember hearing them while sipping a Cold Smoke at Sean Kelly’s, pinot noir at The Keep, or whiskey at the Union Club, and for fans that’s exactly how it should be. (Skylar Browning)
Tom Catmull plays a CD-release show (although he’d prefer to call it an “Unveiling Shindig”) at Lake Missoula Cellars Saturday, May 24, at 7 PM. David Boone opens. $10.