Professor Louie and the Crowmatix Music from Hurley Mountain
(2016, Woodstock Records)
Aaron Hurwitz's roots with The Band go deep. Over a period of 15 years, he recorded and co-produced three albums for the seminal group and performed with a variety of members in offshoot combos. But never more has that shared sense of sound been born out than with Professor Louie and the Crowmatix's latest effort. Music from Hurley Mountain is by turns rustic, rocking, and redemptive. A concept album of sorts, it runs from the accordion miniature "Golden Morning" to the gentle instrumental lullaby of "Goodnight Hurley Moon." In between, in its mellowest moments ("Family Reunion," a beautiful take on "Angel Band") it recalls 1987's similarly titled effort by the Woodstock Mountain Revue, Music from Mud Acres.
In its rootsiest tumbles ("Ulster Outcry," Jimmy Reed's "You Got Me Dizzy") it sounds like a hot, electric night at Levon Helm's barn. The greasy, slide-driven "Crop Dustin' Blues" cops its opening strains straight from the Animals' "We Gotta Get Out of This Place," while "Four Farmers" is, literally, a whistling Irish fiddle tune. And things get very soulful with the Arthur Alexander croon of "Light in Your Eyes." Accompanying the Professor and singer Miss Marie is a mean A-list of players including guitarists John Platania and Josh Colow, bassist Frank Campbell, session-king drummer Gary Burke, and ubiquitous fiddler Larry Packer. Music from Hurley Mountain is ambitious without overreaching. It's also a lovely encapsulation of the multihued but solid groove of the Hudson Valley.