Described by Folkworks magazine as "One of the Top Ten Live Acoustic Male Singer-Songwriters in L.A." James Hurley's eloquent guitar, smooth voice, and masterful writing combine in a jazzy, bluesey, pop-folk that has been called "Americana, on-the-rocks....with a twist".
It began with a song. A Jimmie Rodgers song in particular (not the singing brakeman - the pop singer). The chorus was "Uh oh, I'm falling in love again, uh oh, uh oh...." I was three or four years old and I can remember singing that thing over and over...my folks were probably sorry I'd ever heard it! But that was when I awoke to music and song.
Then there was the music my parents had. Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Pass, Django Reinhart, and scores more...all represented in a sacrosanct archive of my Dad's called "The Records". Listening to music was an event. He'd carefully select what he wanted to hear, gently remove it from the jacket (taking care to touch only the edges) and place it on the turntable. Then he'd sit in his chair, lean back, and give the music his undivided attention. Nothing was ever said, but it was understood. This was important......Something to be savored, experienced, and respected...this was music.
One day some years later my mother answered a knock at the door. She opened it to a man traveling door-to-door attempting to sell, of all things....Accordian lessons. Well, my older brother was already taking trumpet and guitar lessons, and my younger brother wasn't even as big as the accordian, which left only me. So began a period of enforced musical training that very nearly ended my musical career before it began. I wrestled with that thing and tried to do as instructed for several months or so...even had a recital, at which I aquitted myself with neither humiliation or great distinction. But I don't remember ever particularly liking either the playing itself or the sounds I was making. My folks didn't argue when I told them I had no desire to continue with those lessons. I have to confess the accordian simply never captured my imagination.
Not long after this my mother told me and my brothers there would be "something we would want to see on TV tonight". That was Feb, 9 1964. She was right. I can remember thinking; "Why are all those people screaming?" and; "That guy in the back playing the drums looks like he's having the most fun"....So then I wanted to be Ringo.
Drums, drum lessons, a drum set...well, two out of three, anyway. The next school I attended had a music program, and they offered trumpet, violin, and....drums! I signed up and became one of two drummers at that school. Mostly what I recall is fat drumsticks, a rubber practice pad, and endless flams, paradiddles, and single and double-stroke rolls...and of course thinking "I wonder if Ringo ever had to do this?" At the once-a-week lessons I would get to spend one hour playing a real snare drum. The rest of the time was spent pounding on that not-very-gratifying practice pad. Eventually, my folks managed to come up with (how could they possibly have known!) the worst possible excuse for a drum set imaginable. The one thing it had in common with the iconic Ludwig set I lusted for, or the close-second Rogers set, was the fact that it was shaped like a drum set...the similarity ended right there. Cardboard shells, loose plastic heads, and cymbals like coffee-can lids produced a sound much like that of a kitchen disaster in a restaurant. I'll always love my folks for making the attempt, and I even tried to play in a couple "bands" with those sorry things....but those "drums" were just beyond redemption....Ahh well, Ringo's just going to have to go it alone.
During my school years, The Beatles, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Big Brother, Jefferson Airplane, Donovan and countless others filled the airwaves with new sounds every day. And it seemed all those sounds came from guitars! When I expressed an an interest in learning to play guitar my folks were probably relieved on several counts; Firstly, that would mean an end to instruments that cost too much and afforded no peace for the household. Second, there were already a couple guitars in the house (My brother had one, and my Dad, though he didn't play, always kept one in the house.) Third, money had already been spent in teaching my older brother Tom to play guitar, so he was enlisted to teach me at the rate of one dollar per hour...(I've never let him forget that :^)
Somewhere around the age of fourteen or fifteen I discovered the music of Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Loretta Lynn, Marty Robbins....what is today called "Old Country" or something to that effect. To me, these songs were stories I could get lost in...The imagery of Haggard singing "First thing I remember knowin', is a lonesome whistle blowin'..." completely captured my imagination. I could listen and watch as the entire movie played inside my mind. I think that's when I figured out that you could say things in a song that can't be expressed in language alone.
Fast forward a couple of years. I had gotten involved in rodeo in High School, and by 1974 I'd quit school to make my way traveling around the western U.S. competing in rodeos. One evening in October I was alone in my car, listening to the radio, waiting to compete the following day and over the airwaves came Led Zeppelin's song; "Stairway to Heaven". I remember being fascinated by the sounds, the way the song slowly unfolded, the enigmatic storytelling.....and then came THAT guitar solo....When it was over I just shut off the radio and thought about what I had just heard. That was a big moment for me. The following day, as luck would have it, I was injured during the rodeo. A broken hip and some subsequent complications ended my budding rodeo career in roughly 7 1/2 seconds. A week or so later, back at my Dad's house, flat on my back, trying to find something to keep myself distracted, I found that guitar he'd always kept in the house. Looking back I realize it was a fairly good quality classical style (nylon string) guitar that had been through countless moves and three growing boys. But it still had all six strings and a pleasing sound so I started "messing around" with it. A day later I'd written my first "proper" song...That guitar became my closest friend, and though I don't know what became of that particular instrument, I've never been without a guitar since....Thank you Dad!