When James Hunter was growing up in Colchester, England, I bet he listened to a much different bunch of records than his mates. I can see a whole lot of Sam Cooke, old Elvis, and maybe some ska records on his teenaged turntable, instead of what his peers might have preferred. Hunter is an old soul, and once again he dazzled me as I watched him perform tonight from the balcony couch at the Iron Horse.
Hunter caws like a cat, scratching and yowwing and yipping, and always has a smile on his face while he plucks those delicate notes. The R&B band is so unlike most bands on the stage here. Hunter plays the only guitar, then two saxophones, alto and baritone, then a sparse drum and a Hammond organ. Hunter’s got the only mike on the stage, we only need his voice to pull all the songs together. For rhythm, they’ve got the two saxmen echoing and punching out perfect small notes to the beat.
Karen, a friend of Joe’s, hadn’t ever seen the band, and she was thoroughly impressed with the smooth s0und of this stellar quintet. She too liked those horns and marveled at the way Hunter can twist his voice, moving back from the microphone to soften the sound at the end. The songs nearly all held a similar theme–woman who stray, men who want them back, and the heartache of losing them, time after time.
On our way into the club we spotted Hunter in the tour bus window, blowing cigarette smoke out with a smile.