GT Hurley has been a Marine, a miner and a horse breeder during his life and times. In recent years, he has also added professional Western musician to his trades.
His music is starting to attract notice. He was nominated for the 2012 Crescendo Award, which recognizes up-and-comers to the Western scene. He got the nod in part due to the release last year of his debut album, “Tough Horses.”
“I’ve been playing and writing since I was in my early teens,” said Hurley. “It is not new. But I had a 20-year career in the military, so music took a back seat. I played periodically, but it was not a continuous thing. Life has a way of keeping us busy. I’ve got to do it now while I can.”
Hurley has always loved music of numerous styles.
“I have been influenced by many things — Waylon Jennings, Marty Robbins, a little Nashville country mixed in, people like Gordon Lightfoot, too. I always liked a good ballad. Good stories. And, well, the stories of the West are cool.”
After his time in the Marines was done, Hurley and his family settled in the East. “It was just not home,” he said. “Then we came out to Montana, and decided it was a good place to raise our son. My dad was a quarter-horse breeder, too, so I guess you could say that part is a family business.”
Though Hurley loves the wild, high country that he now calls home, and he writes about the land and his horses often, he is also something of a historian. Thus, he loves using a good true story.
“A lot of my inspiration comes from history,” Hurley said of his material. “I don’t have a tremendous amount of drink-a-beer-pick-up-a-chick tunes. I am more about ballads. But I have some just-for-fun stuff, too.”
For a house concert this week in Plain City, Hurley will focus on music from his new CD, which mixes stories about horses and the cowboy lifestyle with history songs.
One of his historical pieces on the album, “Granite Mountain Fire,” is about a tragic copper mine fire in Butte, Mont., in 1917. Nearly 150 miners lost their lives in the fire, the largest loss of life in American hard-rock mining history. Hurley is seeing to it that descendants of the perished miners, most now in Ireland, get copies of the CD.
Hurley was pleased to have Dave Stamey, a California-based star of Western music, produce his CD.
“Of course, it is always good to have a well-recognized artist in the field helping you, but he is also my friend,” said Hurley. “He taught me everything about recording. The whole ball of wax.”
Hurley said he and Stamey went for a “pure music” sound — not overproduced or polished. They used musicians that Stamey plays with regularly, including Dorian Michael on guitars; Ken Hustad, upright bass; Bill Severence, drums; Kenny Blackwell, mandolin and guitar; and Annie Lydon on backup vocals. Hurley adds his own acoustic guitar to the mix.
“The entire crew was a tremendous asset,” he said.
Hurley comes to Plain City as a friend of Lu Middleton, who helped arrange this house concert, and also Western musicians Steve and Terri Taylor of Harrisville — aka Stampede.
“When I was in Billings, I heard Terri’s song ‘Born to Ride’ and I really wanted to put that song on my CD. Later, they introduced me to Lu.
“I sure hope to build a following and get back to Utah often, starting with this show. Steve and Terri are good friends, and I am looking forward to seeing Lu again, too. Seeing good friends — what could be wrong with that? We’ll have fun.”