The Hunts Live at The McKinney Performing Arts Center: Amazing!

5280Last month I had the immense joy of seeing The Hunts live at the McKinney Performing Arts Center. This was a phenomenal concert, and one of the best evenings I’ve ever had!

The Hunts are seven siblings that comprise a fabulous Alternative-Folk band from Chesapeake, Virginia. Their music style is influenced by a mix of their mother’s classical violin lessons, their father’s taste in 70’s/80’s music and self-taught guitar skills, and all seven’s varying music preferences. This, and a lyric inspiring childhood, creates the beautiful, rock out, from the heart, and completely original take on music that The Hunts play.

We sat down in McKinney’s historic Colin County courthouse and waited for the show to begin. The lights dimmed as a piano and electric guitar began to slowly introduce the room to “Illuminate“. With Josh’s raw and honest way of singing, their music’s soul-stirring orchestration, and some of the most heartfelt and profound lyrics I have ever heard, it was amazing to see this song performed live.5456

Their ceaseless joy and unity onstage showed throughout their concert, but it was at its sweetest during “Valentina“: a lovely song written about a girl they met while hosting a summer music camp for children in Haiti. I knew that this was Josh Hunt’s favorite at the time from him telling me in our interview, and it showed as his face became far more animated for that song. Seeing their happy faces light up thinking about her made it impossible for the audience to not smile.5278

The same joy and unity can be said about “Lifting The Sea“. Jenni explained how they wrote it about their dreams to travel and how through their music they’ve been able to do so. It was something of a sweet comradery as all of them, dreamy-eyed, harmonized the story of their wanderlust and dreams come true. I had chills it was so wonderful.5330#2

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From their cheeky sibling banter to even drumming on the dining room chair, seeing how much fun The Hunts had during their concert made the show that much more enjoyable! I loved hearing Jordan sing “Next To Me” partly because it’s so fun and happy I wish this could be the soundtrack to my life, and partly because of Josh pointing out that the seven of them whistling in this song reminded him of the seven dwarfs. This spurred on a question of which dwarf he’d be, to that one of them replied with a mischievous “Choose wisely”.  😀5507

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The sisters Jessi and Jenni took the stage to croon a more-than-lovely cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can Help Falling In Love” dedicated to Jessi’s at the time fiancé, now husband. These girls have the prettiest voices! Their breathtaking timbres and glorious harmonies make my soul faint! *sigh* It was adorable seeing their sweet smiles and knowing glances to each other throughout the song. 5503

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I thought the night couldn’t get any better than what I had experienced so far. Oh how wrong was I! What came soon after but the amazement that is “Above the Storm” composed by Jonathan Hunt. Its awe-striking orchestration, building crescendos, and awakening harmonies pulsed the room with adrenaline. It soon flowed into a cheery and rhythmic melody, that gracefully melted into a heavy minor chorded piano solo rather akin to Hoizer. This song is epic bliss to say the very least.5815

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After that gloriousness my night continued to be wonderful with an emotion-filled performance of “Douse The Flame“. Its stunning violins and passionate lyrics of how dear their past is pulled at my heart! “…Still adventure seems to storm our very bones! We were young, but I’ll remember the clouds stampeding as my heart was overthrown!…” It was beautiful!5564

I was like a small child by the end of the night with my enthrallment and joy of each coming song. Especially so when they played the one song I had to watch and not take notes on; the one I wanted to enjoy (and shout the words to the top of my lungs). None other than, “Make This Leap”. This song is so extraordinarily better live! Being able to see the dance of music before me is something that you’ll have to see live to understand. *sighs* It was perfect!5693

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With a final performance of “Ages” I was thrilled. They totally rocked this country-style anthem with their building cries and stamping feet. I was overwhelmed with amazement! And can I say seeing Jessi rock out strumming on a banjo, was awesome! Their ending harmonies were heavenly to behold and it flawlessly caped off my evening.5902

I was in an elated state at the end of this concert, but that skyrocketed when we were able to get not just an encore song, but the best performance of “Folsom Prison Blues” I have ever heard in my life! With Jenni’s hot country vocals, Jonathan’s killer piano solo, and Jessi’s fiddling making strings of her bow, it was spectacular! I must say, I no longer feel this song is complete without a mandolin, but I don’t think anyone can fill that role for this song better than Jamison Hunt.

