Denver, Colorado, USA

Oakhurst is an international roots rock / Americana quintet that has built its reputation on a high energy live show, dynamic stage personalities, sweet harmonies and adept picking.


It’s fashionable these days for bands to call themselves “eclectic,” or “genre-bending,” but for Denver, Colorado’s Oakhurst, those terms aren’t the result of some marketing strategy, or even of well-meant wishful thinking—they’re the simple, unvarnished truth. For proof, just look to the fact that Oakhurst has been nominated for their hometown’s independent weekly’s music awards in five different categories—or, even better, just listen to their brand new album, Barrel. Because when you get right down to it, it’s all about the music, and while the music Oakhurst makes on Barrel isn’t the kind that defies description, it’s definitely the kind that defies any one description—and the result is a perfect snapshot of an upward-bound quintet that’s as broad-ranging as any you’re likely to hear all year.

Produced by Joe Pisapia (Guster, k. d. lang) and recorded at Nashville’s Middle Tree Studios, Barrel takes a noticeable turn from the bluegrass leanings that characterized 2008’s Jump in the Getdown, thanks in part to the departure of the group’s banjo player and the arrival of guitarist Daniel Lawrence Walker, whose slide work gives the project—and the band’s entire sound—a bluesier edge. That’s not to say that there isn’t continuity in the prominence of acoustic guitar and mandolin throughout, or in the loose, easy-going lope of songs like “Halleluia,”—in fact, there’s even a taste of just-about-straightforward ‘grass in the tribute to one of the group’s heroes, John Hartford. But there are also new accents, new rhythms, new textures, and a new gravity, too, in the lyrics; these are boys who know how to settle back and have a good time, but they’re also men who know there’s more to life than that.

“It's much more roots-rock Americana,” bassist Johnny Qualley told the Aspen Times while the group was still hard at work on the album, and that’s right as far as it goes, but in the end, Barrel really does elude easy description; just when you think that you’ve got it pegged with the good-time, good-natured feel of the title track, your expectations are confounded by the electrified sonorities and heartfelt yearning of “Satellites,” and then by the country flavor of “Out West,” written with the help of the Infamous Stringdusters’ Jeremy Garrett. There’s the easy r&b sway of “Be Alright,” the lilt of “Promises,” the moody “Cosmic American Music” atmospherics of “Surrender” and “Please,” which seamlessly blend a dozen different influences, and the heartfelt appeal of “Time To Change”—even a raucous hoedown on “Mission,” which brings the banjo back for one more turn.

Yet there’s a logic—even a kind of inevitability—to Barrel’s quicksilver shifts, reflecting the twists and turns of a collective career that’s now entering its second decade. Qualley and lead singer/guitarist A. P. Hill are the lone holdovers from the founding lineup, with drummer Chris Budin, mandolin/guitar man Max Paley joining more recently and Walker the freshest recruit—but whether old or new, each member is an essential contributor. The result is an ensemble that’s earned enough acclaim—and enough fans—to keep them on the road year-round. Indeed, whether tearing it up around Denver, traveling across the country or crossing the oceans, Oakhurst have been tapped to appear with a dizzying variety of fellow artists, ranging from jam-grass favorites like Yonder Mountain String Band and Leftover Salmon to Americana staples like the Avett Brothers and John Hiatt to country icons such as Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett to flat-out rockers like Lynyrd Skynyrd—and wherever they’ve done so, they’ve gotten audiences up on their feet with their infectious energy.

So when you hear Oakhurst—and their latest album—described as “eclectic,” resist the temptation to doubt. Some artists talk the talk, but when it comes to music that knows no boundaries and no limits and yet remains deeply rooted in the American vernacular, Oakhurst is one tight group that knows how to walk the walk.


Loose and Prosperous, independent release, 2001
Greenhorn, Big Bender Records, 2004
Dual Mono, Big Bender Records, 2005
Jump in the Get Down, Big Bender Records, 2008

Oakhurst is releasing its lastest LP entitled BARREL, with a limited edition EP in advance by end or year 2011, with the full LP release in Spring 2012, recorded in Nashville with Producer Joe Pisapia.

Set List

General sets are about an hour. 12-15 tunes, 100% original. When playing longer that an hour the band will throw in some covers. Covers include songs by Wilco, John Hartford, Avett Brothers, Ween, The Who, Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, Old Crow Medecine Show, Uncle Tupelo, Hackensaw Boys plus traditional bluegrass numbers other eclectic artists' tunes.