Hail to The Hunts!

There must have been at least forty seven different instruments on stage when The Hunt Family appeared at the Clausen Center in Holstein last Saturday. Well, maybe not quite that many but there sure were a lot of them and they all got played and played extremely well. There was a keyboard, violins, drums of just about every persuasion, an accordion, a ukelele, all chockablock with guitars (both acoustic and electric), a banjo, and who knows what else. Of course, there were also a lot of hands available to unloose their music – nine pairs in all.

The Hunt family is simply an amazing group of performers. The parents and their seven offspring came out, sang their songs, and danced their dances with such unabated joy that they captured the audience’s collective heart. There was a complete lack of pretension about them. They were like the people in the house around the corner in Anytown, Anywhere. That is, if you could find such a place that housed nine accomplished musicians with a plethora of instrumentation close to hand.

There is absolutely nothing artificial or plastic about this family of entertainers. It basically comes down to this – they take great joy in both making and sharing their wonderful music. There was only one problem. There are so many people to watch and seven of them have names that start with the letter “J”.. About midway through he first set, I gave up trying to put names to faces and faces to the songs they sang. I just decided to sit back and enjoy the show.

The highlight of the night came when they sang one of their original works, “Lifting the Sea”. They told of taking it to Haiti on a mission trip and of how deeply moved they were by the experience. Through it they conveyed the sense that though cultures may differ and oceans may separate them, all the world’s people are pretty much the same. “It’s amazing.” they sang. “Isn’t it crazy that you and me are both in the world?” The words are those of young idealists who perhaps see things a bit more clearly than some of us who are snugly ensconced here in the midlands.

Another rare treat was Leonard Cohen’s :Hallelujah”. I don’t know if this can accurately be called an accolade or not, but their rendition was the first time I’ve ever been able to understand all the words to that song. These young people have honed their articulation to such a fine point that it flows as smoothly and as surely as their blended harmonies.

However sweet their singing, it was the dancing that got the greatest response from the audience. The Irish Step Dance augmented by drum sticks beating time on the floor and flying suspenders on the three eldest boys brought a roar of approval from the crowd.

Then came “Folsom Prison Blues” and the encore of “Devil Went Down to Georgia”. At last the parents made their way front and center and showed everybody just where the kids learned their stuff. It was a rousing way to end the show and left the audience whistling for more. The night was too short by half.