Adam Hurt,
(Copper Creek, 2002)

This young man plays a lot of well-known tunes on fretted and fretless banjo. He has a history with Appalachian folk music from the age of 10. Although he had classical piano training, he was introduced next to lessons for the mandolin. As his music interests grew, he became more inclined to prefer the old-time sound over bluegrass.

Since the mandolin was not a large part of old-time ensembles, he says he "gravitated towards the banjo."

He's been exploring clawhammer banjo since 1995, and though he likes the traditional sound, he's not afraid to experiment. That means there's some intresting pieces on his CD, Intrigue. One that stands out is "Metsakkukia," a waltz that originated in Finland; Hurt claims it's most challenging to play.

Most of the other tracks have an old-time sound. "Sugar Hill," "Black-Eyed Susie" and "Three Thin Dimes" are standards. "Rock the Cradle, Joe" features Cynthia Wicklund keeping time with some fine clogging.

Although the banjo can sound pretty flighty at times, Hurt delivers very strong pieces. Not a tune is weak or tiresome. The track "Ducks on the Millpond" is full, rich and mellow. Moreover, it's played on a large fretless from the 1860s.

What I got the most kick out of was the "Red Haired Boy." I've heard it many times before, probably under other titles, but it was a signature piece of Cape Breton's John Allan Cameron at one time, and Hurt plays it with the best of them.

So it's likely that he's playing with the best of them on this CD. He's added vitality and spark to the music with Brain Wicklund on fiddle, guitar, bouzouki and percussion, Anni Spring on fiddle and Bill Cagley on guitar. This is a great match of talents and it's a CD for old-time lovers, traditional and non. It's so sharp that you might be able to teach yourself a few tunes from it too, if banjo is your thing.

Intrigue is the title, and intrigue it does. It's Adam's style that makes it special, I think. He has energized familiar tunes and brought them to a new place. It's a great CD.

Look out Appalachia, Adam Hurt is on the way.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 7 December 2002

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