James Hunter Six brings alive classic rhythm and blues
The James Hunter Six is a Wales-based sextet (two saxophones, drums, double bass, keyboards, guitar and vocals) that performs modern versions of classic ’50s and ’60s rhythm and blues.
Their albums have been nominated for a Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album, and Hunter was nominated for Best Emerging Artist at the Americana Music Awards.
The James Hunter Six is performing May 19 at the Oats Park Arts Center’s Barkley Theater.
Individual tickets are $17 for members and $20 for nonmembers. To purchase tickets, contact 775-423-1440 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are also available at Jeff’s Copy Express and ITT@Naval Air Station Fallon. All seats are reserved. The box office, Art Bar and galleries open at 7 with the performance at 8 p.m.
Not only will James Hunter perform Saturday evening, he will also be part of the free Conversation with the Artist program earlier in the day as he discusses “Soul & R&B” at 3 p.m., also at the Oats Park Art Center.
They’ve performed at venues from the Hollywood Bowl and Jools Holland to City Winery and Jazz Standard in New York City. Their most recent release is Hold On! from 2016.
Over the span of 30 years, he’s worked on the railway, busked in the streets of London, provided backup vocals and guitar for Van Morrison, played clubs and theaters all over the world, written scores of original songs, and recorded some of the most original and honest rhythm and soul albums of the last two decades.
By 2006, Hunter was recognized with nominations for a Grammy (Best Traditional Blues Album for “People Gonna Talk” and an American Music Award (Best New/Emerging Artist). He and his band then hit the road for a decade of extensive touring and recorded three additional critically acclaimed studio albums — “The Hard Way,” “Minute by Minute” and “Hold On!” By 2016, MOJO magazine had crowned him the United Kingdom’s Greatest Soul Singer.
On Feb. 2, 2018, renowned soul label Daptone Records released Hunter’s most ambitious album to date, “Whatever It Takes,” offering 10 new and original songs written by Hunter and recorded live to 8-track tape by Daptone’s two-time Grammy Award-winning Gabriel Roth.
At age 16, Hunter left school in Colchester, Essex, and began working for the railway, while honing his blues guitar and singing skills. Six years later, he played his first paid gig at the Colchester Labour club (as “Howlin’ Wilf and the Vee-Jays”). In the decades since, James Hunter has gone from singer/songwriter to laborer and back again. After releasing one album in 1986, Hunter and his band became a popular fixture on the UK club circuit and radio waves. His gritty, soulful voice has matured well along with his musicianship and song writing.
In the early ‘90s, Van Morrison recruited Hunter to sing backup on the road touring and on two albums, “A Night in San Francisco” and “Day’s Like This.” In the years to follow, Hunter opened shows for Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Willie Nelson, and Tom Petty, and headlined clubs and theatres in England, Europe, Australia and the United States.
Hunter’s latest album, “Whatever It Takes,” was inspired in part by his new wife, Jessie. Originally from New Jersey, Jessie met James when — after hearing him on the radio — she turned up at a show in New York City. A year later, they were married in New Orleans and now live in Brighton on the south coast of England. James dedicates three songs in particular to Jessie: “I Don’t Wanna Be Without You,” “I Got Eyes,” and “Whatever It Takes” — a song written to cheer her up during a rather grueling application process for UK residency.