Performance Review: Hunter at the Buttonwood Tree, March 1997
By Pete Brunelli
Reprinted unedited from the Harp-L Archives by permission of the author
After a near miss last year, I finally saw Richard Hunter, live and in person, at the Buttonwood Tree in Middletown, CT. The Buttonwood is a reading room/performance/exhibit space and as was immediately apparent, has one of the most “live” rooms around. Stone floor, Big windows, hard walls, and high ceilings all contributed to an excellent room sound. I don’t know if I would want a rock band in there, but the natural reverb was just about right.
Having never heard or seen Richard, I had only my preconceptions to guide me. By the second piece, they were shattered. I had expected a chromatic-centered performer and a more sterile approach. Richard blows some of the hottest acoustic diatonic that I have ever heard, and covers an exhausting amount of emotional ground.
For those of you who are planning on jumping on my use of the “acoustic” adjective, DON’T. I mean acoustic, unamplified, unfettered harmonica music.
The small but enthusiastic audience was treated to one killer performance after another. The list for the first set drew heavily from Richard’s first album “The Act of Being Free in One Act”. The second set was heavily populated with material that is headed for Richard’s second album, to be recorded this spring. One number, a cool and upbeat crawl, was introduced as being about a day old and as-yet un-named. An ad-hoc naming contest ensued!
During the intermission, Richard was fielding questions about his harp selection and the tunings that he was using. This led to Richard letting the audience know what harp he was using for most of the second set. As a prelude to his upcoming workshop/performance at the Atticus, also in Middletown, I am sure that he hooked the players in the audience. I know that I will be there.
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