It’s truly a rare opportunity when Kelley Hunt and Jeff Black perform together. Both are accomplished writers and performers on an international stage. And both exhibit distinctly different identities as writers. Jeff’s lush, cinematic style and Kelley’s penchant for aiming directly and passionately at the heart of the matter offer some distinct contrasts. And it helps that the two are longtime friends and admirers of each others’ work. But what happens when they collaborate on a performance like this is truly a “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” outcome. In this setting they typically support each other on piano or guitar when either performs their own songs and they reserve a part of the evening to give their own twist to some things from the other’s catalog. The result is a fascinating, inspired evening for anyone who loves great songs and songwriters expert at delivering them. These Jeff Black + Kelley Hunt duo shows don’t happen often – don’t miss this one.
Topeka’s own Thorpe and McElroy will open the show at 7pm.
“His words and voice hold down center stage with a craft so deeply in the artistic pocket that it obscures anything outside”
– No Depression
It’s the truth behind what an artist does and the way they choose to do it that defines their art. And while the ways in which audiences get their music has changed, the reasons why a certain kind of artist makes music have remained the same. Call it an uncompromising commitment, an inspired motivation, or just the need to share with and connect to those who listen. For Jeff Black, it is his life’s work that has driven him to build a career like few other singer/songwriters in the business. Boston’s WUMB listeners voted Jeff Black as one of the top 100 most important Folk artists of the last 25 years.
Black’s songs have earned GRAMMY recognition, radio chart-topping stats and numerous BMI awards. Although flying below the radar as a performer himself, he has been recognized by NPR as a musical pioneer in the digital age and his catalogue of critically acclaimed albums continues to grow. Composing music for film and television, his credits include numerous indie-film soundtracks and a repertoire of songs cut by artists as diverse as Alison Krauss & Union Station, Waylon Jennings, BlackHawk, Dierks Bentley, Jon Randall, John Oates, Jerry Douglas and Sam Bush. Black has forged a reputation as a true folk troubadour entertaining audiences globally for over three decades. A master songwriter and performer in the tradition of the great storytellers, his passionate, soul driven live performances of songs from his vast catalog are not to be missed.
Folklore is the 10th release from the prolific songwriter. Recorded over a 2 day period in Nashville, Tennessee at Arcana Studios, Jeff Black arms himself with a guitar, harmonica and a banjo to traverse the clay-dust roads that trace the cutting edge of pop culture, delivering a collection of modern folk and acoustic classics.
Kelley Hunt was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in the same environs as Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Mary Lou Williams, Pat Metheny and a host of other great American musicians. Her parents promoted that musical legacy, constantly playing jazz, soul, R&B, blues, pop and gospel records at home, where they hosted jazz jam sessions, and Hunt’s grandmother sang gospel music in New Orleans and
toured with a choir. The soundtrack to Hunt’s childhood included Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Wanda Jackson, Charles and Ruth Brown, Dr. John, Professor Longhair, Chuck Berry and his formidable piano cornerstone and Rock ’N Roll Hall of Famer, the late Johnnie Johnson, who befriended Hunt in the ’90s when they began sharing concert bills. But her earliest musical memory is of her mother singing traditional jazz and blues while doing dishes at the kitchen sink. Hunt absorbed all of this, and started making up songs and playing piano when she was four. She was taught boogie woogie piano at age 10 from an eccentric Vaudeville veteran named Mary Burke Norton in Emporia, KS. In college, she studied music composition and vocal performance, laying the technical foundation for the formidable skill set she brings to the stage and a career that has spanned over 1800 live performances.
Starting with 1994’s 88 Records release “Kelley Hunt”, she has developed a reputation as a torchbearer of authentic, straight-from-the-heart music with deep roots that transcend limitations of
genre. That has been her passkey to building a fan base through radio airplay on four continents and performances at clubs and roots and pan-genre music festivals throughout the United States,
Canada and Europe. Her career comprises six appearances on American Public Media’s popular A Prairie Home Companion, song placements in major studio and indie feature films, including an indie co-score, 6 acclaimed releases, over 150K indie units sold and downloaded and much more.
Kelley’s music has been described as a gumbo of roots music styles influenced by blues, roots R&B, gospel, soul, the piano vernaculars of Kansas City, St. Louis and New Orleans – all framed by her unique identity as a songwriter, crossing roots boundaries and often taking on social and political issues. It’s all delivered with superior skills as a singer and keyboardist. She has a simpler take, however.
“All the stuff I grew up listening to – things my parents and siblings turned me onto and things I sought out and connected with – it all just went in the way it went in and comes out the way it comes out. It’s an organic process for me. Sometimes a song or song idea bubbles to the surface seemingly on its own and I have no idea why, I just run with it,” said Hunt.
That was the case with the title track to her highly acclaimed, 6th and most recent release “The Beautiful Bones” which streeted mid-2014 and has been universally hailed by press, radio and fans on both sides of the Atlantic as the best work of her career.
Thinking preparation for Nashville recording sessions on the project were finished, but without a clear title track, the defining song of the album appeared out of nowhere on a frigid January morning as Hunt was playing a new guitar at her kitchen table. The title track, which warns about man’s failure to recognize a protect the planet’s natural legacy, wrote itself in 15 minutes. Critics were quick to get the point and reward the album with effusive praise. “If there truly is a Higher Power, He/She should press PLAY on the latest release by Kansas City’s Kelley Hunt. Rest assured that the takeaway will be, despite how everything’s been going lately, everything’s going to be okay after all.” said BLUES MUSIC MAGAZINE; “Kelley Hunt soars on her new release and invites listeners along for the ride.” said CASHBOX; “It is not very often that we receive an album that makes us sit down and really listen; like, grabs us and demands our full attention. Multi-instrumentalist Kelley Hunt has done just that with her new album, ‘The Beautiful Bones’. This album has depth, soul, personality, and nuance. (It) will definitely lift your spirits and make you smile, on the inside.” AMERICAN BLUES SCENE; “a beautiful work of art…It is an album you will want to hear over and over discovering something new each time.” added TUMBLR. THE SEATTLE TIMES proclaimed her “One of the best songwriters of the genre” in an earlier review.
Kelley is in process on a new project with a 2018 expected release date. She will also have 3 featured guest artist tracks on Duke Robillard’s Oct. 17 specialty release “Duke and His Dames of Rhythm”, which features music of the 20s and 30s, on MC Records. Other guests on that project include Madeline Peyroux, Catherine Russell, Maria Muldaur, Sunny Crownover and actress/songwriter Elizabeth McGovern.