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

5335

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

5357

5412

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

5497

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

5612

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

5852

5878

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

 

Advertisements

The Point of Music

Do you ever wonder what the point of music is? You cannot see, taste, smell, or touch music. It cannot provide nourishment, strength, shelter, light, warmth, protection, or any other fundamental necessity. So why is this intangible arrangement of sounds to a rhythm so loved by people on this earth?

In all continents, countries, and cultures music is there. Throughout the past music had its place: the ballads of medieval minstrels, sea shanties of pirates, fight songs of warriors, psalms of biblical times even! About every event in a person’s life has music: birthdays, funerals, sleepovers, prom nights, ballet recitals, road trips, all these things would have far less meaning without music. In most all religions and religious services music has its place there as well.

Clearly in human society music is important, but why is that? What is the point of this arrangement of sound?

I did some research to find out scientifically why music is so enjoyed. To summarize, I came to this: Music, when enjoyed, causes dopamine (the “happy hormone”) to be released into a part of our brain that deals with stimulation called the striatum. So basically music makes us happy because it stimulates part of our brain. Why does it stimulate? There must be more of an answer to the point of music than stimulation. I’ve never heard a musician say there main goal as an artist is to stimulate their fans brains, (honestly that sounds a really creepy). So what is the point of music? What is music’s purpose?

Music is

The point of music is connection. It is emotion. It is relationship. Music is a tool used by all peoples to simply communicate their feelings. Music is a universal language. If you played a minor and a major chord to a complete foreigner I can guarantee they could tell the difference in mood. Though every Gaelic lament I hear I know none of the words, but I still know it’s sad.

Music can express the deepest feelings and the most complicated emotions. Music can show the fiercest rage, the most blissful love, the harshest sorrow. Music is a thing of relating. If one cannot find the right words, odds are there’s a song that can help you express your meaning.

Music connects our mind with thoughts, our body with rhythm, and our souls with emotion. Music can join multiple souls together. Perhaps music is the sound our soul makes, but to know that I’d have to be God…(I’m not, in case you were wondering 😛 )

So that is the point of music, in my eyes. Do you see music differently? What are some songs that connect to you most?

I hope you all enjoyed this post. Have a happy and musical Thursday! -Gems of Genres

Go and See The Hunts DFW Concert! Plus Interview with Josh Hunt

All DFW Metroplex population and then some! Are you searching for an awesome concert to go to this month? If so, you have to go and see The Hunts live at Mckinney Performing Arts Center on September, 18th. (Click here for details)

“But I know nothing about this band,” you say? Well then, let me tell you! 🙂

Seven, multi-instrumentalists, with breathtaking harmonies, who are also siblings, The Hunts are a Virginia-based Alternative-Folk band. Their music is spirited and from the heart; always with a bright message. It is deep and wise, yet innocent and simple, and altogether beautiful.

The Hunts

I had the privilege of asking lead-singer and eldest brother Josh Hunt a few questions, via email, before they come to Texas for the show.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a musician?

A. My love for being a musician stems from my love for music. That sounds obvious, but it stands true. Above all the perks that I’ve experienced from being a musician, there is a genuine love and intrigue I have towards music.”

Q: How does being on tour with your siblings effect your relationships with each other, both positively and negatively?

B. Touring with my family is gratifying and a ways that we’ve created many of our fondest memories. Our relationships growing up have always existed in tight living spaces. For example, all seven of us shared a single bathroom throughout our childhood. We collectively understand that touring is possible through solid relationships that involve care and forgiveness.”

Q: What is the story behind the song “Make This Leap”? 

C. Make this leap is mostly inspired by our childhood. The sounds and many of the lyrics to this song and the rest of the album for that matter were written to capture the emotion behind our memories and adventures as children.”

Q: What is your favorite song to perform?

D. My favorite song to perform often varies… Last month it was “Douse The Flame”, a slower beautiful song that is also reminiscent of the effect of past years, and years gone by. This month it has been Valentina. Valentina (written about an orphan we met in Haiti) holds so much meaning. Experiencing the joy and courage of this girl has effected us significantly and recalling the experiences by playing Valentina is a pleasure.”

(In 2013, three years after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, The Hunts along with a two cousins and a friend, went to “impact and bless the lives of children in impoverished and unfortunate conditions through music and teaching.” Their time spent is beautifully told in this video. )

Q: Is there a question you would like to be asked?

E. See C

Q: As a musician, is there anything specific you have, or would like to accomplish?

My goal as a musician is to be as genuine and true to myself throughout my career as I possibly can. Music shouldn’t be made in a factory. That often defeats the purpose and emotion of it. The Hunts style of writing and the effort and meaning we put into each song is something I’d like to maintain.” -Josh Hunt

I think that last answer truly shows the heart of this band. The one thing that makes me addicted to someone’s music is if you can feel it, and with The Hunts you most certainly can. Their music is true, and laced with meaning and emotion; the way music should be!

