PROFESSOR LOUIE & THE CROWMATIX
New York City and the State of New York has such a rich history. True, it’s a tough place to make it and many don’t but New York still remains home to some of the best musicians in the world today. Located a couple hour’s drive north of the city of New York in Upstate New York, specifically the town of Hurley, NY is the home of the Roots Rock band known as Professor Louie and The Crowmatix. Although mwe3.com reviewed Professor Louie’s Crowin’ The Blues album back in 2017, a couple years before that in 2015, there was another PL&C album called Music From Hurley Mountain. With its narrative score detailing the incredible history of the town of Hurley, New York, the songs on Music From Hurley Mountain album had made a big impact on film director Bruce Connors, so much so that in 2019 he directed a movie DVD documentary based around the history of Hurley, and its album version history (as first heard on the 2015 Professor Louie & the Crowmatix CD) the DVD is called Music From Hurley Mountain: Legacy Of A Historic Americana Town. What better band then Professor Louie and The Crowmatix to not only write and perform the music featured on the DVD in a live setting, but also to have such a big part in both the movie scenes and acting, with interviews that provide timely insights into the early and more current history of Ulster County from long-time natives of Hurley that are still alive. Speaking about the movie documentary, Louie tells mwe3.com “This is a story about agriculture, history and how the land shaped the people in ever-changing ways. Farming and family and hardship, mountains and memories from The Crowmatix recording Studio LRS- Rock ’n’ Roll Barn and the musicians from all over the world that recorded there. All of this is touched on in this thoughtful film.” The live tracks performed on the DVD establishes the remarkable chemistry of the band, with all PL&C members in excellent form throughout the movie. Professor Louie & The Crowmatix are all outstanding musicians and performers and have recorded and worked with many notable acts over the years. As is readily available to see in the film, Professor Louie, whose real name is Aaron Louis Hurwitz, is clearly one of the best soulful rock singers of a generation and his piano, accordion and Hammond organ work is also excellent and worth watching. A ball of fiery sonic force, Louie’s songwriting and singing partner in the Crowmatix is Miss Marie, whose real name is Marie Spinosa and she also makes for a fine singer and front person in her own right. Miss Marie, singer, pianist and percussionist has recorded and performed with Levon Helm, Rick Danko and Mercury Rev. John Platania, on electric and acoustic guitars and backing vocals is renowned for his peformances and recordings with Van Morrison, Judy Collins and Chip Taylor, the latter of "Wild Thing" fame. PL&C drummer Gary Burke worked with Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review, Joe Jackson and more, while the group's bass and backing vocalist Frank Campbell was also the music director with Levon Helm's Woodstock All Stars. Special guest artist on Hurley Mountain, violin player Larry Packer was featured in the original movie by The Band called The Last Waltz. With Louie’s long standing history as a producer and member of the latter day incarnation of rock legends The Band, Professor Louie and The Crowmatix carries that same standard of excellence as The Band did in the late 1960s and for much of the 1970s. In addition to being a valuable history lesson of both New York State as well as United States history, Music From Hurley Mountain Documentary: Legacy Of A Historic Americana Town is one of the most entertaining and informative music-related DVD titles of the 2020’s. www.professorlouie.com / www.woodstockrecords.com
mwe3.com presents a new interview with
mwe3: How was the winter of 2020-21? Are you in Hurley as we speak? It must be still cold up there.
PLC: We are in Hurley, NY, working in the studio. This winter has been a cold and snowy one.
mwe3: Has the Co-vid 19 pandemic of the past year impacted your music and Professor Louie & the Crowmatix as a band?
mwe3: Having no live concerts for most of the past year has been pretty devastating. What’s your assessment of the way it went down?
PLC: It would have been better if we had more of a warning.
mwe3: Do you have some ideas on where it’s going next?
PLC: We are hoping with the vaccine and people being more conscious, venues will start opening. New concerts are scheduled starting Summer 2021 and hopefully as things get better we will be performing live at Festivals and venues.
mwe3: Have you been writing new music for future releases?
