For organic, homegrown harmonies, fresh faces and diverse instrumentation, it's doubtful there's any musical group who can compete with the Hunts. The five brothers and twin sisters showcased their uplifting Indie folk music at Tuesday evening's Encore presentation at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center. The undeniably appealing Hunts, from Chesapeake, Va., entertained the crowd with their own original music, interspersing a few unique cover selections.
Wistful vocals from Jessi and Jenni blended with the solid tenor of their brother Josh on most selections. As far as instrumentation, the Hunts' list is impressive: Jessi, violin, banjo and guitar; Jenni, violin and guitar; Josh, acoustic and bass guitar; Jonathan, keyboard; Jordan, drums; Justin and Jamison vocals, hand percussion, mandolin and viola.
From calypso to bluegrass to a Tiny Tim-ish rendition of an Elvis standard, the Hunts' music came alive. They shared the stage with a camaraderie that showed an overwhelming love of performing together and a deep respect for the serious business of music.
Each band member at age 6 launched his or her musical training with violin lessons from their mother, Sandy. Their father, Clint, then continued their musical training, adding guitar lessons as they grew older. Each child followed his or her own musical passions and experimented with new instruments, exploring and developing musical identities along the way.
There's a lot going on in each selection the Hunts perform, and a good listener will find much to dig on.
Mingling harmonies between male and female voices in "How You Feel About Traveling," there was a natural give-and-take among the Hunts. Rhythms, wild but well-contained, linked seamlessly with energetic strings on two new tunes set to be released this spring.
It might not be as Johnny Cash imagined it, but the Hunts' delivery of "Folsom Prison Blues" was one of the most imaginative, downright fun interpretations of the country classic I've ever heard. I'm sure we can expect to hear good things from the Hunts as their musical career continues to evolve.
Looking ahead, the outlook is bright for performing arts in Hays. This weekend, the Fort Hays State University opera production Radio Opera Hour is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Felten-Start Theatre. Hays Community Theater will perform "Tuesdays with Morrie" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Liberty Foursquare, 120 W. Ninth. Then next week, the FHSU Concert Choir takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, and FHSU bands perform at 7:30 p.m. March 12. Both FHSU performances will be at Beach/Schmidt.
Dawne Leiker is a frequent contributor to The Hays Daily News.