Interview - Monterey County Weekly

Posted April 09, 2009 12:00 AM Bull Bearing James Hurley found his career with the help of a Salinas rodeo accident. By Stuart Thornton After sifting through ample biographical data and conducting an in-depth interview, I’ve determined that there were two instances in James Hurley’s life that led him towards his career as a popular Los Angeles based singer/songwriter. (Hurley was named one of Folkworks Magazine’s Top 10 Live Acoustic Male Singer/Songwriters in L.A. for 2008.) The first incident occurred back in Hurley’s teenage years, when he dropped out of Salinas High School and tried to make it as a professional bull rider. At a competition in Don Pedro Lake, California, Hurley went down and the bull stomped on him, breaking his left hip. “I wrote my very first song a week after I got back from the hospital,” he says, “and I’ve been writing ever since.” That’s how Hurley embarked on a path towards being a musician, but it was a few decades before he decided to take the singer/songwriter route. After being in bands including the instrumental acoustic group Zeetrio and Los Angeles’ Riff Raff, which Hurley says did “aggressive rocking music with serious sexual undertones,” he threw in the towel on that life with the 2002 split of the James Hurley Trio. The guy bounced back by grabbing an acoustic guitar and doing two solo songs at a Lake Havasu City, Arizona coffee shop’s open mic night. It was a revelation. “This is easy,” Hurley says. “I didn’t have to wait for the drummer to show up. That was the beginning of the singer/songwriter thing.” Out on his own, Hurley has three CDs of original material that include songs like the bluesy acoustic number “One Man Woman” and “Jealous of the Moon,” a spare acoustic track in the tradition of The Beatles’ “Blackbird.” Thanks be to bull-broken hips and hip open mics.