Music from Hurley Mountain
directed by Bruce Connors
starring Professor Louie and The Crowmatix
Woodstock Records, MVD Visuals
I always viewed folk music as arising in West Virginia or Oklahoma or the Central Valley of California. But there’s tradition of bluegrass and banjo just up the Hudson River in Hurley County, NY. This Dutch American village briefly served as the US capitol as George Washington chased the British who in turn chased him back. This delightful documentary mixes the country sounds that derived for English drinking songs to a banjo sound you would see at any decent folk festival. The story of Hurley takes us from Indian lands to corn and dairy farming and finally to todays age of wind power. Historic film footage spices up the show, and we see and hear the Dutch influence in food and architecture. and local battles to eek out a living and defend the residents from whatever evil sprits were battling that season. Local color abounds, the natives up here are referred to as “Pot Cheesers” because that’s how they made cheese: in pots. You can’t argue with Yankee directness.
That’s one half of the show, the other comes from the superb picking and playing from a local musical act Professor Louie and The Crowmatix. It’s a family-oriented outfit run by “The Professor” and his wife. “Crop Dusting Blues” played on a slide guitar was my favorite, along with classics like “Turkey in the Straw” and “John’s Tractor” and “Family Reunion.” These guys deliver exactly what you would expect – tight, practiced folk tunes to make you dance until it’s time to milk the cows.