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Denver, Colorado, United States | INDIE

Denver, Colorado, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Bluegrass




"Oakhurst Recieves Colorados "Best Bluegrass Band" Award 2007"

After being nominated 4 straight years as the best band in 4 different categories the band finally finds its category in bluegrass winning in 2007.... A category eliminated the following year.

Although the Westword no longer asks th questions here are the interviews with Oakhurst the first two years they were nominated....

Dave Herrera, Editor
Published June 15, 2006

Welcome to the twelfth annual Westword Music Showcase. Twelve -- the dirty dozen. Can you believe it? When we launched the first Showcase all those years ago on a rainy Sunday night in LoDo, who would've thought that it would grow to such a mammoth event? Then again, did anyone ever imagine that Denver music would take such a quantum leap over the last decade, that our scene would become so high-profile? Back then, if you asked most musicians, they would have said that you just couldn't make it out of Denver -- that you had about as much of a chance of getting a record deal as you had of playing at Red Rocks.
How things have changed. These days, local bands are filling Red Rocks and signing deals like crazy. From Morning After Records entering into a partnership with Island Def/Jam, to the Fray climbing to the top of the Billboard charts and selling out nearly every show on its headlining tour, to Rose Hill Drive linking up with Megaforce Records, Denver has become a bona fide music town.


Website: www.porchmusic.com

Personnel: A.P. Hill (lead vocal, guitar); Johnny James Qualley (upright and sideways basses); Zach Daniels (banjo); Adam "Tarzano" Smith (mandolin, electric guitar); Chris "Cruller" Budín (drums).

Native or transplant?
Three natives, two transplants.

Releases/discography: Dual Mono (Big Bender Records, 2005); Greenhorn (Big Bender Records, 2004); Loose and Prosperous (Independent Release, 2001).

Describe your music in a sentence:
It is a hybrid of rock and roll and bluegrass, but we like to just call it Rocky Mountain guerilla grass.

Do you think you can make it out of Denver?
We just got back from doing a 7,300-mile tour through sixteen states, and we are still breathing all right.

What's your idea of "making it"?
Playing music every day instead of twisting the monkey's wrench.

What local artist(s) are you most excited about?
Zebra Junction: D.I.Y. done right. Watch out for Angie Stevens. And let's not forget the legends like Pete Wernick of Hot Rize.

What albums have had the biggest impact on you?
Wilco, A Ghost Is Born; Old Crow Medicine Show; and the Hackensaw Boys, Keep It Simple.

What artists have had the biggest impact on you?
I think we all wanted to be in the Muppet Band. However, we are influenced most by artists who have earned success and stuck to their guns, creatively. You know who they are.

Myspace: godsend or the devil?
www.myspace.com/oakhurst -- make your own judgment.

Do you have an iPod? If so, who's on it right now? The short list of what's not on there:
Jessica Simpson and any American Idols.

Westword Music Showcase 2005

Published: Thursday, June 23, 2005

Welcome to the eleventh annual Westword Music Showcase. That’s right, boys and girls: we’ve invited all of Denver to our party, the largest celebration of local music in the city, and have even taken pity on not-ready-for-prime-time folk by adding an all-ages venue at Scooter Joe’s and making the Outdoor Stage all-ages, too.

But this year, all of our stages across the Golden Triangle boast must-see lineups, pulled from the ninety acts that were nominated by a jury of their peers for this year’s Westword Music Showcase Awards. To make your decision-making process easier, we’ve queried all of the nominatied bands about their past and present. The responses of those who will perform at the Showcase (and who sent along their answers) are reprinted below, with minimal editing for clarity and maximum hilarity.

www.porchmusic.com (Some people think us hillbillies don't know how to use computers, but our porch extends worldwide.)

AP Hill (lead vocal/guitar); Johnny James Qualley (upright and sideways bass); Adam "Tarzano" Smith (mandolin and lead guitar); Zach "no relation" Smith (banjo, acoustic guitar, mandolin, spoons and beatbox); Chris Budin (drums).

Native or transplant?
AP is from Tennessee; Johnny is from Minnesota; and the rest were born right here in beautiful Colorado.

What's in a name?
Long drunken arguments over what's cool.

When did you form/start performing?
Spring 1999.

Loose & Prosperous (2001), Greenhorn (2004), and Dual Mono (2005).

