Guitar wizard Charlie Hunter and phenomenal vocalist Lucy Woodward rolled into the Cat's Cradle Back Room in Carrboro, NC to launch the tour behind their new album "Music!Music!Music!" which drops April 19. The vivacious virtuoso evolved from his customary 7- and 8-string guitars to employ a special 6-string made in NC which still enabled his stunning technique playing chunky rhythms, eclectic solos and funky bass all at once. Woodward's bona fides include a top 40 hit in 2002, extensive collaborations with members of Snarky Puppy, and several years singing in Rod Stewart's band. The tasteful and versatile drumming of Doug Belote, whose long resume includes his current gig with dobro king Jerry Douglas, completed the trio.
They cranked out a fun and ever-shifting show of swinging smoky jazz, retro pop, cool blues and laid-back funk punctuated by potent bursts of intense, improvised cross-pollination. The varied and unpredictable setlist included an endlessly funky take on Nina Simone's "Be My Husband", a deeply soulful rendition of The Animals' "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", and creative reimaginings of Terence Trent D'Arby's "Wishing Well" and Tony Bennett's "Angel Eyes." Their musical interplay was spacious yet buzzing with organic energy and an unmistakable joyousness, as the music was continuously reinvented and rediscovered to the eminent delight of the players themselves.
After two sets of innovative and intriguing music, they encored by revamping George Michael's "Faith" into a slow, sexy, sensual serenade, oozing with passion and emotion. As Woodward said in her bio about their last tour together, "Everything was just so natural, and every place we played, Charlie's audiences were so wonderful. They love to watch an experiment happen onstage; whether it's wrong or right, they embrace it, and that's really cool." With musicians this good, you've just got to have faith.
- Paul Kerr
- Photos by Todd E. Gaul, www.photophile.com