POTSDAM — Musician and North Country native Phil Hurley is planning a bittersweet return to his hometown this summer.
In 1987, Mr. Hurley and his band Gigolo Aunts moved from Potsdam to Boston. The label signed an agreement with RCA and toured extensively in the United States and Europe and recorded music for several films, including “That Thing You Do”, “The River Wild”, “Swimming With Sharks” and the title track from the movie “Dumb and Dumber” – “Where I Find My Paradise”.
In Austin, Texas, where Mr. Hurley currently resides, he co-founded South Austin Moonlighters. They have released four albums.
In February, Mr Hurley’s mother, Jane Hurley, died in Canton aged 88. She once taught second grade in the Carthage Central School District and later developed a kindergarten program at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Potsdam, where she taught for 18 years until retirement.
“We haven’t had a real type of gathering to celebrate his life,” Mr Hurley said. “We’re going to do it in August.”
But Mr. Hurley will remain after the tribute.
“I’ve been offered a gig at Ives Park in Potsdam on September 3,” he said. “In recent years, I have come to perform, I have only done acoustic shows. But I’m going to take advantage of the time up there to put together a little rock band and put on an electric show.
Band members will include Canton native Christian Parker, also a member of the Waydown Wailers. The two musicians knew each other growing up, but redeveloped their friendship during the pandemic when Mr. Parker called on Mr. Hurley’s musical talents for his recent musical projects. Mr. Hurley, who has a recording studio at his home, provided background tracks on two recent Mr. Parker albums.
“It’s funny how that friendship has paid off,” Mr Hurley said. “We’ve known each other since we were young, but now I talk to him every week. We check in and support each other.
On July 15, Mr. Hurley’s five-song EP, “The Firebird Sessions”, will be released by The Orchard, a major independent music distributor part of Sony Music. Mr. Parker’s music is also on the label.
Mr. Hurley said the track “Firebird,” recorded at his home and mixed at SubCat Studios in Syracuse, reflects a few things. For one, he plays a 1966 Gibson Firebird guitar on the EP.
“But there’s also a bit of a phoenix rising from the ashes because we recorded all of this digitally and I had a completely crashed hard drive and I thought I was going to lose the whole record,” said Mr Hurley. “Meticulously and painstakingly, I went back and was able to put it all back together with the help of Christian Parker and SubCat Records.”
Unlike his other musical adventures, “Phoenix Rising” is a solo project for Mr. Hurley. He recently left the South Austin Moonlighters after playing there for a decade.
“Just when COVID hit us, I started writing a lot and realized it was time for something new,” Mr Hurley said. “I’ve shared the ball in every band I’ve been in, whether it’s Gigolo Aunts or StoneHoney or South Austin Moonlighters for years, and I think it’s finally time to have something of my own. “
During his visit to the north of the country, Mr. Hurley has also tentatively scheduled acoustic shows at a few local restaurants.
“It’s already been a tough summer here in Texas,” he said. “I think we’ve already had 19 days of over 100 degrees in June. So August in upstate New York sounds pretty lovely to me.