Who or what do you think you sound like?
The taboo convergence of bluegrass and roots rock, with punk-rock tempos. But we are learning how to play pretty songs nowadays, as well.

What are some of your noteworthy recent feats?
Playing with Nickel Creek and Junior Brown at the Chatfield Music Fest and landing a slot on New Belgium Brewing Company's Tour de Fat, which will take us all over the West, with what amounts to a traveling circus.

What albums have had the biggest impact on you?
Depends on who you talk to, but we can all listen to Summerteeth, by Wilco, Hit to Death in the Future Head, by the Flaming Lips, Steam Powered Aereoplane, by John Hartford, and Mutations, by Beck.

What artists have had the biggest impact on you?
The ones that stuck to their guns and made music that made sense to them rather than thinking about some kind of "end user."

How do you pay the bills? What are your day jobs?
Let's just say we are a wild pack of entrepreneurs: odd jobs and philanthropy.

Finish this sentence: If I didn't have to worry about money, I'd...
Be touring in a spaceship with an entourage bigger than George Clinton's.

Finish this sentence: I'd rather be...
Recording train sound effects and figuring out a way to add a new sonic layer to Dual Mono.

Who would play you in the screen adaptation of your life?
The Zombie of Bill Hicks.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
With a passport full of stamps.

What's the biggest misconception about you or your band?
That we are a bluegrass band.

Give us a random factoid about yourself or your band:
We found our banjo player on the 16th Street Mall playing for change.

Elliott Smith or Jack Johnson?
Elliott Smith.

Weezer or Winger?

Jay-Z or Z-Trip?

Football or foosball?
Mexican Celebration Axe Hurling.

Parting shot?
If you have laughter and rhythm in your life, you have it all.
- Oakhurst Nominated 5 years Running... all in different categories??

"Denver-based bluegrass band Oakhurst plans to ‘shred’ in Vail tonight"

A little bit country, a little bit rock n’ roll — that might be the best way to describe the aggressive sound of Oakhurst, a bluegrass quintet from Denver with an urban edge. Their style is part homage to bluegrass legends like Earl Scruggs and part reinvention of the genre using a decidedly more up-beat, party-in-the-mountains approach to playing.

The self-described “Rocky Mountain guerilla grass” band will play tonight at the Sandbar in West Vail. We spoke with Zach Daniels, the banjo player for the band, about what makes Oakhurst stand out and about stretching the boundaries of the bluegrass music.

1. Vail Daily: How did you come to join the band?

Zach Daniels: That’s a pretty interesting story. I was playing down on the 16th Street mall (in Denver) for beer money ... I happened to be playing outside of the Appaloosa Bar and Grill where Johnny (James Qualley) and A.P. (Hill)’s band, Oakhurst, was playing. On one of their set breaks the manager had told them that there was a kid outside playing banjo and to go check him out and they came out and asked me if I knew how to play ‘Rocky Top.’ I said ‘yeah’ ‘cause it was the only song I knew how to play ... and they asked me to come in and play and I got the permanent gig.

2. VD: Did you think the gig would last as long as it has when you first joined the band four years ago?

ZD: Not really. I was just sort of goofing around with the banjo and I never really did take it that seriously, then it started getting more and more serious ... I never did really, back when they asked me to come sit in, thought that it would go this far.

3. VD: What are some of your biggest musical influences even outside the realm of bluegrass?

ZD: My number one influence, my favorite all time band, is Earth Wind and Fire.

4. VD: When you write songs is it a pretty evenly distributed process?

ZD: Everybody adds their own little flavor but I think that A.P., he’s the lead singer, he definitely does most of the song writing ... and kind of comes up with these exoskeletons and we sort of fill it in. We put the guts into it ... We all help out, all help each other. It’s a pretty democratic process.

5. VD: Oakhurst tends to have a little bit more rock n’ roll flavor than other bluegrass bands, is that how you try to stand out in the genre?

ZD: That’s kind of what we try to do, maybe more than other bands, is rock harder. I like to describe our music more as rock n’ roll with bluegrass instrumentation ... We just really try to take the high-energy approach to it, really get the crowd into it and just hang on.

6. VD: Do you feel Oakhurst does a good job staying true to the roots of bluegrass while updating the sound for a new generation?

