Charlie Hunter and a Front Row Table: Sweet Saturday Night of Music

Charlie Hunter plays bass and lead with a 7-string guitar.

Last night’s musical entertainment was a first-rate duo, to go along with our first-rate seats, right next to the stage at the Iron Horse. Charlie Hunter was there with drummer Eric Kalb, and between the two they filled the hall with a huge band’s worth of energy, rhythm and excitement.

I was originally confused by his name when my friend Bill extended the invitation to join him and two others at these prime stage-side seats. I confused him with the Grateful Dead lyricist, Robert Hunter and couldn’t place the Charlie Hunter we were going to see.

It only took one song to transport the hall into the same level of musical ecstasy that was evident when Hunter would wail out, “yeah!”  and “whoop!” as he played furiously.

Hunter has an interesting twist that I have never seen anyone else do. He plays the top two strings of his custom-made seven string guitar for the bass part,  with those other fingers, he picks and strums the lead. It’s a trick but it’s more than just a novelty. He’s just a fantastic bassman AND a strikingly good lead, using that one hand and managing the chords by moving a lot with the other hand.

While the songs and their musical style might imply improvisation, Hunter is sticking to the notes of the songs, playing some jazz classics mixed with songs from some of his 17 albums recorded over his long career. For a while he played with Michael Franti in a world music group.

Drummer Eric Kalb has the look of a Swede. His blond hair and a happy smile on his face showed how much fun it must be to play with a guy like Hunter. We watched he and  his partner riff off each other and take turns zooming off on their own musical excursions. The drumming was as crisp and well timed as I have ever seen on any stage, a burst of precision here and there and a gorgeous accompaniment to Hunter’s two instruments going at once.