Family Affair: A Hunter gathering
Blake Hunter, Peter Hunter, Debbie Hunter, Tom O'Connor, Paul Rosner, Teswar Wood
at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar
There was this house, a huge log cabin with various rooms and inlets, an upstairs with large bedrooms complete with sloping ceilings. I loved taking the out-of-the-way drive to Batesville to hang out with my friends who stayed there. There was always food. Plus there was a pool table, frisbee golf course, and ample yard space for a short-sided pick-up game of soccer. What I loved most was the record collection.
About a year after I stopped hanging out at the house, I met a man named Peter Hunter while I was serving coffee at the Mudhouse. Every morning a double macchiatto accompanied with a smile, and sometimes a latté for his wife Debbie. He was one of those regulars I enjoyed seeing. Months passed. We became more thoroughly acquainted. He told me he built homes and had built one in Batesville. Small world... yeah, he built and raised a family in the same house I spent hours listening to classic jazz records, watching Premiership soccer, and scratching on the 8 ball.
Anyway... one day Peter comes in to The Mudhouse with a huge grin on his face. He wants to use the Mudhouse computer to download a few songs his son had recorded while schooling in Boston. He played a few songs through the computers' speakers. Even through the whirring and hissing of the grinder and espresso machine, I was really impressed.
Peter's son Blake came home from Boston for the holidays. In some strange twist of fate, Blake and I ended up at the same dinner party. It was there I heard about his show at Twisted Branch. I was psyched to finally get a chance to hear him play. The double whammy was when I walked into Twisted Branch for the show and saw Peter standing behind a hammer Dulcimer playing old folk tunes with his wife Debbie on fiddle and another man (Tom O'Connor) on guitar. I stood silently in the center of the room watching as Peter's hands hovered over his instrument playing every note so calculated and delicately. They played the type of traditional music I can get into: a cool, relaxed kind with not a lot of twang and a whole lot of heart.
For their last song they invited Blake up to play along. As if to punctuate the obvious bridging of the generation gap, Blake plugged in his electric guitar and spiced up their final jam with a little psychedelic flair.
After a short break Blake sang a few tunes by himself. The first, a Jeff Buckley song that I'm sure the man himself would have been impressed to hear. Blake's voice angelically dances around those high tenor ranges with apparent ease. More importantly, his passion shines through with every struck chord and sustained note.
After a short set on his own, Blake invited up Teswar Wood on bass and Paul Rosner on drums for a jam. I, unfortunately, could only stay for a few tunes, but what I heard was tasteful. Rosner is a minimalist pocket drummer whose style meshed well with Blake's. It was obvious that the trio didn't play together very often, but they kept the crowd thoroughly engaged.
As I strolled down the Mall on my way to my car I couldn't help but think how great it was to see a family so steeped in musical tradition. The Hunter family are like modern day griots sharing life experience through song. I guess they are right when they say good habits are formed at home. A thought punctuated by the smile of approval on Debbie's face as she watched her son perform.
The family that plays together...
PHOTO BY DAMANI HARRISON