I really hope you all come out and see the Hunts live because their music is amazing! Purchase tickets to The Hunts Live at McKinney Performing Arts Center here. If you would like to see The Hunts in concert, but don’t live in the DFW area click here to see their tour dates.

You can find The Hunts on FacebookTwitter and at thehuntsmusic.com. If you want to here more of their awesome music give them a follow on Spotify.

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

ECahillGildedIsle5676

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.

ECahillGildedIsle5641

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.”

ECahillGildedIsle5653

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.

ECahillGildedIsle5656

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).

ECahillGildedIsle5753

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!

ECahillGildedIsle5634

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

Top 5 Songs I Never Get Tired Of

GG TOP 5

Do you have a song that you never get tired of? That you unashamedly “play to death”. And do you ever get happy when that song gets stuck in your head? Well I know I do. Here is a list of my Top 5 Songs I Never Get Tired Of:

 

#5: “Jailhouse Rock” by Elvis Presley

Every time I hear this song I immediately feel cool, (And unashamedly do the twist to). This is by far my favorite song the The King did. Written in 1957 by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, “Jailhouse Rock” was written for Presley’s third motion picture by the same name. “Jailhouse Rock” reached #1 on U.S. Billboard charts and stayed there for seven weeks! And in early ’58 it stayed at #1 for three weeks in UK charts. But this song’s popularity is no wonder considering its rocking beat and catchy tune, and of course its illustrative lyrics.

 

#4: “If The Gaff Don’t Let Us Down” by Skinny Lister

This hit by English Punk-Folk band Skinny Lister always makes me smile! It’s so happy! “If The Gaff Don’t Let Us Down” tells a beautiful story about sailing to one’s love. (This song is guaranteed to make every gal wish her lad had half this much class 😉 ) I love the happy melody and the great beat this song has. “If The Gaff Don’t Let Us Down” is from Skinny Lister’s awesome debut album “Forge and Flagon” check it out.

 

#3: “Love Me Or Leave Me” cover by Regina Spektor

This cover of “Love Me Or Leave Me” is from the Boardwalk Empire Vol. 3 Soundtrack. I can’t get over this song it’s so good! Spektor’s voice flawlessly portrays the frustration and desparity that waiting on someone to choose you can have. She perfects the 20’s Blues sound with her gentle yet pained voice. *Sighs* This woman should get some sort of award for this song!

“Love Me Or Leave Me” was originally written by Walter Donaldson and Gus Khan for the Broadway production of “Whoopee”, and sung by Ruth Etting. It has been recorded by over fifty artists in its years of existence, however (in my opinion), Regina Spektor’s cover is by far the best.

 

#4 “Precious” by JD McPherson

This song, it gets me every time. I would easily compare this song to a religious experience. Honestly if someone told me this was a hymn I wouldn’t doubt them. McPherson has done it again with this gorgeous piece from his latest album “Let The Good Times Roll“. If you can’t get through this song without at least chills, then you aren’t even human! Every time I hear this line:

“What does it mean when your blood vibrates? I thought it was a bad sign. There was a word I never tried to speak, now it’s a battle cry! It’s so precious, precious to me,…”

*Wipes tears away from eyes* For the first time I am rendered speechless. (And that doesn’t happen! One of my biggest problems in school was that I couldn’t summarize!) All I can say is listen to this song. It’s so beautiful!

 

#1 “Wild Woman” by Imelda May

My jam! From her latest album “Tribal“, Imelda May’s “Wild Woman” is the best song to rock out to. I mean full on rocking out: blaring the speakers, running through room, hair down, shouting at the top of your lungs, and air-guitar, complete with a dance routine. (Oh you think that’s the video? Haha, no that’s me while listening to this song! 😛 ) May wrote the song about how no matter how much you try in life to conform to society’s rules and responsibilities there is still that Wild Woman inside you, ready to burst out at any time! I think the reason I like this song so much is because I’m not a wild person, but this song provides the perfect opportunity to act as crazy as you like, (With curtains drawn of course!)

 

Even though these songs are in order, I still can’t say that one is better than the other. There all so good!

I hope you guys enjoyed this post! Do you have any songs that you never get tired of? Are any of these songs new favorites for you? If so please comment and let me know! Also drop a comment if there are any bands or musicians you’d like a review on.

 

Keep on Rockin’, Rollin’ and Jivin’!

Gems of Genres 😀

 

Grant Lee-Phillips: A Folksy Troubadour with many Stories

Grant Lee-Phillips

Singer-songwriter, Grant Lee Phillips has a way of telling stories you want to hear. His genre is Folk, edging towards Country, along with many Ballads. His sound is comparable to Van Morrison, Neil Young, The Head and Heart, and even an early Bob Dylan.

