Blog, Hunter's Effects, Hunter's Music, Recommended Artists & Recordings, Upcoming Performances

Recording for the “The Lucky One” is Set for September in Philly

I've been hard at work writing songs and recording demos for the upcoming record sessions. The tentative title for this project is "The Lucky One." We've set the date for the sessions in late September, and we've got guitarist Mike "Slo-Mo" Brenner, who I've played with on several of Ed Abbiatti's records, and some of his favorite rhythm section buddies lined up to handle that end. In addition to playing harp in various amped and un-amped configurations, I plan to sing and play keys on this record too. Keys are entering the picture now because I'm finding that there are just some things that I express better with an electric piano than with a harmonica. Go figure. (Perhaps one of those things is a desire to be perfectly in tune...) This record is going to be dark, rocking and jammy. The touch points are Morphine, Little Walter, and the White Stripes. My strategy for these sessions is to rely on the players to create an organic sound with lots of personality, because this is not one of those sessions where there are going to be 1000 tracks going into the mix. This is one of those sessions where the people in the room define the sound. As Mark Ronson said in a recent interview, "A bunch of dudes in a room playing the shit out of something will never date." The KickStarter campaign will start before long. In the meantime, here are the lyrics for the title piece. These are copyright 2016 Richard Hunter, all rights reserved. Enjoy. The Lucky One Chorus everything's relative with fathers and sons in my house I was the lucky one The one who changed The one who found love The one who's alive The lucky one 1. My father was a winner Who thought he was a loser Anything that wore a skirt Walked by and he'd pursue her I guess he had his reasons For doing what he done One thing I know, he didn't show A father to his sons Chorus everything's relative with fathers and sons in my house I was the lucky one The one who changed The one who found love The one who's alive The lucky one 2. My father's lies became his truth He hollowed out inside Embraced the dark side of his life And that is where he died One brother fled to Mexico One went to Paris France I went through lots of places Till I found out who I am Chorus everything's relative with fathers and sons in my house I was the lucky one The one who changed The one who found love The one who's alive The lucky one 3. You came along and saved my life Long before I saved yours I know that I been lucky Maybe more than I deserved I wasn't taught to be a man To raise a family I didn't know what love was Till you showered it on me Chorus everything's relative with fathers and sons in my house I was the lucky one The one who changed The one who found love The one who's alive The lucky one Chorus everything's relative with fathers and sons in my house I was the lucky one The one who changed The one who found love The one who's alive The lucky one

Blog, Upcoming Performances

Back to the Windmill in Brixton with Lowlands on March 6

I'm playing an acoustic set 8 PM Sunday, March 6 at the Windmill in Brixton, London, UK with Lowlands. You can find out more about it here. This is gonna be a great show, at least if you like great songs, great guitar (Lowlands regular Robert Diana will be on hand) and great harmonica without a lot of other stuff to get in the way. See you there, I hope.

Blog, Upcoming Performances

Richard Hunter Harmonica Seminar in Connecticut on September 20!

Photo by Chiara Meatelli

Photo by Chiara Meatelli

On Sunday, September 20, I'll be running a harmonica seminar at The Sound Retreat, a new facility in Chester, Connecticut. You can read about the Sound Retreat here. Here's the skinny on this event: Famed harmonica virtuoso, educator and harp authority Richard Hunter will be teaching a harmonica workshop at The Sound Retreat on Sunday, September 20th from 11 AM to 3 PM. This workshop is for musicians who have already started with the instrument but need guidance to get to the next level. The workshop will cover: -Basic techniques: How you stand and breathe has more of an effect on your sound than you might think. We're going to spend a little time talking about how to get the most from your body when you play the harp. -Working with a band: When you play with a band, there's lots more to think about than when you're playing solo. We're going to talk about active listening and the role(s) you play in the band. -Chord textures: The harmonica can make an amazing variety of chords, and most players can get a lot more out of the instrument by using chording more effectively. -Alternate tunings and their uses: Did I mention chords? You can make the heavens smile with a few non-standard tunings in your pocket. -Recording and micing the harmonica: If you play, sooner or later you need to hear yourself coming from a pair of stereo speakers. We'll talk about recording as a learning tool and as a means to make your work more widely heard, and the tools that work for each. -Amplification and effects pedals: Get loud. Get into some new roles with the band. Get happy. I intend to focus heavily on what players need to know to play more effectively with others. There's an art to playing with other musicians, and we're going to put a lot of time into that art. I'll do some playing, and I intend to bring (at least some) seminar attendees up to play as well. Space is limited to 10 participants so we can make sure everybody gets plenty of attention. The fee for this seminar is $60 if you register after Sunday Sep. 13; until that deadline is past, the fee is $50. If you're traveling from a far distance to this seminar, we may be able to put you up for a night at the Sound Retreat; let us know if you think you need it. The fee includes a simple lunch. Participants can feel free to record the seminar as audio or video for personal use only. Participants must agree that the material in this seminar is copyrighted, and they can't share their recordings with anyone else, whether for compensation or otherwise, in any form, via any distribution mechanism including manual ones (such as, for example only: by hand, via email, via Youtube) without prior permission. We will also record this event, and if any participant wants a copy of that recording, we'll be glad to supply it now or in future for the personal use of that participant. To register and reserve your seat, follow the ticket purchase link the event page. Please note: a "going" status will not hold your space--you need to register and reserve the seat. I'll look forward to seeing you there!

