SXSW Picks 2 Click 2007
Red Hunter can't stop the voices
Peter & the Wolf
There are many words you can use to describe Red Hunter, and often they're words used to describe old souls and free spirits. In Los Angeles putting the finishing touches on his follow-up to last year's gorgeous, weighty Lightness (see Texas Platters, October 27, 2006), Hunter, aka Peter & the Wolf, sounds as free as ever.
"Been out here two months," he explains. "It's a whole new thing. Wilder. Picked up a bunch of new instruments like the igil, trumpet, erhu, and kalimba. It's all about chasing summer, dodging suicidal deer on windy roads, swimming, running down mountains."
Nomad. Hunter was a Navy brat growing up, which explains his penchant for a-wanderin', both in travel and song, and perhaps last summer's much-publicized sailboat tour, which attracted the likes of everyone from Playboy to NPR, even as he and shipmates Jana Hunter and Ray Raposa boarded a boat unsure if they'd even get to the next port intact. They did, and Hunter would do it again if given the chance.
"We wanted adventure," he says. "We crashed the boat and nearly sank in the middle of the night. There were brawls, scurvy, and whispers of mutiny. So yeah, I'd say it was a big success."
His military upbringing might also explain his fascination with the journals of war photographer Dan Eldon, who covered the atrocities in Somalia in the early Nineties and was stoned to death there in 1993 by an angry mob during a U.N. raid. "What's amazing about his journals is how he documented his travels, parties, and loves along the way but always kept this amazing optimism that he could help solve problems in war-torn places," Hunter relates. "My brother put it best: 'The guy was a revolutionary.'"
Hunter channels the same revolutionary spirit, and the word "prolific" fits him just fine. He's collaborated and shared a stage with several Austinites, including Voxtrot's Jared Van Fleet, Sound Team's Bill Baird, and golden-voiced Dana Falconberry, with whom he shares many of the best songs on Lightness, courtesy of L.A. indie the Worker's Institute.
"Dana and I were a couple of old drunks bound to run into each other eventually," he says. "We've actually fought, and I'm telling you she was not easy to take down."
He's also trailed his band of merry men and women ("junk orchestras") onto buses and into graveyards. His earliest childhood memory of music: his mother playing "Moonlight Sonata" in a house with creaky wood floors. So throw haunting and apocalyptic in, too. His words and songs are plucked from the radiated wreckage of the next millennium as much as the bedeviled blues of eight decades ago. (Too bad HBO's Carnivàle was canceled; Hunter could have played a great traveling salesman.) Loves lost, visions had, roads traveled it's easy to imagine him shaded under the branches of another word: poet.
"Yes, constantly," he concurs when asked if he's always writing. "Honestly, it's like there's always a rap battle going on. Sometimes I drink to try and shut it out, but then it just turns into DJ Screw."
SXSW showcase: Friday, March 16, 10pm @ Eternal