Kellley Hunt was born and raised outside of Kansas City in nearby Emporia, Kansas. She has been playing the piano since the age of 3 and has built an impressive following in the region. Now taking on a national reputation, Hunt is one of a number of exceptional female piano players gracing stages nationwide that includes Marcia Ball, Honey Piazza, Deanna Bogart and Dona Oxford. Hunt is an exceptional piano player that can definitely hold her own with any other in the world, male or female. It has been about three years since I last saw Hunt when she blew me away with her performance at the Kansas City Blues & Jazz Festival.
On Saturday, Kelley Hunt brought her band to the Cedar Cultural Center to offer her fiery brand of piano-based music to the Twin Cities. After a brief introduction, Hunt and company took the stage ready to entertain the crowded room. Rick Hertz (guitar), Ian Wallace (drums) and Al Berman (bass) backed up Hunt as the band opened with an original boogie woogie called "Smile." The band definitely hit the ground running with a song that included some great boogie woogie piano and a hot guitar solo by Rick Hertz.
Kelley Hunt and company burned through two great sets of music that covered a variety of musical styles including blues, boogie woogie, soul, Louisiana funk, rock and even gospel-tinged tunes. Nearly all of the material performed by Hunt was original material, some drawn from her life, friendships and influences. The two sets included songs from both of her current releases, Kelley Hunt and Inspiration. Highlights of the evening included a song called "Queen of the 88s" about her piano teacher and one of her early major influences, Mary Burke Norton; "Love Never Dies," a solo tribute to a close friend of hers and "Treat Me Right," a very cool Chicago-style piano blues. As an added bonus for the evening, Hunt previewed a number of new songs from her latest recording effort, currently in process and about half complete. Hunt's new compositions included "Glory Road," "Shake It Off" and "Hold On To Your Power." Both sets were characterized by enthusiastic response from the audience, including more than one standing ovation.
After thanking the audience personally and with a nice encore, Hunt concluded a wonderful performance at The Cedar. The fact that The Cedar is an intimate venue where audience and performers can really build a strong connection only made the show that much better. To find out more about upcoming events at the Cedar Cultural Center, visit their website at www.thecedar.org.
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