Phillips’ music puts you in a whirlwind of amazement. His smooth and smoky croon suddenly changes to a harmonizing falsetto, as the fiddle howls in tune with the twelve-string guitar’s rhythmic canter; The banjo twangs a plucky melody, while his story unfolds.

Even though Phillips has so much talent in his songwriting, the fact that he is a multi-instrumentalist, (Capable of playing guitar, bass, mandolin, synthesizer, and harmonica, for a short list), only adds to his envious skill.

Take a listen:

Mona Lisa” “Buried Treasure

One thing I love about his most recent album “Walking in the Green Corn” (2012), is glphow well incorporated his Muscogee heritage is. Many of the songs are based off Native legends and history, and how those stories continue to influence, and be of use in today’s life.

Take his song “The Straighten Outer” for example,

“…Hammer of the straighten outer, working overtime. And all the world’s a rattle snake; Waiting to unwind. And all the world needs setting straight, In his crooked mind…” Is a perfect example of how this world has problems needing to be faced and dealt with.

Or “Buffalo Hearts“, and its evocative image of the Trail of Tears, “…Remember the ones. Traveled so far. All that was lost on that walk…”

  “After becoming a father, I wanted to be able to answer all those questions I know I’ll be asked one day, when my daughter takes an interest in where we come from,” says Phillips about his heritage.

GrantLeePhillipsPhillips’ is such an amazing musician, he should play in film…In fact he has. Grant has been on soundtracks for various TV shows, including “Bones”, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How I Met Your Mother”. He even was given a role in the hit comedy “Gilmore Girls” as the town Troubadour, and much of his music was used for the soundtrack as well.

Phillips tells stories that have meaning, and depth. The message you gain from his music simply is, move on from the bad things of the past, not forgetting but always learning from, and make what you can of life. Make it good.

I’ll leave you guys with this song, “Walking in the Green Corn“.

You can find Grant Lee Phillips on Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, and at grantleephillips.com You can purchase his albums, including “Walking in the Green Corn”, here.

I hope you all enjoyed this post and have a musical week. 😀

Happy Monday!

 

JD McPherson: A Soulful and Energetic, 50’s Style, Americana Rocker.

Jd and band

JD McPherson is a phenomenal musician. His style is a mix of a 50’s swing, with good bit of Oklahoma country, and a streak of Rockabilly. His Rhythm and Blues is that to be compared to the likes of Little Richard and Chuck Berry. While his Southern folksy flair reminds me of a mid-fifties Cochran Brothers. It is truly the essence of American Rock ‘n’ Roll.

When McPherson performs, his show is like that of none other. A clear toned guitar intro interrupts the murmur of the crowd as he begins his hit “Dimes for Nickels”. Immediately the room is filled with twirling skirts and jiving couples, as the catchy beat grasps hold of your hands and feet. Adrenaline consumes you, while both young and old bop to his anthems of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

McPherson sings with such power and soul, you can’t help but wonder if the Scottish man in front of you is lip-syncing and a black gospel singer is in the back belting out the lyrics for him. But no no, McPherson is just that good. His voice captivates the audience with a daring shout, as he rocks out electric chords on his blond Fender Stratocaster.

Although McPherson’s sound is influenced by “old school” music, it’s certainly not a time-machine record. Subtle streaks of Punk and Hip Hop weave into his style, making his music a modernized Rock ‘n’ Roll. (Without making it sound like a toddler finger painted with genres.) One of McPherson’s greatest talents is he doesn’t just have a sound, he molds it to what he wants.

McPherson has performed on numerous late night shows including: Conan, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and David Letterman to name a few. In 2012 Rolling Stone Magazine called McPherson an “artist to watch”. His album “Signs & Signifiers”, was awarded Best Rock/Hard Rock album by the Independent Music Awards.

His band consists of bassist Jimmy Sutton, drummer Jason Smay, Ray Jacildo on keys and synthesizer, and Sax/multi-instrumentalist, Doug Corcoran. These men are great musicians and even better people.

McPherson’s album “Signs & Signifiers” is truly amazing. His music is perfect at any given time, whether it’s being played at a swing hall or while you’re washing the dishes. His is the kind of music that’s appropriate enough to play around your brothers kid, but the great thing about McPherson is, you actually enjoy his songs. (No! No more wheels ’round the bus! Please!)

All in all, if you don’t already know who JD McPherson is, go check him out. If he is ever performing near you go and see him. The boys put on a show that will not disappoint.

McPherson’s new album “Let The Good Times Roll” will be released February, 10, 2015. Click here to pre-order the album, both in CD and LP Record. Currently the first 100 orders get a free “Let The Good Times Roll” patch.

 

You can find JD McPherson on Facebook, Twitter, and at http://jdmcpherson.com  You can purchase Signs and Signifiers on Amazon and ITunes.