Aaron "Professor Louie" Hurwitz moved to Hurley, N.Y., during the mid-80s, when the musician, producer and studio engineer was asked to be part of the second generation of The Band.
He's been there ever since, and for his current ensemble, Professor Louie & the Crowmatix, Hurwitz assembled musicians from around the Woodstock area whose credits include Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Joe Jackson and Steve Forbert as well as The Band and solo groups for its member Levon Helm and Rick Danko.
"It's just a fantastic band of great players -- that simple," Hurwitz, 65, says by phone from his home in Hurley. "We all just started working together up there; I'd need someone to do something and so I'd bring in these local musicians to work on demos or a tune, and it just evolved that way, from me being in the studio so much."
Hurwitz may, at heart, be a studio rat, but he says the rootsy Crowmatix -- blending folk, blues, country, rock and gospel -- is an equally necessary outlet. "For my life I need the balance," he explains. "I need to be in the studio, where you create new things. But I love performing out for people and performing in front of people and seeing those songs we create in the studio come to life.
"So I need to do both. Otherwise I'm missing something."
The quintet's latest album, "Music From Hurley Mountain," mixes originals and some covers and traditional tunes that, as the title suggests, offers a homage to the Crowmatix's home town. The song inspirations came from real residents and long-told tales as well as the basic mood of the area, but in what Hurwitz hopes is an organic rather than academic manner.
"It was a really big challenge," he says. "We already have CDs out of (individual) songs, just stuff you put down and put together and that's your CD. But in this case we decided to do something that was more of an album, that told a real story and really gave you a sense of this place.
"We tried not to make it like a history book or a lecture. We tried to make it entertaining, so it took us a long time, a lot of writing and creative process coming up with ideas and different styles of music that fit all the different generations and decades of this area. It was hard but it was a lot of fun, and people really seem to like it."
Professor Louie & the Crowmatix
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21.
The Jazz Cafe in the Music Hall Center, 350 Madison St., Detroit.
Tickets are $5.
Call 313-887-8500 or visit jazzcafedetroit.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to