Direct from England, the rhythm & blues sound of James Hunter Six
Accomplished rhythm and blues singer and songwriter, James Hunter, has earned an international following with a career built on solid, soulful live and studio performances. Along with his band, Hunter will be performing a Wisconsin-exclusive concert at the historic Thrasher Opera House in downtown Green Lake on May 14 at 7:30 p.m. Having earned a reputation as a soul powerhouse, Hunter is heralded for his talents both as a live performer and perhaps even more so as a songwriter.
Hunter has a voice that stands out not only for its natural beauty and grit, but for its honesty. And though his voice is unmistakably his own, he delivers his songs with the kind of soulful abandon that often evokes Ray Charles and Otis Redding. The New Yorker describes his "tight, taut compositions” as "rooted in American soul music without being bound to it.”
Over the last decade, he’s toured extensively around the world on the club, theatre, and festival circuits, steadily growing a dedicated audience comprised of hardened gig-goers, old-school baby boomers, and young hipsters alike.
James Hunter was born Neil James Huntsman in Colchester, Essex in October 1962. He left school at 16 to work mending signal boxes on the railways. Introduced to rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm ‘n’ blues via his grandmother’s collection of old 78s, he quickly fell in love with the genre and began to develop his sound as a teenager. His first experience of playing live didn’t occur until he was 22, when his group performed at Colchester Labour club ("we were dreadful”), but his career swiftly started swinging as powerfully and jubilantly as his music. Adopting the moniker Howlin’ Wilf in honor of one of his biggest inspirations, in 1986 he cut an album titled ‘Cry Wilf’ for the independent Big Beat label with backing band The Vee-jays. Early the following year, he enjoyed his big break when the band made an appearance on Channel 4’s Friday teatime music show The Tube.
Howlin’ Wilf & The Vee-Jays became a popular fixture on the UK club circuit, and in the early ‘90s they caught the eye of Van Morrison, who asked them to back him at the Belfast Telegraph Awards in 1991. Subsequently, Hunter was invited to sing backing vocals with Morrison’s band and appears on two of his cds. Returning the compliment, the Belfast soul man sings on Hunter’s 1996 album, ‘Believe What I Say.’
In the decade since, Hunter has worked tirelessly on the road and in the studio. However, Hold On! (his fourth cd) is something deeper than just another notch in his belt. From the driving stompers, to the bubbling rumbas, the record drips with the rawness and feeling that fans have become accustomed to, and cuts straight to the soul of the man who James Hunter fans have come to love. It is truly an artist’s vision come to fruition.
Tickets are $30 and available at the Thrasher office, Horicon Bank (Green Lake); Ripon Drug, Pick ‘N Save (Ripon); Twister (Princeton); or by calling the Thrasher office at (920)294-4279. Online tickets available at www.thrasheroperahouse.com.Sponsored by Ripon Printers and accommodations provided by the Bay View Motel, this program is also supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.