To top off this gloriousness the siblings called onstage their guitar-god of a father, Mr. Clint Hunt! This man has learned to play guitar by ear, and he is one of the best guitarists I have ever seen live, and I’ve seen many excellent guitarists before! (Can I learn how to play guitar like him?) It was a gorgeous moment, and one that Johnny Cash would certainly be proud of!5941

This show was an absolute gift! I had an amazing time and my one complaint about their show is that it had to end! The Hunts’ wisdom and emotion is astonishing, and their extreme passion and love for music inspires me greatly. The best part is how humble The Hunts are. Something Jenni said while thanking the audience for coming out really showed their humility, “We’re just seven kids from Virginia who play music“, and I love how after I can run out of words to describe their *pick a word that means really good, and place here*-ness, they are so down to earth and some of the kindest people you’ll meet. You will not be disappointed at their concert. GO SEE THE HUNTS!

Thank you so much to Sandy, Clint, Jessi, Jenni Dowling, Josh, Jonathan, Jordan, Justin, and Jamison Hunt. I had a wonderful evening and I can’t wait until you all come back to Dallas!

You can find The Hunts on: Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, and at thehuntsmusic.com. Click here for tour dates to see if this awesome band will be coming near you.

Many thanks to Sarah Forshaw of Forshaw Photography for letting me use your pictures from that night! All images in this post are hers. You can find Forshaw Photography on: Facebook and at sarahforshaw.wordpress.com

Happy Saturday! -Gems of Genres

 

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(Part 2) A Night at Poor David’s Pub with Emmet Cahill

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Recently while visiting a friend in Texas I had the pleasure of seeing Emmet Cahill, String Theory and Ireland Harber perform live at Poor David’s Pub in Dallas.

For those of you who don’t know Emmet Cahill is a fantastic, classically trained, Irish tenor and former member of world renown singing group Celtic Thunder. He began music at the age of four with lessons from his father and then went on in life to receive his formal training and a Degree of Musical Performance from the Royal Irish Academy of Music, (not many can put that on their resume!). After three years of world touring with Celtic Thunder, Cahill resigned to pursue his solo career, which lead me to this wonderful evening.

After an amazing opening act led by Nathan Kenedy and Jesse Ramirez, it was time for Cahill to begin. Now, to start I was more excited about visiting my friend than I was about seeing Emmet perform, this lead me to sorely underestimate his talent.

With Seamus Brett on piano, Cahill began his set with “Go the Distance”, immediately I was swept away into the song. On top of his extreme grace and control one of Cahill’s best qualities is how he acts with his song, he felt it, and in return every audience member felt the song as well. This especially showed during “Some Enchanted Evening”, as the whole room became an old black and white film with Cahill as the star.

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One thing I loved was how genuine Cahill was as he interacted with the audience. We were asked to all join in on “Spanish Lady” where you could see he was truly enjoying the moment; And after someone suggested he sing “My Irish Molly” he replied to them with a charming grin, “Ohhhh. Molly?” his Irish getting thicker, “…Well, only if you all clap with.”

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By the sixth song of the night in my notes it literally says, “Song 6: ‘The Book of Love’, At this point I am enjoying it too much to write. Go see him!” His concert was so good I just wanted to enjoy it, and I most certainly did!

It was during Cahill’s moving rendition of “Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears” that I myself was moved to tears, and I want you readers to understand I have never cried because of a song. But as lovely and sad as “Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears” was the one song that most moved me, and I feel was Cahill’s best, was his beautiful performance of the Les Miserables song “Bring Him Home”. In that moment Cahill really was Jean Valjean pleading to God for Marius. For the audience members he wasn’t just acting, he was. Here I had chills and I cried even more.