ZD: We’re not out there to play Earl Scruggs music, we’re not out there to play bluegrass music necessarily, we’re out there playing music that we have fun playing and that’s really our main goal. I think our mission statement is to make sure the crowd has as much fun as we do on stage ... We’re kind of showing that it’s possible to play different kinds of music with these kind of genre-stereotyped instruments.

7. VD: What should the crowd expect from your show at the Sandbar?

ZD: I would expect to see a lot of Jameson drinking, a lot of guitar shredding and mandolin shredding. I say just a lot of shredding. Shredding in general. - Vail Daily - Vail, CO

"Rockies vs. Appalachians - Western boys get eastern approval!"

It's the band's road-hardened musicality that makes the Western bluegrass of Oakhurst appealing. The Denver, Colo.-based quintet is constantly on the road with mighty-fine picking and harmony-laden crooning that gels into down-to-earth bluegrass, lightly tinted with rock when needed. Lead vocalist/guitarist A.P. Hill sounds like a genuine hillbilly, albeit from the Western hills rather than the Appalachians. Nothing wrong with that. - Creative Loafing - Charlotte, NC

"Jump in the Get Down Review"

Oakhurst's strongest album so far, Jump in the Get Down is a solid piece of tradition-minded bluegrass tempered with just enough of a rock edge to appeal to alt-country and jam band enthusiasts with little patience with or knowledge of the real thing. Think of it as a gateway into the likes of Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder.

On their fourth album, Colorado-based progressive bluegrass outfit Oakhurst largely abandon the alt-country side of their sound that flourished on previous efforts like Dual Mono and Greenhorn. Even outlaw country-influenced rockers like "Soon as the Sun" and "Run Run" and the weepy trucker story "Jim and Nan" are built on the fluid mandolin and banjo lines and speedy tempos of traditional bluegrass as much as the rock & roll stomp of the rhythm section. It's not a coincidence that the album's one song with the least bluegrass influence, the quite ordinary jam band ballad "Crazy," is by some distance Jump in the Get Down's weakest track. The expansive seven-minute epic "Heartstring" is a far more effective blend of singer/songwriter-style rock form and bluegrass style. But the album's heart is in the handful of good old-fashioned bluegrass instrumentals, which are rooted in tradition but played with freshness and vitality that keep them from sounding like museum pieces.

~ Stewart Mason, All Music Guide - Billboard.com - All Music Guide

"Rock the Boat"

... Not that there isn't variety. The cruise features a diverse lineup, including power-pop brooders (The New Odds), indie-rock almost-weres (Harvey Danger), alt-country cynics (The Handsome Family), Weather Channel theme-song providers (Guster), and then there are bands like Oakhurst, who have become staples on the rock cruise circuit. The Denver-based bluegrass quintet has performed on at least six cruises, beginning with a supporting gig on the "Groove Cruise," where they played mostly hallways and elevators.

"We just love these ships," says mandolinist Adam "Tarzano" Smith. "It's not about being a rock star. It's about having a good time, playing some good music, sweating on the floor, dancing around like an idiot, and just going crazy."

The musicians admit that connecting with their fans is the main reason they do these tours. "We're literally trapped with them," says Chris Budin, Oakhurst's drummer. "If I could, I'd sneak into everybody's cabin and spoon with them."

He probably wouldn't encounter much resistance. Rock cruise passengers aren't casual music fans. They live and breathe the stuff. And everyone I've spoken to has at least one story about the music's deep and significant impact on them.

Read the full article it is GOOD:
http://www.radaronline.com/from-the-magazine/2008/06/rock_cruises_bare_naked_ladies_ships_and_dip_guster_05.php - RADAR Magazine -By Eric Spitznagel

"Oakhurst Feature"

The lead vocals of A.P. Hill takes listeners down windy roads, alongside raging rivers and to the tallest of mountaintops. Not only does he have a great vocal presence, the lyrics of the band’s original material creates vivid imagery inside the heads and hearts of listeners. Musically these young cats have some serious chops. Adam Smith seems to have a masterful approach to the mandolin and Zach Daniels is no slouch on the banjo, but these two traditional instruments in the hands of Zach and Adam crank out a sound that's far from traditional, the duo playing with fever-pitched picking and rock and roll attitude.

The choice to have a drummer also proves that these guys are far from the stuck in the mud traditionalists. Chris Budin doesn't just lay the track for this bluegrass locomotive; he also sings from behind the kit. Joined by Johnny James Qualley on bass, the two build a solid foundation of rhythm for these talented pickers to dance around atop of.

