Thursday 21 June 2018, 7.30pm
"Hurley remains one of the elusive masters of American folk" – Billboard
A pleasure to welcome back to OTO the legendary singer, songwriter, artist, folk hobo Michael Hurley for his first shows here in half a decade. Hurley is a true American iconoclast and one of that country's songwriting greats. These are two nights not to be missed.
“Michael Hurley's music is often coined as "outsider folk." His hobo lifestyle indeed could be looked upon as eccentric, but it might be better to regard him as one of the last insiders keeping alive the traditions of the folk troubadour.” – Perfect Sound Forever
“There aren’t very many American originals left. Michael Hurley is one of them.” – Boston Globe
Michael Hurley grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. As a teenager in the 1950s he fell in love hearing the music of Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers and Bo Diddley blast from the radio, and was enthralled by the records of Blind Willie McTell, Hank Williams and Uncle Dave Macon that he sought for his own. This love for music, true and unvarnished, supplied him with a finely tuned musical compass he has not wavered from for 50 years and counting. Hurley's music sounds old, like it has always existed, and simultaneously singular, like something you've never heard anyone else play quite like that before. This timeless quality ensures that Hurley's audience constantly renews itself. From the the beatniks in the NYC Village where he started in the early 60s, to the hippies in Vermont, to the Americana fans, indie rockers and freak folkers from the last two decades, Michael's music never fails to find fresh new ears. Pressed for a description, Hurley has called it "jazz-hyped blues and country and western music".
Hurley's early records were released on Folkways, Warner Brothers/Raccoon, and Rounder, while in recent years stalwart independent labels like Gnomonsong and Mississippi have been carrying the torch. The great news is that there is no stopping Michael Hurley. An album with brand new recordings, Bad Mr. Mike, was released on the Mississippi label in 2016, plus another LP with archival 70s material came out on Feeding Tube Records in 2017. Besides being a truly unique musician, Hurley is also a cartoonist and watercolor artist of note — the instantly recognizable results of which grace his album covers.
Hurley resides on the US west coast near Portland, Oregon. His appearances on the British isles have been scarce the last decade. Old and new fans should not pass up the rare opportunity to catch Michael in action.
Billy Steiger was born in Howth on the 16th December, 1986. Now he plays the violin.
“Then he sat down by a pond and began to play a tune. As he played, the most extraordinary thing happened. One by one the fish in the pond began to jump out and fly about in the air. And what is more, they were all different colours and they were singing to the music.”
Patrick, Quentin Blake.
Tom Wheatley plays double bass:
- with Daniel Blumberg & Billy Steiger – HEBRONIX
- and electric bass with Seymour Wright & Billy Steiger – CYNTHIA
- with John Edwards – YOKE
- with Mark Sanders & Yoni Silver – NAX/XUS
- with Grundik Kasyansky & Yoni Silver – DENIS D'OR
and in other emergent and/or ancillary groupings.
Tom Wheatley lives in London.