PLC: We have all been working on various music projects and presently PL&C are working on new material at LRS Studios for several CD’s to be released in the coming year.
mwe3: I was knocked out by the new DVD documentary, Music From Hurley Mountain: Legacy Of A Historic Americana Town. How did you meet up with director Bruce Connors
PLC: We know Bruce Connors for many years and he is a big fan of The Crowmatix. We did work together before. Bruce shot a live concert performance – PL&C - Peekskill Celebration years ago.
mwe3: What led to him getting involved in directing the documentary?
PLC: He really enjoyed our CD Music From Hurley Mountain. He filmed a few promotional videos for the CD and thought the songs and concept would make for an interesting documentary.
mwe3: It’s only 45 minutes yet it’s so full of information and great music, that it’s great to watch over and over again. Why was there such a long gap between the Music From Hurley Mountain CD in 2015 and the DVD documentary in 2019 or 2020? I guess it took a long time the grow the idea, research, edit.
PLC: It took time to schedule different folks for Hurley Mountain documentary interviews. It takes time to come up with the right equation of interpreting songs into film concepts. Bruce was busy with other video projects and The Crowmatix were still performing at live Concerts until 3/15/2020. Bruce came to the studio a number of times to video the group performing the original songs live. There was a lot of footage and it took time to edit the DVD, getting together the visuals to fit the lyrics.
mwe3: Was the Music From Hurley Mountain Documentary DVDbased or prefaced in its entirety on the Professor Louie CD Music From Hurley Mountain?
PLC: The songs in the documentary were based on the CD Music From Hurley Mountain.
mwe3: How did the director put the whole thing together around the album?
PLC: The songs on the album were written about PL&C’s time in this area, Hurley’s history of The Revolutionary War, farming, the NYC reservoir system, and the future of the Hurley area. We wanted to keep the legacy alive about our recording studio the Rock ’n’ Roll Barn and all the musicians such as The Band, Commander Cody, Graham Parker, Guy Davis, Mercury Rev, Professor Louie & The Crowmatix and many more who recorded here.
PLC: Ian Kimmet was the Bearsville Records A & R man and ran The Bearsville Studio for a while. I worked at The Bearsville Studio quite a bit with The Band and other artists, we became friends.
He sounds of Irish descent so clearly Ian knew a lot about The Band and the musical connection of the Band and the Crowmatix to the areas in Ulster county.
PLC: Ian, is originally a native of Scotland, came to the US in the ‘70’s to work at Bearsville Records in Woodstock, New York with Albert Grossman, Manager of The Band, Janis Joplin, Peter, Paul & Mary. Ian has lived off and on in Ulster County, NY for many years and has been a fan of Professor Louie & The Crowmatix for a long time. He came to us with the concept and titles for writing tunes about Hurley, its history and relationships we had with the families living here.
mwe3: I wonder why The Band, during their heyday never did a movie, or had someone like Bruce do it, about the history of their musical origins or did they?
PLC: The Band had of course The Last Waltz in 1976. Before that they were featured in a few Bob Dylan movies. They were also very busy consistently on tour. There is more of a demand now than in those days for music documentaries. In more recent years there have been different documentaries made
mwe3: Are you a historian of New York State history?
PLC: No we are not Historians about New York State but do study the history of the people and where we live and work. While writing the songs we all learned a lot about the history of Hurley and the Ulster County area of NY.
mwe3: How did you enlist the help of the Hurley Heritage Society to get the setting of the story. I didn’t know there were so many wars between the early European settlers and the Lenape Indians.
PLC: When Bruce Conners starting working on the CD he suggested we interview folks from the Hurley Heritage Society and that led to many of the interviews of people who knew the history of Hurley. I always want to speak to the older residents of all areas to capture their stories.
mwe3: How did you invite the help of the lady in the film, Gail Whistance, that gave the historical background in the movie?
PLC: Hurley is a small Village with one Main Street. It is very easy to approach people that live or have businesses there. The Hurley Heritage Society has a museum in town and at the time Gail was the head of The Hurley Heritage Society and is an historian and scholar of the area.
mwe3: She said the Indians were already living in that area for thousands of years in what became Hurley before the early settlers arrived?
PLC: Indigenous people have lived in North America for thousands of years and this area of Hurley is no exception.
mwe3: Are there still Indians living in Ulster County or in New York State?
PLC: Yes, There are reservations and a strong presence in many areas of New York State.
mwe3: Do you know any American Indians in the area?
