Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sixty And Counting

On Sunday December 22nd,  I turn 60 years old. This birthday seems hard. I am not sure whether to be grateful that I have made it thus far or cheesed off that parts of my body including the bones in my spine are apparently falling apart right in front of my eyes, so to speak. 

Having said that, there is one thing that being 60 allows you to feel you can do and that is to say what you mean and mean what you say.
I have become a recent disciple of the Bob Lefsetz Letters and now get them delivered to my in box on and off all week.

He writes largely about the music industry and can be scathing and near the knuckle.  I do not agree with everything he writes, but why should I? I do not agree with some things my best friends say or write. But, how he writes is what inspires me. He is succinct, opinionated, and intelligent and often writes what I wish I had thought in the first place.

So, now I feel that if I made it to 60 I can at least allow myself the privilege of getting a few things off my chest.

Steve and I did a Kickstarter campaign last year, a campaign that resulted in the creation of ‘The Manhattan Blues Project’. It was very hard work, by that I mean the logistics and the feeling of obligation to give people what they had not only contributed to, but what they expected from a man they admired. We intended to produce the best possible end result, an album to be really proud of. An album that took blood, sweat and tears to create, an album that allowed Steve to move forward not backwards with both his playing and his production skills.

Some of the most rewarding things that have being said about that album is how good the audio quality is. How it is one experience to hear it through speakers and another to hear it through headphones. That is because Steve intended it that way. There are swirls and subtle shifts in the ambient experience that cannot be heard on most speakers but can be heard through headphones. It took years of dedication to the art of playing, arranging, composing and recording to reach that standard.

Kickstarter has gone from strength to strength, but along the way it has picked up a bit of negative press. I am referring to a few major movie projects and I guess I did wonder why the likes of Spike Jones needed to do a Kickstarter project in the first place. But, maybe movie making is the same as the music industry? Nobody wants to put their corporate hand in their pockets anymore.

My point is, that crowd funding has opened the door to artists being able to produce work that they truly believe in, it has enabled artists that slip through the musical corporate net (and Steve is surely one of those) to make some sort of a living out of what they do best.
He has had 40 years being part of world class recordings, 40 years weaving his extraordinary talent within tracks that without a doubt benefitted from his unique contribution.  He is out on his own for better or for worse but he has me to watch his back.

I do hope that crowd funding, be it Kickstarter or any other form of collecting backing funds does not suffer abuse, that would be a travesty, as people will lose their trust and faith in the integrity of those who follow after us.

We are being nagged to death by requests for help, this charity, that charity, but how can one complain, it is so tough out there to be noticed, unless you are a cute, risqué young popstar.  I am cynical in my old age, I watch very carefully whom I give my offerings to. As best as I can, I make sure that all the money I give goes to the needy and does not inadvertently line the pocket of yet another abuser of trust.

I am happier, more content, more creative and wackier than I remember being when I was 20 years old and that is perfect.  I am a person who will listen more than talk and that takes a lifetime of practice.

So, bring it on 60! Here I am standing headlong into the winds of the future. Firm and strong despite my aches and pains, it could be far far worse. I would quite like to grow old rather disgracefully and will go down kicking and screaming that life is too short to be inattentive to the details, that is what makes being alive and creating art worthwhile.



Sunday, September 15, 2013

Filming in LA in 2013

One of my dreams has been that Steve would be filmed playing his own material. And that dream has come true.  

As much as I love the DVD with Lou Reed's 'Berlin Live' or Alice's live shows. For me, to hear Steve at his best would be with a smaller line up and less volume so we could hear live, his subtle bends, his fingers on the strings and most all his TONE!

After the Kickstarter campaign was finished we were contacted by Brian Brinkerhoff who had made a pledge on the album, he asked us if Steve might be interested in being filmed for a DVD. Brian's original idea was to have Steve on his own playing a selection of his own material from four solo albums with solo guitar, but as the discussions progressed it was clear that Steve was not comfortable with the restrictions of no chords, no drums for a groove and no fellow players.

After a few months in the planning and some considerable shuffling of dates to accommodate the players we wanted, we found ourselves with a date in August to rehearse and film.

What a thrill it was when Tony Levin and Phil Aaberg were up for joining Steve and then awesome drummer Alvino Bennet was added to the line up.
The last time Phil, Steve and Tony had worked together was with Peter Gabriel on his first solo album.






