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RED HUNTER INTERVIEW: A LIFE ON THE AMERICAN HIGHWAY

by Donald M. Rosen Thursday, Apr. 21, 2005 at 5:17 AM

Wandering troubador Red Hunter begins Spring 2005 tour on Whiskey and Apples Records.

RED HUNTER INTERVIEW...
red_hunter_in_austin_photo_by_k_woo.jpg, image/jpeg, 416x623

We met at Spiral House in Austin, the loft/studio where Red recorded his latest bunch of records, “The Murder Mystery,” “Peter & the Wolf,” and “The Drinking Songs of Henry Hunter.” There is a nervousness about this kid I didn’t feel last time we spoke. It’s been four months or so and a lot has changed. All the funding was in place for Red to open up a venue in Austin but I’ve been told that a frantic late night phone call to Charlie Shaw, the man behind the scenes at Whiskey and Apples Records, ended once and for all the idea of Mr. Hunter’s staying put anywhere. I thought that might be a good place to start our interview. In what I hoped would be a calming voice, I attempted to engage Red in a conversation:

DR: So your tour begins this Friday?

RH: Yeah, Austin to NY and back.

[He gets up and starts pacing, he doesn’t want to be here. I can tell he’s itching to get back to work.]

DR: And I’m hearing that the venue you were set to open isn’t going to happen. Tell me a little about the phone call you made to Mr. Shaw.

RH: I’m assuming he already told you, but I basically called him and said I couldn’t get stuck in any one city right now. It was late at night and I was freaking out because if I don’t keep moving I start to go crazy. So he said okay and helped me start putting another tour together instead.

DR: Are you happy to be touring, then?

RH: If I could, I’d get rid of every single thing you see here. All of it, the tables and chairs, the desk, most of the clothing, the pillow, the blanket, and especially that lousy computer. The day I don’t have to see another computer again I’ll buy a beer for everyone at Lovejoy’s. Then I’ll walk out this door with my guitar and my backpack and I’d never live anywhere again. I’m close this time. I’m real close to having it all set up. I’m writing a book about it, you know. It’s called “The Order of the Owl” and it’ll be done this summer. The book itself is really just a meditation exercise that is helping me to get rid of all this stuff and put myself in motion so I don’t have to stop. It’s like getting a rocket out of the Earth’s atmosphere. Once I figure out this last couple of things, I’ll just keep going forever.

DR: Sort of like when you were a kid, with your father in the Navy.

RH: Boy, you really do your homework.

DR: So you basically want to live on the highways of America for awhile. What about overseas?

RH: Europe is great and everything but I feel like I have more to learn about America right now and I could definitely keep wandering around here for the next year or so. It’s like a test. There’s some things I’m not seeing yet about this place, the way that the farmers and the service industry and the factories and the oil barons and cops and politicians all fit together, the way the law is interacting with the hospitals and the way traffic has gotten insane in certain areas while others have become ghost towns. I’m taking a good, long look at this country before I try figuring out how it fits into the rest of the world.

DR: Well, I hope the gas prices don’t slow you down.

RH: I still do most of the long stretches at 110 miles an hour, but I seem to have a lot less money for food and booze.

DR: And how are the ladies treating you these days?

RH: Sort of like, “Hi, nice to meet you. Wish you lived here so I could give a damn. Bye.” Maybe I’ll meet a nomadic photojournalist librarian who can come along with me and give me history lessons. Or knows how to read a map.

DR: Oh, that’s right! I heard somewhere that you’re out there on these tours and you don’t use a map. Is that true?

RH: Yes. This will be my third large-scale tour in America and I have never once had a map with me. The first time I went I had a cell phone, but I threw that into the Colorado river when I moved to Texas.

DR: And Dana’s doing a few shows with you, right?




[Dana Falconberry sings harmonies with Red and plays mandolin in Peter & the Wolf.]

RH: Yeah, the first couple shows and the last couple, and she hooked us up with a great show in Arkansas. She’s the best.

DR: Is it true that you guys do some kind of pagan rituals to come up with song lyrics?

RH: I don’t know. Ask your Ouija board.

DR: Come on. There’s an article on Whiskey and Apples that says you guys throw rabbit bones and use ashes and stuff to come up with three word phrases for your lyrics.

RH: I think that article actually says that the singer’s name is Henry Rutherford Jones or something like that, so you better run that one past your fact checkers.

DR: I don’t have any fact checkers.

RH: You wouldn’t really have much use for them, anyhow.

DR: Because I don’t have any facts. I get it. Ha ha.

RH: Yeah, and because you’re pretty much a strange old man, Don. Remember that time I played the Moonlight Sonata at your house and you got all spooked and ran out into the street?

DR: That was a long time ago. I’ve been on a pretty strong cocktail of prescription drugs since then.

RH: Yeah, but you really freaked out. I mean, you were naked at one point, weren’t you? Yelling something about—what was it—those creepy dragon things. Um, I want to say Gargamels but that’s not it.

DR: Gargoyles, dude.

RH: Yeah, that’s it! You were all like, “Gargoyles! Oh my God, they’re up in the SKYYYYY!”

DR: That was a long time ago, Red.

RH: Yeah, back when everyone called me Brian.

DR: That’s before we found out your middle name came from Otis Redding.

RH: What can I say? My parents were cool.

[At this point, we decided to end the interview and go get beers. Red has been drinking a lot of Samuel Smith lately, and I have to drink Smirnoff Ice because it’s the only thing that doesn’t upset the delicate balance of the fourteen or so antidepressants I swallow each and every godforsaken day.

Red Hunter’s new record is called "The Drinking Songs of Henry Hunter." It's available at www.whiskeyandapples.com/artists

His Spring 2005 Tour (some shows with Peter & the Wolf) begins in Austin, Texas at Church of the Friendly Ghost, April 22nd, 8pm. See www.whiskeyandapples.com/news for tour dates and details.]

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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 6 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
wonderful interview Meyer London Thursday, Apr. 21, 2005 at 5:25 PM
yeah Sheepdog Thursday, Apr. 21, 2005 at 6:56 PM
how about a drink sam the butcher Tuesday, May. 03, 2005 at 3:22 PM
What's America's role in the world? Yar Tuesday, May. 03, 2005 at 3:25 PM
hunter is starting a charity I got it. Tuesday, May. 03, 2005 at 4:14 PM
uh, what? red Wednesday, May. 04, 2005 at 4:35 PM

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