Blog, Hunter's Music, Upcoming Performances

Live Streaming for the Corporate Battle of the Bands Finals on September 12!

Gartner in the Cloud performing at the Inc. Magazine Battle of the Bands regional semifinal in Washington DC, May 30 2015

Gartner in the Cloud performing at the Inc. Magazine Battle of the Bands regional semifinal in Washington DC, May 30 2015

You may recall that Gartner in the Cloud, the band I played with in the Corporate Battle of the Bands semifinals last May in Washington DC, won that round and is going to Cleveland to play in the finals on September 12. I have just learned that the show will be streamed live, so those of you who can’t make the trek to Cleveland can see the show as it happens on your Internet-ready device. The link will be live at 7pm Eastern (New York) time on September 12 on the homepage of www.rockhall.com. Get some beers and popcorn, open up some space in the living room in case you want to dance, and turn it up loud on the best speakers you’ve got. We’re playing to win. This band plays classic rock and roll, loud and proud, and the harmonica is an important part of the band's sound. My rig for this show consists of a Digitech iStomp running Swingshift and a Digitech RP500 running my patch set, customized for this show with tweaks to the sounds and to the layout of those sounds on the RP. There's a lot of variety in the tones I use with this band, and some very different approaches to rock harmonica to go with it. Check it out online next Saturday.

Blog, Hunter's Effects, Recommended Gear, Upcoming Performances

Going Out to Jam with the Zoom G3

I'm traveling to London tonight, and tomorrow (Sunday March 15) I plan to sit in at the Sunday afternoon jam at Ain't Nothin' But the Blues. I'm taking a kit that includes 18 diatonic harmonicas--most of the standard Richter tunings in keys from low F to F, with the rest comprised of Dorian minors, Natural minors, Country, and Melody Makers. It's what I need to play most of the pieces in my solo repertoire, and it's a good kit for blues too. I add a C chromatic to the pile and I'm ready for a jam session. The kit also includes a Zoom G3 running my latest patch set for that device, my refurbished Audix Fireball mic, an XLR cable with a rat-tail transformer, and a long 1/4" cable to connect the G3 to the PA, which I know from experience at ANBTB is across the stage from where I stand when I play. The G3 runs on batteries, which is the main reason I'm taking it instead of the Digitech RP360XP--it's a lot faster to set up when you don't have to find a power outlet. The last time I played at ANBTB, I had the G3 with only a draft set of patches, plus a different mic, and I couldn't get comfortable with the gear--too much feedback, for a start. The Fireball mic is easily the most feedback-resistant mic I have ever used, so that eliminates one problem. I've completed the G3 patch set since then, so the patches are engineered to be louder and more feedback resistant too. I'm expecting the gear to do its job this time around, which of course makes it more enjoyable for me and everyone else in the room too. The specific patches I intend to lean on most include the BasmTapEco (Bassman amp with tape echo) and BasmVib (Bassman amp with vibrato). The former is a nice Chicago sound that works well with and without the Tape Echo slapback, and the latter is as close as you can get to an organ sound with the G3, a nice changeup from the basic Chicago sound. I'll file a full report on how the gear worked on my return. In the meantime, if you're in London on Sunday afternoon, drop by Ain't Nothin' But The Blues.

