Adam Hurt – Inspirational Banjo Virtuoso Exclusive


Adam Hurt - Banjo Virtuoso

Adam Hurt, who is without a doubt one of the most ingenious traditional banjo players ever, talks about himself and his music with Paul Roberts.             


“What may appear to be rather basic melodies can in fact express unspeakable emotions and evoke the experiences of generations past.”

Adam Hurt

We can celebrate the exquisite tone he pulls out of his banjo. We can shout from the rooftops about his gorgeous musical arrangements. We can wax eloquent about the beauty, innovation and good taste that his music conveys. We can point to a whole lot of things. But, with Adam Hurt, as with other great artists, the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts. After all the well-deserved accolades and tributes have been credited to this awe-inspiring virtuoso, what we’re left with is simply one of the finest musicians to have ever graced the 5-string banjo.

Marcy Marxer shared her perspective of Adam Hurt’s music with me. Marcy, a pillar of the old-time music scene, is widely regarded as one of the top female flatpickers in the music business. She and her musical partner, clawhammer banjo maestro Cathy Fink, co-produced Adam Hurt’s CD, “Insight.”

Marcy Marxer:
“Adam Hurt is an innovator as much as he is a traditionalist. He’s got his own unique style.”

“I see talented people all the time. But every once in a while, someone is just over the top in terms of talent and what they choose to do with their talent, their intellect and intuition. And they come out with something that is just so remarkable and beautiful that it’s amazing. It leaves me almost speechless. And, that’s the case with Adam Hurt.”

“The only other time I ever heard that, in a young banjo player, was at a party in Boston years ago. There was a kid in the corner who was taking banjo lessons from Tony Trischka and he played so beautifully. I met him after he’d been playing for about an hour, and his name was Bela Fleck. That was before anyone knew who he was and he was phenomenal. I hadn’t seen another young talent like that - who was so amazingly brilliant - until I met Adam Hurt.”

Paul Roberts:
Tell us something about your early musical memories, influences and feelings about music?

Adam Hurt:

My mother was a minister and I remember from an extremely young age, two or three years old, being enraptured by the sound of the enormous pipe organ at her church.

This early fascination was somewhat of an impetus for starting piano lessons. My mom's organist recommended having that background if I wanted to someday play the organ. Given that my feet could not yet reach the organ's pedals, I clearly needed to start someplace else!

The piano was never my idea, but I was kept motivated for several years by the thought of someday moving on to the organ.

I sometimes wonder what might have come of this interest had I not discovered folk music.


Was there music happening in your family when you were growing up? Did other members of your family play? Relatives, friends, ancestors?


I grew up in a classical music-focused family. My father made his living playing violin with the Minnesota Orchestra and conducting private violin lessons at home. My mother was an amateur, but dedicated, pianist. I was surrounded by those sounds and by positive attitudes toward “formal” music throughout my childhood. Even though classical music ended up not being for me, I feel fortunate to have been given an appreciation for it early on.


When I began playing folk music it took my parents - my father in particular - some time before they seemed comfortable admitting that this was quality music too.


I think so many musicians who come from formal backgrounds have a hard time fitting “informal” music into their usual boxes. Once it became clear that my interest in this stuff was more than just a passing fixation, my parents slowly but surely came around to liking it themselves. In fact, my mother took me to my first Clifftop festival, and my father to the next two, when I was too young to go on my own. All things considered, their experiences in this center of the old-time universe ended up being positive.


I had no firsthand experience with other musical relatives. My dad remembers, while a child in Southeast Colorado, his maternal grandfather playing the fiddle, a bit. This man was born in South Carolina, probably in the 1870’s, so it seems reasonable to assume that whatever fiddling he did was probably old-time. In spite of my Minnesota origin, both sides of my family came from Southern Appalachia – from colonial times until as recently as the turn of the last century - so I like to think that this music may have shown up somewhere in my family tree.
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Listen to Adam's CD's
Interesting Tabs
Marcy Marxer Adam's CD's at CD baby  
Bob Carlin - Banjo Missionary  



Cathy Moore - BanjoAdam Hurt, Clawhammer Banjo

Visit Adam's website



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