Phenomenal instrumental talent and a very well developed wealth of original material have delivered this band success on a national level. They have played at festivals like Wakarusa, Mulberry Mountain’s Harvest Fest and Hookahville, and have shared the stage with a wide array of artists like Junior Brown, Lyle Lovett, The Flaming Lips and Leftover Salmon. They have four released albums, the most recent being Jump in the Get Down on Big Bender Records. They will certainly be making waves on the festival circuit next year, and will be joining The Simple Man Cruise January 8th-12th at the first of 2009.

Brad Hodge - 1/6/09 - Honest Tune Magazine

"Oakhurst Brings it's own Style to Telluride"

What do you get when you take a banjo and a fiddle, a rhythm section built to rock and a and a mean flat pickin' lyrical genius on a stage together with pyrotechnics and a Ferrari? An Oakhurst show (minus the pyrotechnics and the Ferrari- though) "There was this one time we had a perfectly timed confetti bomb go off for us out over the pool deck at a show during a set we did on a cruise ship.", says Zach Daniels, banjo player for Oakhurst. "It was awesome!", he added.

Since 1999, Oakhurst have been writing and performing "Rocky Mountain Guerrilla Grass" together, all the while remaining Denver-based. Traveling through 33 states, 13 countries, and playing between 220 and 240 shows a year, this full-time act has seen a lot. "Getting to quit our day jobs back in '05 was a big milestone for us", says AP Hill, lead vocals and flat top guitar. AP also heads up the band's song writing process. "AP kind of comes up with the shave and the haircut and we throw in the two-bits" says Daniels. Other members of the band include, Johnny James Qualley on the bass, Chris Budin on drums, and Chuck Hugenberg on the fiddle. Hugenberg, a former Telluride resident, who jumped in on short notice when the band lost long time member, Adam Smith on mandolin. "Chuck's great! We flew him out mid-tour and got him in front of a sold-out Chicago House of Blues crowd on St. Patty's day weekend, and he just killed it", says Johnny. "We knew then, that this was a guy we could count on". Chuck is originally from Columbus, GA, moving to Telluride in 2004 to teach golf at the Telluride Golf Club. When he wasn't losing bets on the course, he was busy either shredding with Telluride's very own Turkey Creek Ramblers, or finessing his way through classical tunes as a member of the San Juan Symphony.

According to their discography, Oakhurst has released four CDs since 2001. "We conveniently, however, can only find three of them," Daniels says. Their latest release, Jump In the Get Down is a generous 11 song collection of originals full of a little bit of everything, ranging from the tender love ballad to the rollicking high energy bluegrass rock n' roll tunes their fans have grown to love. "We're anticipating another awesome year in Telluride. All the good music, people, campground jams, and those waterfalls! We can't wait. You know, bluegrass has had this immense international impact that its creators, I'm guessing, might not have foreseen. The really cool thing there is that a good majority of these guys are alive and witnessing this," says Daniels. While not playing your traditional bluegrass music, the guys in Oakhurst all recognize the importance of where they stand in a world built by others, and respect the fathers of the genre. When asked if they play any traditional tunes during their set, drummer Chris Budin smiled with a wink and said, "We know a few".
- Telluride Style Summer

"Testimonials - Quick Look"

"ADD OAKHURST...I want Oakhurst on all of our cruises next year... they will be our 'X-Factor'!"
Andy Levine - Sixth Man Productions
- Atlanta, GA

"The next time you are sitting around your campfire and a limo golf cart rolls up, get ready to GET DOWN".
Steve Trickle - Hookahville
- Thorneville, OH

"Everyone [at Wakarusa] was really impressed by Oakhurst and thought you were real go-getters! You’ve got quite a buzz going around the production office."
Julie Ibach - Pipeline Productions
- Lawrence, Kansas

"Oakhurst is AWESOME!! We loved them... they were my favorite act of the entire weekend! We must have them back for next year!
Mishel - Garden Valley Bluegrass Festival
- Boise, ID

"Take a break... Stop playing! I love it and all, but you guys should enjoy the fact your on a cruise ship"
- Advice from Andy Levine

"Oakhurst does what many other bluegrass rockers haven’t been able to do — combine genres, instead of just crossing over them."
Brian Johnson - Editor Marquee Magazine
-Boulder, CO

"Oakhurst is the bluegrass equivalent of The Replacements at their most carefree."
- Left off the Dial.com

Last night went very well and the 8 friends (six of which have never seen you before) I brought were completely enthralled with your stage presence and ability to dictate the audiences’ mood. Last night I saw the difference from where you have been to where you intend to go. You were polished, tight, controlling, and balanced and still made the fans feel like they were watching the same laid-back whiskey sippin’ boys with no care in the world.