Blog, Hunter's Effects, Recommended Gear, Upcoming Performances

Jamming in Driggs, RP360XP vs. RP355

I arrived in Tetonia, Idaho on Friday last week, and on Sunday morning I headed to Pendl's, my favorite bakery in Driggs or anywhere else, to sit in with my friend Michael Batdorf, who plays acoustic guitar and sings lots of his own songs and some by other people. His basic style is Americana, and he takes the chord progressions farther than you'd expect in that genre. Michael greeted me warmly, and I was set up in time to start the first set at 9 AM. I guess I haven't spelled it out before, so here's what it takes me to set up my basic road kit with amp. If I'm running straight to the PA, I skip step 3. But I do prefer to take the amp when I can. I just like the sound of air moving. This complete procedure takes about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much flexibility I have in terms of where stuff gets positioned.
  • Unpack the gear--harps, mics, cables, power strip, etc.
  • Plug in the power strip.
  • Position the amp and plug it in to the power strip.
  • Position the RP360XP and plug it into the power strip.
  • Plug the lo-hi-z converter into the mic cable.
  • Plug the mic cable into the mic and the RP.
  • Run a line out from the RP360XP to the amp
  • Place the harps where I want them onstage so I can quickly and easily get to the harp I want.
  • I was a little worried during setup because I was standing--and placing my gear on--damp grass. I was concerned about the potential for electric shock,but no problems there. Anyway, the music just got better and better. I played a few too many of my big licks in the first few songs, but then I caught myself and began playing what I thought of as "arrangements" for the songs--signature (repeated) melodies from the harp, with different approaches to different sections of a song. It was pretty clear that something very good was happening, and to my dismay, my Zoom H4 chose that very time to run out of space on the SD card. So no recording. I've cleared the SD card, so I'll get a recording next week. By the time the gig was halfway over, the crew included local stalwarts Greg Creamer and Brian Maw, the latter of which I of course played plenty of gigs with a couple of summers ago. The jams were surprisingly cohesive, with one hilarious episode involving "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" in which everyone fumbled the structure, and we eventually coalesced on performing the song as an E blues. I had to modify the rhythm of the licks to make the words fit, but it solved what could have been a train wreck.

    The RP360XP: a very nice device, and the host of my latest patch set

    The RP360XP: a very nice device, and the host of my latest patch set

    I used the Digitech RP360XP and a Peavey KB2 amp for this gig. The rig sounded great, of course, but I learned something about playing with FX at low volume. Did I mention that the volume was VERY low? The amp was positioned ahead of me and to my left, and the volume was set so low that I had trouble hearing what the FX were really doing. The audience could hear it easily; everyone in the place went bananas when I started soloing through my new tenor-sax-with-wahwah patch (which I'll distribute to my patch set licensees soon). But what I heard mostly was the harp in my hands, not the amp. Lesson learned: for very low volume gigs, put the amp behind me, not in front. It's not like feedback is an issue under those circumstances, and it's a lot easier to hear what you sound like than to imagine what you sound like. The tenor sax wah patch aside, mostly I was pretty conservative with my amp and FX choices. I used my DIRROOM and DIRHALL patches, direct signal from the mic with room and hall reverb respectively, on a lot of stuff; acoustic harp with reverb works with acoustic guitar, duh. I also used the TW_SLP patch, Twin Reverb amp with slapback delay, on a few tunes; it's a clean sound with a lot of power and cut. I used my BASROTON patch--Bassman amp model with rotary speaker on/off under footpedal control--on a lot of stuff, especially the rockers where I wanted to sound like an organ on the accompaniments and like an amped-up harp on the leads. And I used a few octave and double octave down patches for various bass and low-saxish stuff. When I wanted Chicago in the sound, I used a range of patches based on the Gibson GA40 and Fender Champ with various cabinets. I especially like the sound of the Champ amp model with the Tweed Deluxe 1x12 cabinet model, the patch I call CHAMPD in my patch sets for the RP360XP, 500, and 1000.
    RP355 in the middle of the red board: it's great, but the RP360XP is great-er

    RP355 in the middle of the red board: it's great, but the RP360XP is great-er

    I keep an RP355 at my place in Tetonia just in case, and I had the opportunity to do a side-by-side comparison with the RP360XP. No surprises there: the RP360XP sounds better. The 355 sounds great--just check out "Me and the Devil," the new release by Ed Abbiatti and Chris Cacavas--but the 360XP is noticeably more articulate and vivid. From this point on, the 360XP is the default device for most of my gigs, with the RP500 the leading choice for my solo looping gigs. I'll post some samples of the latest RP360XP sounds soon. Stay tuned for those. In the meantime, if you're planning to be near the Teton Valley anytime soon, I'll be sitting in with Michael again on Sunday 17 August, with Brian Maw's band at the Knotty Pine in Victor on Saturday 23 August, and with Phil Round's band at the Stagecoach in Jackson on either Sunday 17 August or Sunday 24 August. Fun fun fun...

    Blog, Hunter's Effects, Hunter's Music, Recommended Gear, Recorded Performances (live and otherwise), Upcoming Performances

