Catching Up With Charlie

On a whim tonight I decided to see what Charlie Hunter has been up to. Good thing, because I got a killer album out of the deal. Charlie is one of my all-time favorite artists. If you've never heard of him, stop reading my drivel and listen to this. Or better yet listen while you read...

So what's to like about Charlie? Here's my list.

  1. Lutherie

    Charlie plays 8-string (and most recently 7-string) guitars. These are hybrid instruments - three bass strings and 4-5 guitar strings. They are works of art if you're into guitars - fanned frets, variable string scale, etc.

  2. Musicianship

    You have to see it to believe it. You may not have inferred from my description of the hybrid guitar above, but he plays bass and guitar parts at the same time. As if that weren't enough, he also uses a Leslie at times to make the guitar sound like a jazz organ.

  3. Composition

    Charlie has a distinctive style which is all his own - funk, soul, jazz, rock and blues all go into the blender. He writes killer horn section parts and always grooves. He also can cover a song and render it both better and unrecognizable.

  4. Line-Ups

    Charlie constantly changes the format of his bands - trio, quartet, quintet, solo. He tries it all - saxophone, vibes, keyboard, harmonica, trombone(!). You never know what the next album is going to sound like, except that the drummer will be badass.

  5. Live Performance

    Charlie slays live. He features in several of my favorite concert memories including the M-Shop performance where he previewed material from the Natty Dread album. Check this video of Lively Up Yourself which brought the house down.

    I also camped out on the sidewalk at the Iowa City Jazz Festival with my sister and watched his Quintet rip the place up. Charlie gave the band a break and played an interlude on the pandeiro (a brazilian tambourine-like drum) and ended it up by playing Iron Man on it. Classic.

    Get an Album

    Just using the word album makes me feel old, which is especially ironic since I started with cassette tapes. Hopefully, all my blathering will inspire you to check out some of Charlie's music. My favorites are Natty Dread and Right Now, Move.


Jeremy Ulstad

Dad, IT Architect, Musician, Sailor

Minneapolis, Minnesota