Interview and photos by Scott Preston
Oakhurst has had a reputation for torching bar and theater stages throughout the US with its unique sound and unbridled stage energy for years. But lately, the band has also created a stir on major festival stages, cruise ships and European tours. The band’s adept picking, sweet harmonies, and citybilly swagger have cleary come from playing 200+ shows a year in such varied environments. Oakhurst’s unpretentious, go-for-it interpretation of a genre that’s often handled too reverently, sparks interest in bluegrass by folks who don’t know Doc Watson from Doc Holliday.
Along the way Oakhurst has shared stages with very diverse national talent such as John Hiatt, Nickel Creek, The Flaming Lips, Emmylou Harris, Barenaked Ladies, Yard Dogs Roadshow, Bela Fleck, The Ditty Bops, The Radiators, Junior Brown, Lyle Lovett, Lynyrd Skynard, Johnny Lang & Guster.
Oakhurst has also shared the stage with future and current Colorado legends as well. The list includes Yonder Mountain String Band, Devotchka, Rose Hill Drive, the Motet, Pete Wernick, Drew Emmit, Billy Nershi and Vince Herman. (from porchmusic.com)
Cincy Groove: So do you handle the bands publicity?
Johnny James Qualley: Yes, I handle the bands publicity. Being a founding member its one of those things I have been doing since back in the beginning. We have everything else in place except a publicist, but since we have all the other stuff taken care of it gives me more time to do the publicity. We have a great booking agent here in Boulder, Co. Its great not to have to worry about booking our shows anymore.
Cincy Groove: How many shows does Oakhurst play in a year?
Johnny James Qualley: Anywhere from 200 - 250 shows a year. So far this year we have been to 9 countries and 25 different states, and the year is only half over. We are getting ready for our first run of the year through the east coast which is always a lot of fun.
Cincy Groove: I have seen Oakhurst perform at 4 hookahville's, how did you end up hooking up with Trickle from Legend Valley?
Johnny James Qualley: Our manager Erin, is married to Hunter Shoemaker who is from Newark, OH. He and his older brother J.R. ended up growing up with Trickle. So 2 1/2 years ago when Hunter came into the picture, Erin was really trying to book tours for us. We went out there to Legend Valley and played our first hookahville. Trickle loved our music and the guys from ekoostik hookah are were good to us. We ended up doing four hookahville's in a row. We missed this past spring's hookahville because we were in Europe.
Cincy Groove: So how did the idea come about to ride around on the golf carts playing music at hookahville?
Johnny James Qualley: I think thats really how we got noticed out there. The first time we ever rode around on the golf cart playing was at that hookahville. Trickle came by with his crew and 5 or 6 golf carts. He loaded us up and we went around playing at people's campsites until the sun came up.
Cincy Groove: Whats one of the more interesting places Oakhurst has played?
Johnny James Qualley: Back in January and February we were performing on Jam Cruise and one of the places that we repeatedly went to was the Grand Cayman Islands. A couple of our band members just went out to have a couple beers and check out he island. They met the owner of this club and he said the next time we were on the island we should go and play a show at his place. So the next time we went through we showed up at this place, they had fried caunch set out and all of this great food. They had this guy standing out on the curb with a sign. We ended up packing this little tiny bar.
Read the full Interview here