Review + Photos by L Paul Mann
May 25, 2016 | Santa Barbara , CA – The James Hunter Six rolled into Santa Barbara on a sleepy pre memorial holiday Wednesday night, May 25th, to play a rocking set of R&B inspired must. The band of veteran musicians, led by the English singer and guitarist Hunter, drew much of their inspiration from classic American Soul music. The Grammy nominated singer impressed the iconic singer Van Morrison so much that, Morrison volunteered to sing on Hunters album, “Believe What I Say,” in 1996. Hunter went on to perform on Morrison’s albums as well throughout the 90’s. New Orleans music master Allen Toussaint was also a fan of Hunter, and the band played one of Toussaint’s tunes to honor the recently decided singer.
But it was not until Hunter’s first solo release in the United States, his 2006 breakthrough album “People Gonna Talk,” was nominated for a Grammy award for “best traditional blues album” at the 49th Grammy awards ceremony, that he became well known in this country. Since then Hunter has been hard at work hitting the road almost continuously with his crack band, playing to a loyal following of devoted fans.
The band tore through riveting songs inspired by several classic American genres, including R&B, Rock and Roll, and Soul music. Hunter may be one of the most important links in the last twenty years, to the early hey days of these classic genres. His crack band features dual sax players, Lee Badau on baritone saxophone and Damian Hand on tenor saxophone, bringing awesome Jazz tinged musical battles to the mix. The band also features Jonathan Lee on drums; Andrew Kingslow on keyboards and percussion; and Jason Wilson on bass.
The ninety minute show was punctuated with an impromptu gathering in the court yard in front of the historic Lobero theater, featuring wine, beer and appetizers. Devoted fans were able to mingle with the band and have some of their treasured albums signed, while a few impromptu tunes broke out on a painted piano, lent from the annual New Noise music festival.
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