“It wasn’t quite like growing up with blues in Alabama,” says James Hunter of his Colchester, England upbringing. “But in my part of England, anywhere south of Watford would be considered Alabama.” He certainly sounds the part. Despite his English accent, Hunter sings like a Southern soul veteran, and he basically is. He got his start in the ’80s, working small venues on the British club circuit. None other than Van Morrison caught one of his gigs in the late ’90s, leading to a collaboration between the two singers and a new round of touring.
Yet even with the increased profile, Hunter couldn’t seem to find sustained success until he tried his hand at street busking. Surprisingly enough, this led to a record deal and an American breakthrough with People Gonna Talk, his 2006 Grammy nominated album. Hunter quickly followed up with The Hard Way, resulting in tours with Aretha Franklin and Willie Nelson.
Hunter’s latest album, Minute By Minute, might prove to be his masterpiece. The singer decided to acknowledge his longtime backing band by recording Minute By Minute under the moniker the James Hunter Six. He also teamed up with Gabriel Roth, the co-founder of Daptone Records and a producer whose credits include like-minded peers Amy Winehouse, Sharon Jones, Lee Fields, and Charles Bradley. Minute By Minute is the perfect sum of all these soulful personalities, and it sounds lived-in and raw thanks to Hunter’s dynamic performance. The playful title track tips its hat to Brenton Wood’s “Oogum Boogum,” and it’s absolutely guaranteed to get your feet moving. The James Hunter Six will be getting the party started with songs like these at KUTX Live at the Four Seasons on Wednesday, starting at 10 AM.
You can catch the James Hunter Six at SXSW 2013:
Wed, 3/13: KUTX Live at the Four Seasons, 10am
Thu, 3/14: Antone’s, 8pm
Sat, 3/16: Auditorium Shores, 3:30pm