An evening with the Hunts

One of the points of pride for The ‘Ville, and one of the things that helped convince us to make our move, was that it’s a small community with a city feel. Thanks to the university, there is no shortage of cultural events and excellent entertainment.

Ok, so we’d be a lot happier if there was a Target in town. And an Arby’s. But we’ll take what we can get.

Last night, while Kates and Phoebe went to a friend’s house for “a little girls party,” I indulged in the entertainment. My first concert experience in what has seemed like an eternity, and oh, it was good.

The Hunt Family. They’re not a household name -- as evidenced by the two people who raised their hands last night when one of the band members asked how many audience members had heard of them -- but after seeing them perform last night and listening to more of their music today, I’m a little perplexed as to why they’re not.

Think of the von Trapp Family, but with fiddles. A modern, made-for-the-digital-age, countrified version.

They’re a family of nine -- Mom, Dad, twin girls and five boys -- whose music ranges from Celtic to bluegrass to country to rock. And they mix their champion fiddling with Irish step-dancing, which to my delight was kept to a minimum last night.

With the twins, 21-year-olds Jessi and Jenni, and their gorgeous harmonies carrying the load, I could have sat back and listened to the group’s original songs all night long. I'm a sucker for good female vocals, after all. Individually, their soft tones reminded me of Adele or Ingrid Michaelson; together the girls could draw comparisons to the Dixie Chicks.

Their hour-long show last night spanned Jenni Hunt’s slow, heartfelt “Friend” about two straight months on the road and missing loved ones back home (I can relate to that one ...), to Jessi Hunt’s upbeat and delightful “Apple Tree.” It’s so singable, I can’t get it out of my head today.

And then, to prove they're not just a bunch of hillbillies from Virginia, the family knocked out a rocking cover of Brandi Carlile’s “The Story.”

There were other highlights, too. Like Jonathan Hunt’s keyboard-banging instrumental “Crazy Fingers” (think Tran Siberian Orchestra). And there was a rousing Irish dancing number that had the boys, wearing white shoes and white ties, illuminated in black lights as they tapped and stomped on the stage; then they switched to drumming on the stage with glow-in-the-dark drumsticks.

There also was a charming portion that featured the kids shoulder to shoulder and playing the fiddle of the sibling to his or her left.

Fittingly, the Hunts capped the performance with their take on the classic “Devil Went Down to Georgia.” To say the crowd left the theater smiling is an understatement.

Afterward, the family appeared for a meet-and-greet, and I wasted no time plopping down some cash for a CD. Moments later, the jacket was signed with all nine names, and I’ve got another warm concert memory to add to my treasure trove.

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