PLC: Yes, I have made a few recordings of Dennis Yerry who has a few Indian projects in Ulster County.
mwe3: There are also some interesting interviews with long-time residents of that area in the DVD documentary. I was particularly moved by the interview with Iris Oseas. How did you meet Iris and is she still alive?
PLC: We met Iris Oseas while making the documentary through Gail. She is alive & well in Hurley, New York.
mwe3: I guess you wanted the human touch from long-time residents of the area or is Iris considered a historian? She’s in several parts of the movie.
PLC: Iris is a great local storyteller and historian, a member of the Hurley Heritage Society and was happy to be part of the documentary.
mwe3: She did a great lead up to the Crowmatix playing “Light In Your Eyes”, which is as you say, the love song on both the CD and the DVD.
PLC: Since Iris had a wonderful love story to tell and we had written the love song, Light In Your Eyes, about the relationships of couples in Hurley it just was a perfect match. The director loved the song and Iris’ story.
mwe3: Tell us about The Kaufman family.
PLC: The Kaufmann family owns the farm where the studio is located. Mr. & Mrs. John Kaufmann lived here for about 60 years, had a large family and were very active in the local community.
mwe3: How did you meet them?
PLC: John Kaufman’s son in law had a studio on the Kaufman Farm property that I worked in and I took the studio over when the he left.
mwe3: Who wrote the song “Family Reunion”? On the CD you said it was written by Holt & Gabbard. Is it a traditional song?
PLC: I found the “Family Reunion” song on a cassette in a truck stop years ago that was labeled Bluegrass traditional songs. The song fit The Music From Hurley Mountain so well that I wanted to have it on the CD. After further research, I found the names of the writers. So there is the question of whether it is a traditional song.
mwe3: That song is about the Kaufman’s?
PLC: The song Family Reunion is a about the families in the area including the Kaufman’s .
mwe3: What can you tell us about the Kaufman Family and farm?
PLC: Since The Kaufmann family owns the farm where my LRS (Louie’s Recording Studio) is located, we became fast friends. I would help Mr. Kaufman as much as I could around the property. He is responsible for a lot of my musical career since the 1980’s by allowing me to have the recording studio. He always welcomed all Crowmatix and other the musicians who came to record here. He enjoyed the studio. It was a pleasure to rent the building from him. LRS Recording Studio (Louie’s Recording Studio) We became friends and Mr. Kaufman was very supportive of us having the Studio (Rock ‘n’ Roll Barn) and recording many artists here.
mwe3: Did you build your studio near the Kaufman farm?
PLC: The building is on the Kaufman Farm. It was an old cow barn which was converted into a recording studio
mwe3: The instrumental track that closed out both the DVD and the CD “Goodnight Hurley Moon” made me homesick for New York. It strangely echoes the “Sidewalks Of New York” which I guess is a traditional type of song? It was written in 1894 although you change the song enough to make it a haunting original. What a stunning way to close the DVD credits.
PLC: Thank you. “The Sidewalks Of New York” never came to mind but a nice compliment regardless. We wrote the instrumental Goodnight Hurley Moon many years ago – It had another title then – but it seemed to work well for the closing of the documentary.
mwe3: Are people “renting or streaming” the Hurley Mountain DVD in other parts of the world?
mwe3: Nice to have a real DVD of the movie, so when I watch it, for me it’s like going to the movies. MVD did a great job on the DVD pressing with the inserts.
PLC: MVD did a great job on all aspects of making the physical DVD and made a great trailer. We wanted the bonus tracks which are not on the streaming version. The DVD is available in many stores and sold on www.woodstockrecords.com
mwe3:Is it submitted to the various film festivals, or is even that not open?
PLC: PL&C will be submitting the Documentary to Film Festivals in the future. Right now, due to Covid 19 many organizations are still working on ideas as to how they want to set up their Festivals, etc.
mwe3: What projects do you have on tap for 2021? Will there be another new Professor Louie & The Crowmatix album in 2021?
PLC: Professor Louie & The Crowmatix are working on two new CD’s one CD of all original music and also a Blues CD.We are continuing to perform live Streaming concerts and we also have dates coming in for many concerts & Festivals for 2021-22…we will see if things are getting better all around the Country and if these performances will happen.