Last night, I went to hear JIM HURST, IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) Guitarist of the Year. That means he is a fast-pickin’ guy. “Bluegrass,” like few other labels, can lock you in. The people who love and adore it who are more on the “traditional” side (Has to be like Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs played it or it ain’t bluegrass) will leave you for growing, experimenting and deviating. The rest of the music listening world (Country, whatever that is anymore, sheesh!), folk, indie, etc. is disinterested because they never get beyond stereotypes like “Deliverance” and the Beverly Hillbillies.
Truth is, “bluegrass” is an incredible and diverse hodgepodge of music with deep traditions and respect for that tradition, but with all kinds of edgy innovators, pushing, blending and widening its road and audience. Who else can claim Ricky Skaggs, Tony Rice, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, Chris Thile, Noam Pikeltny, the Kruger Brothers and David Grisman (and originally Jerry Garcia!). If you don’t know these folks, just Google and enjoy them.
To that list, I add Jim Hurst. Jim is a finger-pickin’ wonder. He plays blues at high-octane speed, notes flying everywhere, and sounds coming from his Jim Hurst model Gallagher guitar that you swear must be a recording behind him. It is a feast to the listener. A halfway decent crowd, including a lot of local pickers who know about Jim, who teaches at lots of camps and workshops, were there to hear the 59 year old former truck driver.
Jim is a person who is humble and real. No arrogance and pretense. Maybe that comes from being so dang good. But he’s comfortable with who he is and he likes the audience. I always look for that. It’s more like sitting at his house than being in a club. Who he is comes across in the terrific songs he plays. We heard a great set, ending with his lead cut from his new CD, “Intrepid,” “Long and Lonesome Old Freight Train.” (Take a listen) He makes mmore train sounds come out of a guitar than I ever heard before.
A nice, smooth singing voice, real, not so affected, not nasal as you sometimes expect in bluegrass. His music channeled Chet Atkins, Tony Rice, Jerry Reed, and a lot of others. Renowned for years for playing with Clair Lynch’s Front Porch Band, Jim is launching out on his own at 59. He deserves good luck and a lot of audience. Hope you get to hear him.
I laughed my head off at “Gadget Daddy”. For you engineers, fix-it yourself dudes and people who work on whatchamacallits, this song is for you. Click to listen
http://www.jimhurst.com is his website