The Southeastern Utah Energy Producers Association is bringing country music Western Hall of Fame member Michael Martin Murphey to its annual banquet Thursday. Murphey has become a favorite among energy producers in the United States.
The reason: even though he admits that alternative fuels must be explored, he contends that fossil fuels are still the bread and butter of American energy.
"Even though I have never worked in the energy field, I am frequently asked to perform for those who produce energy for a living," said Murphey in a phone interview this week. "Several of my tours have been sponsored by coal and gas companies, I guess because I have always been very positive about the business."
While Murphey strongly supports the use of coal, gas and oil, he also is a leader among those looking for other forms of energy in the western U.S. The musician owns a large amphitheater between Alamosa and La Veda, Colo., where up to 1,000 people can have dinner and see a live show under power produced entirely by solar and wind generation.
"Our site was off the power grid," he explained, "so we had to look for other ways to power the facility. But you know, I hate the phrase 'alternative energy.' Wind and solar aren't alternatives to fossil fuel power. They are just another form of energy."
Murphey went on to discuss the short fall in energy production provided by all wind and solar generation in America, stating that while the "alternatives" are a great asset, they are far away from ever being able to replace coal and gas.
"There is a lot of energy production in the west, however, western states are always on the cutting edge of wind and solar power," he continued. "Texas, where I'm from, is an oil state and it's on the cutting edge of some great new technology. Energy production as a whole is a major part of the western way of life."
From Murphey's perspective, advancement of clean fossil fuel technologies and responsible energy saving building practices are at the forefront of protecting the environment. The singer-songwriter is currently getting ready to build a home with insulating concrete forms which would be primarily solar powered. ICF homes use solid concrete forms to create the outer and interior structure of a residence. Because of the solid and airtight nature of concrete, the homes are much less expensive to heat and cool cutting down on the amount of energy needed to keep them comfortable.
"The environment has always been very important to me but what people have to realize is that there are pollutants which come from solar and wind energy as well," said Murphey. "The best way to protect our beautiful western land is to be responsible with our building practices. Cut down on waste and make sure our structures are heated and cooled efficiently as much as possible."
Studying and singing about the "western way" of life has been Murphey's passion over a long and impressive career. Murphey was a key figure in the birth of the progressive country music movement in the 1970s, working as figure in Austin, Texas's unique music scene. With a bevy of hits from "Wildfire" to "A Long Line of Love," Murphey has sold millions of albums and toured the world many times. He is one of country music's most respected songwriters working with the likes of John Denver, Kenny Rogers, Cher and the Monkees just to name a few.
"When it comes down to it, I'm just a guitar and banjo picker who appreciates where he comes from," he declared.