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Old souls: Sam Hurrie and Doug Cox perform in Nanaimo
With nearly a century of music making between them, Doug Cox and Sam Hurrie are avatars of pretty well every style of blues, roots, and acoustic music.
These musical ‘old souls’ came by their expertise the old-fashioned way: endlessly honing their skills during a lifetime of playing and performing. And as is often the case, their musical pilgrimage began while they were in their teens.
Toronto-born Hurrie was initially obsessed with the pre-Second World War blues of Robert Johnson and Son House and already had his own R&B band in the mid-’60s. On forays to New York to play and record, Hurrie, a gifted electric guitarist, regularly jammed with Jimi Hendrix and also did a few dates at the Electric Circus where he opened for Muddy Waters and Blood Sweat and Tears.
For his part, Alberta native Cox was also initially drawn to the blues, particularly bottleneck slide guitar. Cox soon discovered the dobro and before long earned a national and international reputation as he skillfully fused a wide range of acoustic roots and Americana musical styles.
Cox’s dexterity with so many styles has seen him play and record with such diverse superstars as Indian slide guitarist Salil Bhatt, Hawaii’s Anela Kahiamoe, David Lindley and expat Rwandan the Mighty Popo.
The two musicians first met at a gig on the West Coast’s Powell River in the 1990s and felt an instant connection.
“The music we instinctively wanted to play was blues oriented, but came from the perspective of guys who grew up in the world of rock ‘n’ roll,” Cox said.
For many years they toured all over Canada and even hopped the pond to Europe a few times.
They also had a weekly gig in Comox for seven years, playing at the Edge Pub (which has since burned down). During this time they also recorded a few albums, leaving behind a rich musical legacy and memories.
Things have come full circle, and Cox and Hurrie have just released a compilation named Revisited as they once more hit the touring circuit with renewed energy and an ever-deeper feeling for the music they both love.
Hurrie still favours electric slide guitar, with Cox doing most of the acoustic chores – on guitar, mandolin and dobro.
The duo performs at Headliners Sunday (Sept. 8), 7:30-10 p.m. Tickets $20 at Arbutus Music, Coastal Water Store, Fascinating Rhythm and Headliners. Please call 250-585-1811.