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He broke the mournful beauty with “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” only to bring us back to tears with a final performance of “Danny Boy” (If you were at this show and are wondering, yes the person blubbering behind you was I).

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Perhaps Cahill has missed his calling as an actor…but than again if he were I couldn’t have seen this amazing show. His talent is not only in his gorgeous voice but also in his moving and truly Irish way of telling the story. If Cahill is ever in town near you buy tickets to his show. You will completely enjoy your evening!

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Thank you Emmet for the wonderful show and well done.

Click here for part one of A Night at Poor David’s with String Theory and Ireland Harber.

You can find Emmet Cahill on Facebook, Twitter and at his website www.emmetcahill.com/ (where you should buy some tickets :D)

A very special thank you to the lovely Amanda Grace for letting me use your pictures! All pictures in this post are hers. If you readers are in the Salisbury, Maryland area and need a photographer get this woman to do your pictures! You can find Amanda Grace and her photography business Gilded Isle on Facebook, Instgram @glidedisle, and at gildedisle.com

Dé Luain sásta-Gems of Genres

(Part 1) A Night at Poor David’s with String Theory and Ireland Harber

Recently while visiting a friend in Texas I had the pleasure of seeing Emmet Cahill, String Theory and Ireland Harber perform live at Poor David’s Pub in Dallas. This is a two-part blog series because there was so much talent it was just too big for one post.

For this series I was fortunate enough gain use of pictures from that night taken by the incredible Amanda Grace of Gilded Isle Photography! All images used in this series are hers.

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After a lovely Q&A/meet and greet with Emmet Cahill before the opening act, we sat down to watch the amazement that is String Theory! This band is made up of University of North Texas graduate Jesse Ramirez on guitar, and North Texas School of Irish Music student Nathan Kennedy on fiddle.

What first caught my eye was their perfect rhythm and synchronization, as both  played so naturally like that was the only thing their arms were made for. These lads are Celtic instrumental at its finest! As I sat there listening I wished this could be the soundtrack to me horseback ridding through Irish moorland (I have artsy dreams, okay?).

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I was most impressed by Kennedy’s fiddling. During each song he added so much emotion and narrative with his well-seasoned playing, then to my amazement I learned that Kennedy was only thirteen years old! This lad has talent beyond his years. I am completely proud to say that Kennedy was just recently in Ireland competing in the world championships of Irish music, the Fleadh Cheoil! Kennedy is the first Texas youth fiddler to qualify and compete in this championship!

For those of you lucky enough to live in the Dallas Fort-Worth Metroplex, stop by The Celt Irish Pub where String Theory frequent. These lads put on an incredible show!

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After Emmet Cahill did a few songs, Ireland Harber, another member of the North Texas School of Irish Music, came up on stage to sing. The whole room stilled as she told the beautifully mournful and truly Celtic ballad “The Last Rose of Summer” with a grace that many professional singers lack.

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At the end of her song, Cahill broke the room’s stillness with a proud “She’s ten” and proceeded to gush on her talent saying how it was, “The best performance of that song I’ve seen, and I’m not just saying that ’cause you’re here.” I have only seen this song performed that one time but I can most certainly say that it was breathtaking.

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For her last song Harber joined Cahill in “Go Lasse Go”. Her gorgeous harmonies alongside her sweet and truly Celtic voice, stole the hearts of all who listened. I was also extremely impressed by how relaxed Harber was onstage, even down to interacting with the audience. This lass will go places!

These people have been some of my favorite opening and guest artists, and I can’t wait until they have opening artists of their own.

Click here for part two of A Night at Poor David’s with Emmet Cahill

You can find:

String Theory on Facebook

Jesse Ramirez on Facebook and jesse-ramirez.com

Ireland Harber and Nathan Kennedy in their Irish Folk band Innisfall on Facebook.

North Texas School of Irish Music on Facebook and at schoolofirishmusic.org

Legit Photographer Amanda Grace on Facebook, Instagram @gildedisle and gildedisle.com

Dé Luain sásta– Gems of Genres