Phil Aaberg, Steve and Tony Levin.
Photo by Marcus Cuff 2013










Brian found a studio in N. Hollywood and Steve and I found ourselves on a plane again. It brought back memories of the seven months on the road in 2011 but this time the flight was only an hour, just enough time for me to look through the SkyMall magazine and gaze at the desert mountains below.

I was looking through the pages in the magazine and there in front of me was a small leather wallet design exactly the same as a design I had for a pouch to hold guitar picks, I call it the Pick Pocket. What! They had stolen my design! Wait! I had a Design Patent didn't I? Doh! Lesson number three thousand and ten, turns out there is NO POINT in paying for a Design Patent on a small item like that. There are so many loopholes in the rights of usage it is like water thru a rice drainer. Oh well, you live and learn.

So, on to LA. We got picked up at the airport by Karo, our trusty Arminian car driver who had also doubled as our witness to our wedding back in 2007. He was so happy to see us again as we were him and he got his very own copy of Steve's new CD 'The Manhattan Blues Project', he was smiling like a cheshire cat!
We got to stay in a hotel we were familiar with, we had stayed there when Steve had done the Jay Leno Show with Alice back in 2011. Back then, in a pet shop across the road there had been a gorgeous white Cockatiel who seemed to wait for Steve to pass by so he or she could have a short but interactive and silent conversation. Truth is Steve fell in love with that bird and had we not been on the road we may well have gone home with it.
The bird had long gone to a new home of course, we were glad about that, but there were still many cages of kittens, cats and dogs, mostly small yappy things.
In one of the cages was a beautiful pale ginger tabby cat with brown eyes, on the way to the breakfast cafe next door each morning, it responded to Steve through the window, putting up it's paw to try to touch him. Eventually we went inside to say a proper hello......oh blimy, we could not have possibly been thinking we could take it home to Phoenix! But, in we went anyway.

The woman got the cat out of the cage for us, she said it was sleepy cos it had just been fed. I held it first then Steve took over, the cat lay limply in his arms, eyes open but all kind of floppy....Steve was stroking her but she made not a sound. He said to the woman, "she is not purring"? The woman walked off, mmmmm, we thought, and then mmmmm again. Sadly we left that sweet cat there, not convinced all was well and we had a very tight schedule to keep, no time to investigate and decide whether we could fly her back home with us.

The first day of rehearsals, the reunions with old friends from so long ago were over, the work began. Going over the carefully selected tunes. The main idea was to not over rehearse them so they stayed fresh but of course Steve was having to remember melodies he had recorded as far back as 1977!  He kept saying that he was not used to having to learn his own tunes, usually someone else's which he thought was easier. Also, there were new arrangements to try, there were none of the many layers of guitars available which is what Steve had done on most of the original recordings. Instead there were just three other awesome players; bass, drums and piano, a small but highly experienced team.

I will tell you that the first day was just a tad fraught, not because of the players but the studio left a little to be desired. There seemed to be endless snags with monitoring, wires, connections that did not work. How patient everybody was; the chief engineer we had with us must have been counting to ten the entire time and to his credit he only quietly exploded a few times, I would have gone ballistic, so well done to Paul Lani and Brian.

At the same time as rehearsals on the first day, Brian had the excellent photographer Marcus Cuff there to capture the event from start to finish plus a set design team.
I cannot tell you too much about that cos it will spoil things but it was cool, as with all things Steve does it will have a vibe that will be understated and simply.....cool.

Brian gets it, he gets what Steve Hunter is about, I will be forever grateful to him, that he pulled this project together and made it happen.

On the second day we were joined by the camera crew, one camera for each player, they had a pretty tight space to work in but somehow managed to not get in each others way. Most of the studio tech snags were sorted out by the second day and on the third day the tunes were filmed, usually twice right through unless there were problems with a take.

Steve's poor vision is a problem, it cannot be denied. He has some trouble seeing the frets at times and occasionally as on the Cooper tour in 2011 you could hear he was fighting to hit the spots he wanted to hit. But as I watched from the control room, pulled in by the extraordinary chemistry that was going on in that studio, I was so mesmerized by his tone and the soul and the raw talent from the whole band, it just did not matter. How could it, this is what Steve lives for, to have the space, the time and the opportunity to be play at a whisper and still be heard or give it some attitude with his fantastic sounding Gretsch Custom Guitars. To be who he really is and say on guitar what he really wants to say. That is all that matters.