- email from industry insider

Backbeat scribes weigh in on their favorite new releases from the past year.

This year, more and more listeners beyond Colorado's borders have discovered what area fans have known for a long time: There are some damned fine performers here. But for every act that's receiving a national push, there are a lot of others making music that deserves to be heard by the masses, too, and not just their friends and family....

... Oakhurst, Dual Mono (Big Bender Records).

A spirited acoustic hoedown in an overcrowded cabin near Walsenburg launched Dual Mono, Oakhurst's debut full-length. Clean and off the cuff, it's rowdy, warm and inviting. Essentially a roundup of live first takes, the rustic gem captures five veteran roots-rockers injecting bluegrass into an old-timey mountain sound. Put another log on the fire.
DUAL MONO.... Various Reviewers

"Teetering between high energy that pulsates from your speakers and mellow acoustic moans, the album relocates it's audience to a bizarre street performance filled with unparalleled musicianship.
Dual Mono is the follow-up to the band's Big Bender debut Greenhorn and it's evident that the band is continuing to add rings to their tree as they grow and mature as musicians."

Alex Samuels - Marquee Mag
- Boulder, CO
Virtually a live offering, Dual maintains a warm, analog feel from start to finish, alternating between acoustic shoot-outs ("Gypsies at JR's"), tender balladry ("Moonshine Still") and groove-oriented, electric blues funk ("Olivine"). Generous at fourteen cuts, it pays tribute to Virginia's Hackensaw Boys with a turbo-charged cover of "Dance Around," plus a breezy ode to the Hacks' banjo picker, Jimmy Stelling, aka the "Kooky Eyed Fox."
Emphasizing the importance of lyrics and composition over any gratuitous special effects, Dual's impressive packaging, with artwork by Greg Carr, deftly captures Oakhurst with raw immediacy.

John LaBriola - Westword
- Denver, CO

- What Promoters and Writers have said about / to Oakhurst

"On The Verge - 5 Artists You Should Know About"

"I would call it high-octane roots rock with a bluegrass injection" double-bassist Johnny James Qualley says about Oakhurst's sound. Oakhurst has developed the attitude that it can play anywhere, anytime. And fans feed off of the group's laidback disposition and contagious energy. In fact, the quintet has made a name for itself on the festival circuit by traveling around in golf carts "guerrilla-grassing" people (after a suggestion from Vince Herman). "We cruise around and provide improptu accoustic assaults," says Qualley with a laugh. The group's latest release, "Jump in the Get Down" evokes a hybrid bluegrass-rock sound that blends harmonies and string picking with rock - sometimes recalling Yonder Mountain String Band and at other times reminiscent of a jug band, or even String Cheese Incident's acoustic sets. Oakhurst maintains an intense touring schedule of over 200 shows per year and is playing Wakarusa and Telluride Bluegrass Festival this June. "We have been to 9 countries and about 40 states and it's fun every single day - we're really lucky to be doing what we are doing!"

-Amy Jaques, Relix - June 2008 - Relix Magazine - June 2008

"Bluegrass with Swagger - Oakhurst looks to revise the string band tradition / Denver's Oakhurst members list influences for their sound"

12/19/2008..When the five members of Denver’s Oakhurst started thinking about what influences their music, they had no trouble looking past the updated bluegrass acts that have come before them.

The band looks to groups such as Leftover Salmon as a formula for playing rock music on traditional instruments, but their party vibe comes as much from a fuel concoction of citrus soda, beer and pizza than it does from listening to Earth, Wind & Fire.

To give Steamboat audiences an idea of what they can expect from the band’s three-night stay at The Tugboat Grill & Pub this weekend, Oakhurst mandolin player Adam Smith and banjo player Zach Daniels shared the many ideas and items that have affected the band’s stage presence and sound.

