Interviews and Reviews

Update: David Morris - Bluegrass Today has Intrepid CD one of his top 6 CDs of 2012 !!!
Says David: "Jim Hurst: Intrepid. “Three Hands” Hurst (he can’t possibly play that way with just two) is, for my money, right up there with Tony Rice as bluegrass guitar royalty. All the evidence needed to back up that statement is right here on this gem of an album. It’s mostly Jim and his guitar, and occasionally his voice. Noting else is needed."

FEATURE REVIEW!
When I met Jim Hurst for the first time last summer, I was almost surprised to discover he has just two hands. He sure plays guitar like he has a couple of extras, using a blend of flat picking and finger picking to play bass lines, melody lines and support lines all at once.

That how-does-one-guy-play-that approach is on display throughout Jim’s new self-produced CD, Intrepid. For 12 of the 13 songs, it’s just him – one voice and one guitar – laying it on the line. “It’s kind of like a courageous leap of faith,” he told me the other day.

The stripped down production results in music that’s easy to listen to, but that makes you think without being preachy. Every time I play these songs, I “see” myself sitting in the dark, in front of a roaring fire, at my favorite cabin – even when it’s the middle of the day and I’m stuck in the middle of the city a couple of hundred miles away. That’s some powerful stuff.
 


"2010 marked a year of note for Jim Hurst. After playing for over two decades in bands or duets, he finally decided it was time to “express the musical efforts of Jim Hurst, for Jim Hurst ... for better or worse.”

“I don’t know why my desire to be loyal and the best ‘team’ player I could be was strong enough to delay my own personal musical efforts,” he says, “but it did.”

Yet Hurst cherishes those experiences playing with award-winning artists like Holly Dunn, Missy Raines, Trisha Yearwood, Sara Evans, Claire Lynch and Don Henley, as well as learning guitar techniques from greats like Tony Rice, Doc Watson, George Shuffler and Clarence White — and the finger-style playing of Merle Travis, Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed.


Jim Hurst did not title his new album Intrepid on a whim. As one of bluegrass music's most respected guitarists, he has journeyed in and out of string music traditions, welcoming any artistic challenge that came before him.
"It really reveals who I am in my solo shows," Hurst said. "A lot of promoters and event producers, they don't know what to expect unless you can hand them something that can provide a little perspective. I wanted the album to be as reflective as possible of my live solo show.
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Jim Hurst did not title his new album Intrepid on a whim. As one of bluegrass music's most respected guitarists, he has journeyed in and out of string music traditions, welcoming any artistic challenge that came before him.

"It really reveals who I am in my solo shows," Hurst said. "A lot of promoters and event producers, they don't know what to expect unless you can hand them something that can provide a little perspective. I wanted the album to be as reflective as possible of my live solo show.


A multiple-IBMA award winner and long time member of Claire Lynch’s touring band, Jim Hurst is one of the most versatile acoustic guitar players on the contemporary bluegrass circuit. Hurst augments his flatpicking with hints of Merle Travis, and Jerry Reed, bending and sliding until his notes take on an almost vocal quality.

As the title implies, A Box Of Chocolates is a sampler, the perfect showcase for Hurst’s versatility. There’s newgrass (“Chocolate Chaise Lounge”), gypsy swing (“Mando Bounce”), and swampy funk (“C5 A La Mode”). In addition to those solid originals, Hurst scats his way through “Nine Pound Hammer” and shows delicate restraint on the traditional “Mary Of The Wild Moor”.

Hurst’s list of guests is long and impressive – Sam Bush, Mark Schatz, Scott Vestal, Michael Cleveland, Viktor Krauss – and that barely scratches the surface.

Still, the most powerful moments on this album simply involve Hurst alone with his guitar.


Jim Hurst's sophomore solo album is a remarkably well-rounded disc filled with great singing, wonderful renditions of classic and contemporary tunes, and lots of hot picking by some of Nashville's bluegrass elite. Hurst was the International Bluegrass Music Association's Guitarist of the Year in 2001, but the revelations on Second Son are his stirring baritone voice and soulful delivery, as heard on songs like "Big Iron" and "The Long Road." Flatpick fanatics will love his solo on "Lonesome Road Blues" and the fiery fretwork he dishes out on "Stafford's Stomp" backed by pals Missy Raines (bass), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), and Tim Stafford (guitar). Second Son proves that Hurst is first class in every area. (Pinecastle, www.pinecastle.com)


On Open Window, his first solo CD, Jim Hurst surrounds himself with the best. For starters, Raines, of course, is here; the two fit each others’ styles like a matched set of sterling silver and fine china – simply elegant. Fred Carpenter provides some sharp, driving fiddle breaks, while the ever-tasteful Gene Wooten gives it up on the dobro and baritone harmonies on “17 Days.” Hurst comes in not only on guitar but also on banjo on this number, an original composition. Hurst’s guitar playing is showcased without flaw on his arrangement for solo guitar of Bill Monroe’s “Wheel Hoss,” not an easy feat for any lone instrument! He pulls it off and you’d swear you heard at least four other instruments playing. Hurst cites Jerry Reed as his “biggest influence” and hence his tribute, “Swamp Reed,” a
heady instrumental with Raines on bass, Rob Ickes, dobro, and Sam Bush kicking out mandolin chops.
Always a pleasure to hear on contemporary recordings is a Louvin Brothers song. “My Baby’s Gone” is a great one and the treatment Hurst gives it is picture perfect. Andrea Zonn contributes fiddle while Claire Lynch sings tenor to Hurst’s lead and baritone. An original instrumental, “Alarm Clock,” gets an interesting touch with Raymond McLain’s unique banjo style, in which he occasionally strays from three-finger bluegrass rolls to throwing in a frail or two. Hurst lets it all hang out here, jazzing up the house with his excellent guitar playing. “Crazy Locomotion Blues,” a Hurst
original co-written with Steve Hylton, is another prime example of why someone in Music City ought to grab this man and sign him to a major recording contract. His ability to put across a song effortlessly blends well with his rich, full country-style voice.

All-told, the entire CD contains a winning selection of numbers and appealing arrangements; six of the thirteen are originals by Hurst or co-written with Steve Hylton. More highlights are the swingy “This Old Guitar” from the pen of Jonathan Edwards, with its quiet hint of drums and Raines playing ever-so-tasteful bass. “A Minor Infraction,” an original instrumental, is filled with interesting mandolin and guitar patterns and fills. Hurst and Raines showcase their duo appeal on “The Pearl of Pearl KY,” an exquisite instrumental original. There is unbeatable depth to the gospel
“I Can Tell You The Time.” Here Claire Lynch sings tenor, Michael McLain, baritone, Sheaton Feazell, bass, with Hurst singing lead, alto and playing spare guitar accompaniment. “Tall Pines” again shows off Hurst’s bluegrass side on guitar and vocals with Vic Jordan offering up banjo, Keith Little playing mandolin, Bobby Hicks fiddling his smooth lines, Ben
Surratt donating baritone vocals and Raines rounding out on bass.

Don’t try to pigeon-hole this recording into one genre; it’s a heck of a great compilation of just what Jim Hurst and his
music are all about.

SPL - Sing Out! • Vol. 44 #3 • Spring 2000
© Jim Hurst 2012 - All Rights Reserved