My job was to make sure there was a good cup of coffee and lunch supplied during the day and I also became an off camera interviewer of each of the band and Steve. Those bits will be an interesting and touching addition.

I have seen a couple of very short clips of the footage and I think this will be a wonderful legacy of Steve with a great team around him and an inspiring audio and visual experience.

DVD and CD due for release in the Spring of 2014.

PS: I have picked up where I left off with my book about the 2011 AC tour, maybe I will get it finished after all!




Alvino Bennett




Photo by Tony Levin 2013




Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Your Thoughts On 'The Manhattan Blues Project'.





Jeb Wright (Classic Rock Revisited)

"This album is Steve Hunter’s masterpiece"

Read more


Joe Satriani

"I am honored to play along side legendary guitarist Steve Hunter on his stunning new album, check it out!"


Joe Viglione

"To date The Manhattan Blues Project is the best album I’ve heard and reviewed all year, and it goes without saying that a lot of CDs have come through my mailbox"

Read More
http://www.tmrzoo.com/2013/45306/music-review-steve-the-deacon-hunters-the-manhattan-blues-project

Rikki St James 

Steve Hunter, The Guitar Player and inspiration for thousands of guitarists, has a NEW CD. I was so ecstatically pleased to hear his Manhattan Blues Project..Dynamics galore in this compilation..

The entire cd is well worth picking up, you will NOT be disappointed.
Liked "The Brooklyn Shuffle" and "222 W. 23rd" (Hotel Chelsea address) a lot. 
For anyone who has lived in NYC this cd will take you right home.

You fella's brought Manhattan to the streets in a big way...Thank You...........Rsj


Don Richard

Listening to the new Steve Hunter CD, The Manhattan Blues Project. OMG!!! It has my favorite song that Steve originally performed on, and wrote the guitar parts for, on Peter Gabriel's first solo effort, and that I have been begging him to put out on an album since 1999!!! Solsbury Hill. Absolutely PHENOMENAL!!! This album is absolutely great Steve! Thank you, Thank you!!!! Thank you for being a friend also! A very special thanks to Karen Ann Hunter too for being such a great friend also! I am so glad to have gotten to meet you and know you both. The atmosphere of this album is putting me in another world, another train of thought and not worrying about anything that life has thrown at me recently. It is so great when music moves you that way.


John Phillips 

The Manhattan Blues Project is a work of beauty. A wonderful collection of originality. The production is flawless and pulls you right in. This is one of the best sounding albums I've heard in years! The songs are works of art. This is not your typical blues album. Finally a blues album without the tired blues cliches. This is blues that breathes. This is blues with depth. This isblues with character. What I like best about this album is that there is a deep sense of melancholy running in the blood of these songs yet it is mixed with the feeling of optimism. One listen to this album and one can tell that not only is Steve Hunter a great guitar player but also a man with a heart. Somewhere Chet Atkins is smiling!


David Purple Hayes



....WOW !.....OK all you Blues lovers and guitar lovers , it is out there Steve Hunter's new CD The Manhattan Blues Project is off the chain amazing !....if you love the Blues this is a must have in your CD collection and if you love great guitar this is going to be one of your favorites !...just got mine the other day and have been tied up a bit with the amp work but I have listened to it a few times and then we (Jen and I) listened to it last night and OMG it is just hard to put into words....for those of you that know Steve and may have heard Short Stories there a couple of songs that to me have the short story vibe like 222 W 23rd , the whole thing is amazing ....now to me track 8 with Johnny Depp is some really cool stuff ,the guitars are driving in Brooklyn Shuffle , I absolutely love this song ...it takes me back to the old ,old ass Rock & Roll days with that special Steve Hunter touch , just blown away with this whole CD , now for the bonus , Steve's lovely wife Karen Ann Hunter does an amazing job with the backup vocals on this CD and yes there is more , Phil Aaberg,2 Cellos,Johnny Depp,Marty Friedman,Michael Lee Firkins,Tommy Henriksen,Tony Levin,Joe Perry and Joe Satriani.....so to all my friends and especially musician friends and music lovers , get a copy or buy a download of this amazing CD !


RETROKIMMER.COM

Just got Steve Hunter's new cd in the mail...I love it....It is a phenomenal album. So beautiful and so smooth. Steve's wife Karen Ann Hunter and I became friends awhile back and when she mentioned starting a Kickstarter Campaign for Steve I was ONBOARD to get this legendary guitarist all the funding he needed. The team blasted Steve's campaign all over the globe! Karen, Steve and I had quite an adventure! 

