Episode 6: ——- Dig what I’m doing? Consider donating $5 or more at the bottom of this post
Back in 2002, blues artist Corey Harris phoned to tell me that he was playing at Pearl Street Nightclub (Northampton, MA) and asked if I’d like to come. He said he was opening for a 7-string jazz guitarist, named Charlie Hunter. I was at school and had not yet traveled much outside of Boston, so after I hung up the phone, I hopped in my Subaru and I was on my way.
I love seeing new musicians, so I was excited to see Charlie’s set after Corey’s opening set. That night, the way Charlie played guitar was so fresh to the ear. Having the extra low string on his guitar allowed him to create a much fuller sound than most guitarists, giving the illusion that there were more people playing with him than just him alone. The tonal aspect was not the only thing that impressed me though, it was also how he used his signature instrument to make his music come together. He respects the bass lines and how they work together with the melodies and harmony in each tune. Charlie plays each of these parts like they are indeed separate instruments, but combines them to create the sounds of one great band.
Since that night, I have followed his career, seeing him in a variety of musical situations: a duo with vocals, a full band with a horn section, and in this “Pun Picks” session with his longtime friend and collaborator, drummer Scott Amendola. These two have been playing together on and off for about 20 years and were also both members of the band TJ Kirk. Watching them perform is a real treat. Their energy is infectious and their music is uplifting. One reporter in the Bay area said “After two decades, these two are telepathic, into one another’s moves.”
On tour with their new CD, “Not Getting Behind Is the New Getting Ahead,” Charlie and Scott are showcasing their love for jazz, funk, rock and blues with their hints of popular motifs and masterful improvisation. I must add that both Charlie and Scott are two of the kindest musicians that I have ever met. Contrary to popular belief, musicians on tour don’t have it that easy. They usually drive from city to city, setting up and playing their show, breaking down their gear, and then it’s on to the next place. Not to mention, sometimes they have workshops and radio appearances as well. It’s physically and mentally exhausting, especially when the musicians are doing every aspect of the business themselves. When it comes right down to it, what makes a true musician happy is indeed the music itself. That is obvious from seeing Charlie and Scott play and their music reflects this happiness back to the listener.
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