Musical influences
Compiled by mandolin player Adam Smith and banjo player Zach Daniels

1. Ween: Definitely taught us how to rock witty.

2. Wilco: Taught us how to rock with our feelings.

3. The Flaming Lips: Taught us not to be afraid to rock differently.

4. Pete Wernick: Broke down the philosophy of rock, along with the history of rock.

5. Leftover Salmon: Showed us the potential rock-ability of bluegrass instrumentation. Also, they’re neat.

6. Earth, Wind & Fire: Taught us how to rock it tight.

7. Dethclock/ Metalocalypse: Because they travel in a train that runs on dead people with a hot tub and video games! Now that’s green!

8. John Hartford: Because he was Ruff n’ Ready.

9. Bob Marley: Bluegrass is basically hillbilly reggae.

Nonmusical influences (mostly food-oriented)
Compiled by Smith and Daniels

1. Ramen Noodles: Because, like Oakhurst, the recipe is simple, yet it rocks.

2. Barbecue ribs: Everyone in Oakhurst gets excited about ribs!

3. Beer: It makes us smile.

4. Squirt: It is really refreshing in the summer after eating banana burritos with habanero sauce.

5. Pizza: It seems to be following us around the country. I think it’s our biggest fan!

6. Denver: It is the best home we could ever have.

7. New Belgium: Taught us green rock method.

8. Appaloosa Bar and Grill in Denver on the 16th St. Mall: There’s just no place like home.

9. Stelling Banjos: Got us a screaming deal on some rock.

10. Jameson: Shook up our inner cats really hard inside of a rock box.

Article From Sept 9
Steamboat Springs — If music fans can expect one thing from Oakhurst’s show tonight at Mahogany Ridge, bass player Johnny James Qualley has a guess at what it might be:

“Sweat,” Qualley said. “They can expect sweat because they’re going to be dancing so much. It’s one of those things where we kind of wind it up all the way to where we’re going, and then we start playing and people can’t control themselves.”

Along the same lines, Oakhurst mandolin player Adam Smith said the show “is gonna be a hoot.”

“We’re going to go in there and pretty much play our hearts out, regardless. We pretty much leave it all at the door. It’s just going to be ridiculous,” Smith said, attempting to heed Qualley’s background request that he not “say anything dumb.”

On the phone from their home base in Denver, Smith and Qualley talked with 4 Points about performing 200 nights a year, being open to new influences and playing bluegrass-influenced music on traditional instruments with “a rock ’n’ roll swagger and a rock ’n’ roll attitude.”

4 POINTS: What sets your band apart?

JOHNNY JAMES QUALLEY: Unlike most bluegrass bands, we have a big, driving rhythm section, and then you’ve got these guys just picking at 1,000 miles a minute.

It’s kind of like rock ’n’ roll on bluegrass instruments. We have the typical kind of classic bluegrass lineup, except we swapped out our fiddle player for a drummer. It works really good; it’s got a nice, broad appeal wherever we go.

4 POINTS: Do you get any opposition to that from more traditional bluegrass fans?

JJQ: People in that world generally don’t gravitate toward us. … If we were to go into a string band competition, we probably would not fare well, you know? But we have this kind of cohesiveness and go-for-it vibe.

We just don’t get invitations to more traditional types of events. If we were able to achieve independent success, then we might start to get invitations. For example, Ryan Adams was at Telluride (Bluegrass Festival) last year, and he’s not a traditional bluegrass musician. …

So the more traditional festivals tend to pass on us, but, at the same time, we get into a lot of festivals and venues that the traditional bluegrass band might not.

4 POINTS: How did you guys end up playing this kind of music?

JJQ: Once we had that instrumentation (acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo, bass and drums), we started really doing our homework and digging into the style, and over time, we kind of ended up what we are today.

4 POINTS: How has that sound evolved in the years you’ve been playing together?

JJQ: Everyone has different tastes in the band, and they show themselves in different ways. It just keeps happening. On our next two records, we’re going to be doing some pretty big divergences from what we’ve done. The more bands we hear, those kind of get integrated into what we’re doing.

One guy will get turned on to a band. For example, a band we just saw in Steamboat, The Avett Brothers — if someone brings that in and we’re driving around together and someone hears it, the whole band has been influenced by it. So we’ll pick a cover by a band that no one’s ever heard of, and then the whole band will hear it, and we’ll all have our own collection. - Steamboat Pilot & Today - Steamboat Springs, CO - 9/5/08 &12/19/08


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.



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.