When the campaign hit it's mark, I was jumping all over my office! Steve ended up with 3 times the amount he asked for! Sweet! So here is the amazing result....You can really feel the power in Steve's playing here..He just entered the best phase of his musical career....

I love Brooklyn Shuffle so much...the first solo is Steve, the second is Johnny Depp,  and the third is JOE Perry....I have played this tune about 9 times today so far....


Rob Rockwell

"Outstanding" is a word that aptly describes Steve Hunter's latest effort:The Manhattan Blues Project. Contributing tracks to the cd is a stellar lineup of seasoned veteran musicians including Joe Perry, Tony Levin, and Joe Satriani. The smooth, easy listening tunes are a must-have in any blues music collection. The pristine audio quality will appeal to audiophiles as well. Whether cruising down the highway or relaxing at home,this new release by Steve Hunter is sure to please. With backing vocals and cover design by Steve's wife Karen Ann Hunter, this makes a total package worth checking out.


Alain Duchêne


Many many thanks ! I'm so moved... Really.... This music sounds so cool, so sensitive, so essential.

I remember Miles Davis said "Why to play so many notes ,so fast ? 

You only have to play the beautiful ones"..

That's what i feel when i listen to your music. Steve's playing so marvelous melodies, with such a feeling.

It's difficult for me to express exactly what i feel, 'cause i'm french speaking and it' not easy for me to put words on real emotions. I'm sure you know what i'm speaking about.

Sorry for my mistakes in american/english ;o)

I'll take the time to discover that wonderful piece of music on my own, day after day..This cd is a real gift for any musician.

Tim and Gwen Ziek

CONGRATULATIONS on a TERRIFIC ALBUM.

I have always considered Steve to be one of the the VERY BEST GUITAR PLAYERS.

Steve's music is very defined and crisp, and also has that GREAT BLUES TONE.

The Guest Performers are some of the COOLEST ARTISTS on this earth.

"Birds of a feather flock together."  I could tell that everyone had their heart and soul in this album.

I also enjoyed the background vocals, very serene but uplifting.

The Album cover is a work of art in itself. GREAT PHOTOGRAPHY !

( I can not wait to hang the framed album poster.)

The album is a nice tribute to a great city.


                                                Jason Becker 

Steve, my brother! I can't even express how much I love this album! Every note you play is magical. I don't think anyone alive has your heart and soul. All of your featured guests did fantastic jobs. But your touch is so beautiful. I am honored to be a part of it. I love you, man! We have to get a copy to our buddy Matt Blackett. He will love it. 
Take care of your bad ass self! 


Review by Steven Crayn

The sound of the New York sidewalk taxi cabs lead us into the serene 'Prelude To The Blues', the first tune on the new Steve Hunter album The Manhattan Blues Project. 
Things start to build as we walk down '222 West 23rd' featuring a rap from Cooper trooper Tommy Henriksen, reminiscent of The Sopranos theme, with a slide solo to die for from Michael Lee Firkins.
Steve's muse Karen Hunter providing sweet backing vocals as she does on a number of tracks on this album.
The Big Apple themes take us next to 'Gramercy Park' with Steve's unmistakable tone and touch setting us up for 'A Night At The Waldorf' with Phil Aaberg's piano, juxtaposed with The Deacon in Blues heaven.
A reworking of Peter Gabriel's 'Solsbury Hill' reunites Steve Hunter and Tony Levin, who both played on the original version by the ex Genesis frontman, on his solo debut masterwork in 1977.  This version is also something to observe, a master class in technique, but with the subtlety musicians and fans have always loved in Steve's playing.
'Daydream By The Hudson' composed and programmed by an inspiration to us all Jason Becker, sets us up nicely for a visit to the building where John Lennon was murdered, in a moving tribute to not just John, but another Beatle George, in 'Flames At The Dakota'.
'The Brooklyn Shuffle' has 3 guitar solos Steve takes the first, Johnny Depp (yes the actor!) the second and Aerosmith gunslinger Joe Perry the third, you can tell the guys are having fun on this one.
A heartfelt interpretation of Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On' sees Steve at his guitar lyrical best, talking to us through his countermelody on Marvin's message.
'Ground Zero' fills you with sadness, but hope springs eternal with 'Twilight In Harlem' which rocks in the free world in 7/8 time, as Joe Satriani and Marty Friedman tear it up in a guitar battle.
'Sunset In Central Park' featuring the evocative Cello's of Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, ends this beautiful album from one of my guitar heroes. 
It was a pleasure to not just listen to but to help fund through Kickstarter. 
Thanks Steve & Karen Hunter for seeing this album through during Steve's recent health problems.


