A rising star spotlights Living Room Concerts

TCA Launches Living Room Concerts with folk musician Kelly Hunt

Ariana Kramer
Posted 2/6/20

The Taos Center for the Arts features Kelly Hunt for its first in a series of Living Room Concerts held at the Encore Gallery.

You have exceeded your story limit for this 30-day period.

Please log in to continue

Log in

A rising star spotlights Living Room Concerts

TCA Launches Living Room Concerts with folk musician Kelly Hunt


The Taos Center for the Arts features Kelly Hunt for its first in a series of Living Room Concerts held at the Encore Gallery.

Hunt released her debut album, "Even the Sparrow," in May 2019. The album is a delightful listen - with strong lyrics delivered with emotionally sensitive voicings and instrumentals. Two and a half years in the making, the album was met with high praise from music critics including "Rolling Stone" magazine's Greil Marcus, PopMatters' Jonathan Frahm and No Depression's Stacy Chandler. The album was named as a finalist for the Folk Alliance International's Album of the Year.

Hunt performs tonight, Thursday (Feb. 6), from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Taos Community Auditorium's Encore Gallery, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Colette LaBouff, executive director of the Taos Center for the Arts, commented in a press release, "We're really excited about Living Room Concerts, a brain child of board member Mary Domito, owner of Taos Lifestyle, who is the lead sponsor for the Kelly Hunt show, as well as donating furnishings for the series. The idea of moving performance to Backstage and the Encore is really designed to explore the use of the theater's multiple spaces, to open them at affordable costs and to explore these spaces for future uses - such as live theater."

A natural-born storyteller, Hunt told me she has had a long fascination with words. She has a folder with poems that she has written since the third grade. She said most of them are about being outside in nature, and she loves the poets Robert Frost, Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau.

"I wrote poetry first as a child," said Hunt. "My first creative expression was with words, and then I started writing melodies on piano. Eventually, the two intersected and I started writing songs with words in high school."

Hunt wrote her early songs on piano, but that changed when Hunt's uncle introduced her to the five-string banjo which she picked up about 10 years ago as a college student. Later, she discovered the four-string tenor banjo. She plays both types of banjos, as well as guitar. But, she says it was the sound of the banjo that really freed Hunt to explore the world of folk music, and storytelling through song.

"Because I'm self-taught I explored the instrument. It started supplying different melodies because different things were falling under my fingers. There's a particular character to that instrument that has a very old, folky, simple feel, so different kinds of melodies were coming out. And, using a picking pattern suggested different rhythms and kinds of songs," said Hunt.

"Also, I've always song soprano before then, but the banjo actually brought out this lower range in my voice. I was playing it in open G and that sits low in my range, and I realized I had this alto range I had never really explored, so it got me to approach my own instrument in a different way. When I got the tenor four-string banjo, it changed my writing even further, because again you only have four strings, so you have different picking patterns, different rhythms. The drum head feels different and sounds different, and has a mellower sound," she continued. "It's a more plaintive, softer instrument, so ballads were coming out of the four-string."

Hunt's songs on "Even the Sparrow" include "Men of Blue and Gray," a song about the Civil War, and "Bird Song," with mockingbird, redbird, sparrow, robin, bluejay and raven all mentioned by name.

When I asked her what motivates her to write songs these days, Hunt referenced her love of history and reading. She said she finds there are a lot of stories rooted in historical events that speak to her.

"There are so many great stories that need telling," emphasized Hunt.

For her Taos show, Hunt will be joined by violin player Stas' Heaney for a mix of songs from "Even the Sparrow" with some newer material. They will play instrumental tunes as well as songs. Hunt said that three of the four instruments they are playing are over 100 years old.

"The instruments really inform the songs in a lot of ways. They have very unique voices," she said.

For 2020, Hunt plans to record a second album with Heaney. She said the album is written and ready to record as soon as they settle on a producer, a studio and a date.

"We've got about 20 songs we've demoed and are narrowing it down to a dozen. The way it's looking I think it will be similar in form to 'Even the Sparrow' with some solo, some duo, and some fuller-fledged songs. The main difference is we'll be working with a producer and there will be some different instruments. I'll be playing five-string, and tenor banjo, and a couple of guitar songs. It will be a similar shape and form as the first album … with the same classic, folky, old-time feel."

For more background and to take a listen to her music, visit Kelly Hunt online at kellyhuntmusic.com.

Lone Piñon will be the second concert in the TCA's Living Room Concerts series, performing on Saturday, Feb. 29, at 7 p.m. For more information, visit tcataos.org.


Private mode detected!

In order to read our site, please exit private/incognito mode or log in to continue.