It can often be hard to pin down why an artist makes such a long lasting impression on you although, in the case of Michael Hurley, music critic Byron Coley once wrote something that resonated strongly with my feelings about Hurley – “the best American musical inventors (Harry Partch, John Coltrane, John Fahey, Albert Ayer, et al) have consistently possessed an odd blend of traditional and avant garde elements inside their work.” He went on to add that “Michael Hurley deserves a place among this pantheon”, highlighting his surrealist lyric-writing and radicalism of his work. That will do for starters and to let you know that Hurley is touring the UK and Ireland next month – he last played the UK in 2013 – see the tour dates below.
In fact, it may well have been via Coley’s writing that I was first introduced to Michael Hurley’s music aka Elwood Snock who despite now being 76 has managed to stay very much on the fringe living by his own rules. He released his debut album ‘First Songs’ on Moses Asch’s FolkWay Records in 1964. That album pretty much flew under the radar, unlike his next – Armchair Boogie, released several years later in 1971 along with a comic book insert featuring Hurley’s famous Boone & Jocko, two beatnik wolves.
It was English Nobleman that nailed it for me (despite the accent – which just served to attract me even more), although I’ve still a deep affection for The Tea Song and The Werewolf Song off his debut, the latter covered by Barry Dransfield on his self-titled 1972 solo album.
If you listen to the latest Folk Show – No 26 dropped yesterday evening – it features Hurley singing another favourite – Hog of the Forsaken from Ida Con Snock. Listen to the show here.
With an Australasia tour done and dusted, 2018 is already proving a busy year, but as Hurley admits, “It’s quiet in Brownsmead Hill”. While it may interrupt tinkering on his ’68 Chevrolet Impala and ’73 Dodge wagon, another jaunt around the UK is something to anticipate and celebrate.
Check out this lovely Live Session from 2015:
Michael Hurley UK and Ireland Tour Dates
Tue 12 June – Golden Lion in Todmorden (NEW DATE)
Wed 13 June – Gullivers, Manchester
Fri 15 June – The Bandroom, Farndale
Sat 16 June – Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy
Sun 17 June – Summerhall, Edinburgh
Wed 20 June – Cafe Oto, London
Thurs 21 June – Cafe Oto, London
Sat 23 June – The Cube, Bristol
Wed 27 June – The Lobby, Cork
Thurs 28 June – The Grand Social, Dublin
Photo Credit: Tim Bugbee