Bill McCue

Just had to let EVERYONE know that I got the new CD by Steve Hunter called The Manhattan Blues Project. Words can't even express how "GREAT" this album is. Thank you Steve Hunter and Karen Ann Hunter.


Sunila Sen Gupta

I knew it would be great so that was not a surprise, what blew me away was the sound quality. I got used to the fact that my old stereo was probably too old and the new speakers I bought last year not that good. Or my hearing has gone over the years, but no! Perfect mix, amazing sound, one can hear every little detail. I wish all current albums could sound like this.


Hunter Goatley


I received my copy of Steve Hunter's new CD, The Manhattan Blues Project, yesterday. This disc is awesome! I'm often leery about solo projects from guitarists because guitar-noodling can be annoying, but Steve's playing is so incredibly soulful and restrained that it's a pleasure to listen to it (no guitar acrobatics passing as playing here). The special guests---ranging from Johnny Depp to Joe Perry and Karen Ann Hunter---add to the album while never taking away from Steve's music. I _highly_ recommend you pick up a copy! You can sample the songs at the link below, too.
Darin Scott


The CD is fantastic !!! Like when you talk to Steve he means every word he says , & you can say the same thing about his guitar playing , He means every note he plays !!! The recording just drips with raw emotion !!! Blues / Rock guitar playing at its best !!! Wow I am just totally blown away !!! Not only the great guitar playing from Steve , but also his top notch songwriting , production & arrangements !!! Not to mention the outstanding performances by Steve's guests Joe Satriani , Tony Levin , Johnny Depp , Joe Perry , Michael Lee Firkins , Tommy Henrikson , Phil Aaberg , Marty Friedman , 2Cellos , & of course Karen Hunter !!! I can't pick a favorite track ... I like them all !!! 


Jeff Young

If I tell all my friends that Mr. Steve schooled BOTH Jason Becker & yours truly in the art of "the blues" - I bet they'll all run out & buy his new LP!!! :)

Rick Langford

This is by far the best Blues album I have heard in a long time.
This album is worth more than one listen.

Homeless Jones

I just received Steve's CD today, going on the second listen. What a beautiful feel this effort has through out, Classic SH!
Must be a proud moment in the Hunter household.
Many Thanks HJ. 


Jerry Dunaway

I knew it was going to be good from the sneak preview I got in Dec. but it is better than that. Really a great set of songs. I think my favorite is Twilight in Harlem.


2Cellos

We are so thrilled to be featured on the Steve Hunter new album! legendary guitar player

Tommy Henriksen

"steve hunters's new record "TMBP" is a wonderful journey of guitar!! i love this album steve!! and the packaging looks fantastic!! great job!! steve and karen hunter!!" T3


Jake Delacroix: 

Beautiful record! I'm honored that Steve asked me to play on it.


Louisa Hunter


Hey everyone...Check out cdbaby.com for Steve's latest. The Manhatten Blues Project. It is wonderful. Yes, I am prejudiced, but also very picky about what I listen to. Have had it less than 24 hours, and have already listened to it four times. Sweet melodies, soulful tones and a few surprises make it an experience to remember. Every tune paints an emotional picture, and pays tribute in so many ways to one of the worlds greatest cities, as well as Steve's love of the blues. He and Karen have worked long and hard on this latest project. Their love and passion for their music and each other shine above all else. Congratulations to the two of you, you have done an amazing job!!!!!

Mel Ludlam

OMG arrived this morning in sunny UK,just played what an album a must buy for any guitar blues fan awesome. Thanks Steve get well soon so we can have some more of this wonderful music and thanks Karen.

Kerry Kudla

We listened to the new album twice on our way into NYC to see the Stooges and once on the way home. Add yet another Masterwork to Steve's resume, incredible musicianship all around(and Karen's vocals are beautiful as well).



Steve Harris
I received the best "care package" that I have ever received in my life. The new cd is totally awesome. I am afraid that I will wear it out before I quit playing it. The cd is everything that I dreamed it would be and more. Anyone out in cyberspace that hasn' bought one doesn't know what they are missing out on and it is a lot. All I can say is WOW! WOW and WOW AGAIN. Fantastic job to all of the great musicians onboard.