Hearing Aide: Professor Louie & the Crowmatix’s ‘Music From Hurley Mountain’

Professor Louie & The Crowmatix, hailing from the musical history-rich Woodstock, NY, treats listeners to music and history on their latest album Music From Hurley Mountain, spinning tales of their home and surroundings, clueing listeners in to the rich history and lovely scenery we have right here in our backyard. A “super band” in a sense, with musicians in the band having played with such musical powerhouses as Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Joe Jackson, and Levon Helm, Professor Louie & The Crowmatix are no slouches themselves. Covering a wide range of musical genres – perhaps leaning most heavily toward folk, zydeco, and gospel – listeners can expect to at times be knocked off their feet with the incredible instrumental collaborations and vocal harmonies, and at other times be glued to their seats just listening to all the local history that has seemed to seep its way into all of the band’s tunes. Song names such as “Hurley Mountain Road” and “Ulster Outcry” will garner reminiscent feelings from locals, and those who are unfamiliar with this region will be drawn to it after learning about all the Catskills and Hudson Valley have to offer.

Recording engineer and producer Aaron “Professor Louie” Hurwitz on vocals, keyboards and accordion, is joined by his songwriting partner vocalist/pianist/percussionist Miss Marie, drummer Gary Burke, guitarist/vocalist John Platania, and bassist/vocalist Frank Campbell, collectively making up the Crowmatix. To listen to this band’s latest album is to go on a musical journey that takes the listener from an Irish pub on “Four Farms,” to the Mississipi bayou on “Crop Dustin’ Blues,” to a spirited church service on “Hurley Mountain Road.”

This album has a particularly distinctive beginning, middle, and end. Starting off the album is the 36-second “Golden Morning,” beginning with a trilling accordion sound, which puts the listener right there at an outdoor café in Paris sipping coffee. Progressing through some more spiritual sounding and bluesy tunes, including “Ashton” and “Crop Dustin’ Blues,” the band chose to include “John’s Tractor,” which is essentially just a 30-second recording of a tractor, smack dab in the middle of the album. Given the band’s locale, this could actually be viewed as auspicious timing, as it is quite possible that this is a sound that the band might have had to contend with during the recording of its album in the agricultural surroundings. The album ends with “Goodnight Hurley Moon,” a jazzy/bluesy tune with a French flair featuring the accordion playing major chords juxtaposed against a backdrop of the other instruments playing in a minor key, giving the song a sort of melancholy feel while still remaining positive, a very effective song to end on because it kind of makes you feel like you want to start the whole album over again!

A folk band in the truest sense of the word, this group would fit in well at festivals like Clearwater and Falcon Ridge. Frequently touring throughout Upstate New York, including upcoming shows at Inquiring Minds Bookstore in Saugerties on January 15, and the Orpheum Film and Performing Arts Center in Tannersville on January 16, there is no excuse not to check out these guys. And for those of you looking for a taste of true Catskill Mountain folk music, you’ll definitely want to pick up a copy of Professor Louie & The Crowmatix’s latest album Music From Hurley Mountain, due out on January 15.

Key Tracks: Hurley Mountain Road, Ashton, Four Farmers