Review - Adam Hurt Live Concert Review -BanjoCrazy.com Exclusive
Adam Hurt's live concert performance this summer in Colorado is reviewed by Carla Roberts of BanjoCrazy.com
My first live listening experience of Adam Hurt was at the 2009 Durango Meltdown where Adam was playing with a spirited string band from Southern Appalachia called Chance McCoy and the Appalachian String Band. Adam was providing an unassuming banjo support which blended so well with the other traditional strings that I had trouble hearing the banjo as a separate part. After a few numbers, Adam was introduced with great respect by the fiddler and band leader Chance McCoy. The room hushed in anticipation and as the first clear tones of the banjo rang out, the audience mood transformed from curious to reverent. This was a master at play and we drank in every finely crafted note - like savoring each sip of a fine wine full of surprising flavors.
Paul Roberts had discovered Adam Hurt on David Hyatt's gourd banjo website and became an immediate fan. Since we often featured traditional music at our live concert series, it became a quest to bring Adam out for a live solo concert. What excitement when we discovered he was flying out to do the Meltdown, in our area, and could manage another day to do a solo show in our little mountain village.
More excitement was added to the mix when gourd banjo maker, David Hyatt, found out that Adam was doing a concert here and generously offered to send out his personal gourd banjo for Adam to perform on. For a banjo crazy household such as ours, this was unbelievable good fortune. The gourd banjo arrived - a simply stunning, finely crafted instrument that looked a bit like a Persian tar with its hourglass shape. I realized immediately that a fretless banjo was difficult to play and would need an expert touch, to pull out the best sound.
By the time I collected Adam, he had been performing and jamming all weekend at the Durango Meltdown. Upon arriving at our abode, he tuned up the Hyatt gourd banjo and began bonding with it. I had never heard such a lovely tone from a gourd banjo. Then he worked his way through our personal banjos to find the ones with a particular feel and tone that would work for his performance. I was honored that he chose my own Alvarez Silver Princess (based on the old Vega Tubaphone). His next choice was our Gold Tone Special Edition Bob Carlin 350+ open back with a skin head. He experimented with various Gold Tone cello banjos. Adam was traveling with his 2008 Kevin Enoch banjo.
One of the reasons we produce small concerts, is to provide musicians the opportunity to play in a focused concert setting with good acoustics and an appreciative audience. For our audience - boomers and beyond - Adam was a draw, something exotic from the faraway land of North Carolina. Adam's visual playing style is introspective; I wondered how he would hold their attention for 90 minutes, sans accompaniment.
From the first to last number the magical spell of Adam's playing captivated and held them the entire evening - a repeat of the audience response I witnessed in Durango. Adam morphed into a banjo ambassador, sowing interest with his erudite introductions - weaving strands of the past into his original arrangements and then, somehow, making it all completely and totally fascinating to listen to and watch. I have never been so inspired. How does he imbue his playing with such timeless grace and profound subtleties of rhythm and melody?
Take the hammer-on, pull-off and slide - our banjo "secret weapons." Exploring these and other techniques, Adam creates a maze that you are propelled through, in real time. First you turn here, then there - and, just when you lose the way, an opening appears. You keep moving forward. You are dancing - flowing through the maze to the pulsing, rhythmic center. Then you reverse and repeat outward - to the end of the tune. Listening to Adam's banjo, the true heart of the music is revealed. On a couple occasions during the concert Adam played his fiddle, connecting to the other pillar of traditional American music.
The Hyatt gourd banjo really impressed our audience. Unusual to look at and possessing a distinctive tone, this banjo could sound mushy if played with a heavy hand. In Adam's hands, it was balanced and very pleasing with a rich and delicate voice, perfect for old-time tunes. In October, Adam returns to to our mountain village, to record a solo CD on this Hyatt gourd banjo.
In my younger years what initially attracted me to the old-time banjo was the bouncy rhythm. It was fun to play. You could enjoy playing, all by yourself. The simplest frailed tune could entertain; a more intricate clawhammer rendition could challenge. Adam has pushed the boundaries of mere entertainment and challenging musicianship into a sweeping virtuosity that explodes our current banjo reality. It is not about speed or the "too many notes syndrome," although Adam is surely capable of lightning finger- work. Adam's is a lyrical approach, coupled with a systematic technique and keen attention to detail and nuance that informs his playing. It is pure ear candy. And, like many sweets, entirely addictive.
|Perspective CD Review
Read a review of Adam Hurt's brand new CD entitled "Perspective" by Carla Roberts. Please visit BanjoCrazy.com's new
Adam Hurt Page for more articles, reviews and news about Adam Hurt.
Carla Roberts is a world music multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and dancer who performs and teaches in the Four Corners of the Southwest. She is the webmaster for BanjoCrazy.com
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