I was sitting here minding my own business listening to some music. A patron of mine walked into my office to take care of some library business and then stayed a while to chat. I noticed her looking at my iPod which was plugged into my computer but not actually playing at the time. Gesturing at it, she asked what the last thing was that I had been listening to. I had to think for a second because I had been alternating between my two favorite clawhammer banjo players- John Balch and Adam Hurt. As I was humming Old Dangerfield, I figured it must have been Adam Hurt and so I said “Adam Hurt.” She didn’t know his music at all so I told her all that I could remember about him and sent her on her way to go check out one of his CDs from our collection.
Adam Hurt was born into a musical family in St Paul Minnesota. As the son of classical musicians, Adam learned to read music and play piano at an early age. It was not until he was in the fourth grade though that Adam first heard old time and bluegrass music. (This should be a great example of why it is important to have music education in our schools!) One of his teachers brought in several acoustic instruments to introduce acoustic music to the kids and lucky for us, these instruments really “struck a chord” with Adam.
Mandolin and clawhammer banjo seemed to resonate with him and in 1994 his parents bought him his first banjo and found him a teacher. His teacher taught him how to play banjo, but more importantly taught him to listen and play what he heard inside. In terms of playing style, Adam likes and is heavily influenced by the “round peak style” of Tommy Jarrel, Fred Cochrane and Kyle Creed but I don’t know that I would say he exactly plays in that style- you can definitely hear it in there though!
Adam Hurt has entered, competed and won at various fiddler conventions, most notably Galax, Clifftop and Mt Airy. His attention and respect for tradition is obvious but it is his innovative ways of playing the old songs that really attracts me. Earlier I mentioned that I was humming Old Dangerfield and I have never heard that song played by anyone else on clawhammer banjo, actually I have never heard anyone other than Bill Monroe play it.
The songs on this album are mostly familiar to me but Adam’s treatment of them makes them seem new and exciting. I *really* like this album and think you will too. A few highlights for me are:
Old Dangerfield– As I mentioned, I have only heard this done by Bill Monroe so Adam’s treatment of this song is very interesting and exciting to hear.
June Apple– I know this song very well but have never heard it played like this. It is innovative and respectful of tradition.
Hell Among the Yearlings– A great old tune I always enjoy!
Give it a listen!
Insight [sound recording] / Adam Hurt