Jim Wurster is a man of many moods and any number of unlikely scenarios. As a teacher and musician, he works hard to attain success for both himself and others nearly every single day, and the fact that he dares to dabble in Americana, a genre that’s mostly out of sync with nearly everything else the South Florida music scene has to offer, makes those twin challenges all the more daunting.
Nevertheless, Wurster is looking toward the future. After 33 years in the classroom, he plans to retire at the end of this school year, allowing him to focus entirely on making music, something he’s done for the better of the past 30 years — first, at the helm of the band Black Janet, later along with his band the Atomic Cowboys, and sometimes, entirely on his own.
“It’s bittersweet,” Wurster says of his pending departure from the classroom. “Teaching was my calling. I knew it the first day I stepped in the classroom. So many great memories,
Indeed, Wurster has always been prone to pursue a muse, whether it’s one that’s driven by those darker demons or simply his desire to create supple melodies by himself or in the company of others. Consequently, his new album, aptly titled No Joke, finds him surrounded by some of South Florida’s finest — Omine Eager, Trish Sheldon, Daphna Rose, Karen Feldner, Alyssa McDoom, and Tim Swag among them. And while the album is as strong as ever — all the more so considering the fact that Wurster wrote all the songs save a somber cover of Neil Young’s “Down by the River” — it too springs from unexpected origins.
“This record was really not planned,” Wurster explains. “(Music veteran) Vinnie Fontana approached me about producing a remake of the Black Janet song ‘Love Thirsty.’ It went so well, he asked for more material. After recording seven songs, he said we need some rockers. So, that is how ‘Best Bad Love’ and ‘Psychedelic Hindu Guru’ came about.
“He also offered to fund the entire project,” Wurster adds. “It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
In addition, Fontana brought a unique credibility to the project — specifically, a background rooted in a legendary Miami music label. His ideas and expertise, combined with Wurster’s own sources of musical associates, resulted in an accomplished cast of guest players.
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“He’s been in the business since he was 15,” Wurster says of the producer. “At that
As does Wurster himself. Each of the nine tracks find him taking on a different persona, from the cool crooner of “Psychedelic Hindu Guru” and “Yes They Did” to the role of Americana ambassador on opening track “No Joke.” Indeed, as its title suggests, No Joke may mark a new beginning for Wurster, but it bodes well for what’s still in store.
Jim Wurster & The Atomic Cowboys perform at the Zen Mystery Anniversary Party, 55 N. Federal Highway, Dania Beach, Saturday, June 18.
Other featured acts include the Mariana Trenchcoats, Blue Sky Drive, Matt Calderin, and the Fortune Tellers. Music starts at 7 p.m. No cover. Call 954-241-4655.