Q. We met about two and a half years ago when you began playing with Big John Dickerson and Blue Chamber. I believe, at that time you had just arrived from New York?
A. "Yeah, well actually around that time I was on tour with Billy Perry (Point Blank). We had come through town and played at Whiskey Junction. And, I think this place (Famous Dave's) had just opened, and I came down and sat in on a jam. I guess they were looking for a keyboard player at the time, and I think it was like the next week they called me up."
Q. How long did you play with Blue Chamber?
A." I was with Blue Chamber for about six months."
Q. Since leaving Blue Chamber, what have you been doing?
A. "I played with Tony Sims and The Big Bang for a little. Then I went out on the road and recorded with Bernard Allison in Memphis with Jim Gaines at Ardent Studios. We were recording and going out on the road at the same time, which took up most of the summer of '98. Then I came back to town and started playing around with that solo thing, tried some things with a band, but decided I just wasn't ready for that yet. Then I went on the road with Mary Cutrufello (Mercury), that was a different bag, yeah know, a little more rock and roll, but I figured I would give it a shot. We opened for The Allman Brothers all summer long, so, that was fun. I came back to town this
past August; I wanted to get into the studio and record before I put a band together. I don't know, but getting a band together would just get in the way of getting a CD out."
Q. Did you use the same musicians to record the CD, as the musicians that are in the band?
A. "Actually Rob Stupka and Gunnar (Jon Gunvaldson) are both on the CD and are both in the band. Then I got Gordy (Gordon Johnson) on Bass. There were a lot of guys I would like to have on bass, but I wanted an upright bass, I just like the style. Then I got Kenni Holmen to play sax on a couple of cuts. I had originally thought of getting Rick O'Dell because I know Rick and I really like the way he plays, but the timing just wasn't working out, so Jim Johnson at Westwood Studios, said "let me give this guy a call", and he called Kenni. This was like Kenni's fourth session of the day, and he came in and blew it, and did a hell of a job As it is, it worked out just fine, Kenni is a great sax player. I didn't know him real well, I think he used to play with Mambo's Combo. He's great session man, and does a lot of studio work."
Q. I'm not real familiar with Gordon Johnson.
A. "Gordy has played with Lorie Line recently, he has also played with Maynard Ferguson's band, Peter Erskine's band, and Chuck Mangione's band. He's not somebody you would find playing in the bars around town."
Q. Well I feel a little embarrassed. It sounds like he is someone I should have known, or heard of?
A. "No, No, its just a different kind of world, you know, he's just a real good player. He can cover a lot of things, whatever is called for in a gig. He's a jazz player to a degree, but you know jazz and blues have such a tie. He is great professional bass player, I wouldn't label him beyond that."
Q. Could you say that Gordon Johnson is what is known as a musician's musician?
Q. Tell me a little about the new CD. How long did it take you to put it together?
A. "After coming back from Boston at the end of August, I made a few calls, ended up in the studio on the 7th, 8th,and 9th of September, and the CD was out by the 15th of October. It just went so smooth. I had three days blocked out in the studio, and was just trying to get something happening. Then on the first day, we pretty much got everything done. It went well."
Q. I understand your CD release party was a success.
A. "Yeah, it went really well, we sold some CD's, it was real nice, we had a lot of fun."
Q. Back to the CD, You have some originals on there, what else do have?
A. "Some great blues standards, Trouble in Mind, Smack Dab in the Middle, and the CD is dedicated to Charles Brown, I'm a huge, huge Charles Brown fan."
Q. How long have you been playing organ / keyboards?
A. "Actually I'm more of a piano player than an organ player. There is no organ on the CD, just piano. I love to play the organ, but I didn't want any overdubbing. In Playing, I messed with it(the organ) a little when I was a teenager, then I was actually a voice major in college, then spent six years in the Navy. It was after I got out of the Navy when I started learning how to play the piano, without any luck really. It was about ten years ago that I really got started playing seriously."
Q. Are you satisfied with your career up until now? Have you reached your goal?
A. "Yeah, yes and no. My goal became to make a living as a musician; I'm I satisfied? I don't think I will ever be satisfied as a player."
Q. What CD's have you been listening too lately?
A. "Charles Browns' In A Grand Style, a little Jimmy McGriff, and some Gene Harris, I'm a big Gene Harris fan. I've been listening to a lot of organ stuff, lately. Another CD I've been listening to recently is one called "Mississippi Moan" by Bruce Katz, former piano and organ player for Ronnie Earl, who is a great, great keyboard player."
Q. Tell me some of the people you have had a chance to play and record with.
A. "The first recording I was on, was with a guy named Little Sammy Davis, made in a little eight track garage studio, it was just before I moved to North Carolina, so I think I ended up on about three cuts. Delmark later picked up that recording. He is just incredible, Sammy played with Earl Hooker for about twelve thirteen years, and then dropped out of site for a long time. Then when I hooked up with him, in the early '90's, he would come into the bars and just sit in, it was unbelievable. Here's this guy, Sammy, he could sing like Ray Charles, and play the harmonica like Little Walter, it turns out he has played with just about everybody. Then I did the Billy Perry thing, then the recorded with Bernard Allison, and now I'm doing This."
Q. Do you call the Twin Cities your home now?
A. " I like it here, It's a little to cold at times, but its home right now."
Tom Hunter CD Review
This interview is copyright © 1999 by Michael Evan, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
Photograph copyright © 1999 by Tom Asp, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.