    Playing in Milan on April 5, Taking the RP360XP

    I'm doing a gig in Milan, Italy at Spazio Teatro 89 on April 5 with Ed Abbiatti and his band Lowlands. It's an all-acoustic show in (I'm told) a big theatre, and it's going to be recorded and video'd, so there should be some cool stuff to see and hear afterwards (like an "Unplugged" DVD). I'm spending a few more days in Milan after that to record a few more songs with Ed and Lowlands for the next record. I've been on just about every record Ed's made with this group, and it's cool to be part of that history. I'm bringing the Digitech RP360XP with me on this trip, not the RP500. I ran the two boxes side by side tonight, comparing identical patch setups, and the RP360XP sounded better overall--the same vivid tones as the 500, which after all is based on the same chip, but bigger and more detailed somehow. Like Bill Clayton at Digitech tech support told me: subtly better. That wouldn't be enough to get me off the 500, which has very, very superior performance features compared to the 360XP, except for two things: 1) The 360XP runs on Euro standard wall power as well as US standard, and the 500 doesn't. So I'd have to drag a transformer to the gig with the 500. Much simpler with the 360XP. Also... 2) With this band, I won't be doing the rapid tone changes I use on my own stuff--for the most part I'll stick to one basic sound per song, and use the expression pedal to modulate the sound. So the performance features of the RP500 aren't so important this time. And oh, yeah: if you're flying a long way, every extra pound and cubic inch in your luggage matters. The 360XP is a lot smaller and lighter than the 500, and that makes a difference here. (However, I have to carry a direct box with the 360XP, because there are no XLR outs.) The other big difference for me is that the RP500 is programmed with all the tailored sounds I use for my own repertoire, as well as the v17 patch set I offer in my store. The RP360XP only has the v17 patch set in it, and even a few of those patches need some tweaking. (Did you wonder why I haven't released a set for the RP360 yet? That's why.) However, I don't think I'll miss the customized tones on this gig. Most of them are variations on the v17 sounds anyway, with EQ adjustments for the layered arrangements I do in my solo work. So I don't expect to miss the repertoire-specific sounds, which is a good thing given that I don't have time to program them into the RP360XP before I get to Milan, either. The biggest problem I may have is convincing Ed to let me use the RP--it's an Unplugged gig, after all. But I'll work on it. Stay tuned for more details on the gig. See you in Milan.

    Blog, Hunter's Music, Upcoming Performances

    Hunter and Berkenfield at Alpine Wines tonight in Driggs ID

    I'm playing Alpine Wines in Driggs ID tonight (Wednesday, August 7 2013) with Susan Berkenfield on vocals. This duo is turning into a very interesting project, where I'm learning to use the looper (and a new, expanded setup that includes a keyboard) for jazz as well as blues and rock. I've been focused for a year or so on using the looper with harmonica; adding keyboards to the loop arsenal makes for a bigger and more varied sound. It also makes for more complicated moves within songs, but you give something up for everything you get, don'tcha? It's pretty cool to lay down a piano part (or two, or three) for "My Favorite Things", then solo on chromatic harp until it's time to return to the keys. Yes, I'd rather have McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones behind me, but I'll take the looper until they drop in.
    Alpine Wines in Driggs ID--wine and song at the very least

    Alpine Wines in Driggs ID--wine and song at the very least

    I'm recording these shows, and should have some interesting stuff to listen to in a few days. Stay tuned.

    Blog, Recommended Artists & Recordings, Upcoming Performances

    Upcoming Gig at Alpine Wines in Driggs, Aug 2 2013

    Alpine Wines in Driggs ID--wine and song at the very least

    Alpine Wines in Driggs ID--wine and song at the very least

    I've just booked a gig for Friday, August 2 at Alpine Wines on Main Street in Driggs, Idaho. The first set starts at 7 PM, and overlaps the Friday night wine tasting, so come early! I'm performing at this gig with Susan Berkenfield, who I've played with on and off for about 25 years. She can really turn on the heat with her voice, and let's face it, I can't. I'll be happy to focus on the harmonica and keys at this gig and let her do the vocal heavy lifting. For those who want to sample the wares before they drive to the show, here's a version of Bob Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" that I recorded with her in 1998. Enjoy, and see you at the gig. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry--Richard Hunter and Susan Berkenfield

    Blog, MPH: Maw/Preston/Hunter, Upcoming Performances

    Preparing to record my first EP with Brian Maw

    Brian Maw is going into the studio in Idaho Falls this weekend to record some tunes for a new EP. I'm waiting for the mp3s so I can lay down the harmonica tracks in my home studio. One of the first couple of songs will be "So Sweet," the very rough live recording of which I posted to this site not long ago. I will almost certainly use the same approach I used on the live recording, i.e. the same yearning, bluesy motifs played through my CHAMPB patch from the new v16 Huntersounds patch set for the Digitech RP 250/255/350/355. I also have the luxury of being able to try other approaches, too, if I want to, and I suppose I do, even though I think that ultimately it's most important to put down something that shows people what the band really sounds like. In other words, I guess I want to make sure that whatever I put on this track can be played live, which of course would not exclude changing the sounds I'm running on the RP355 at any given point in the song. Recording is so much fun (when it's not a giant problem)! I'm really looking forward to this stuff. We plan to have the EP available for sale in May 2013, so stay tuned to this blog!

    Next Page »