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"People would ride their bikes right up to where the stage was," Hunt explains. "If they liked you, they revved their bikes after the song, and it gets really loud with thousands of them doing this. People told me about it before I went on. They said, 'If this happens, it's a good thing.'"
Hunt received more enthusiastic "vrooms" the next afternoon in Deadwood, South Dakota, where she played a welcome rally for the bikers. "It was during the day, so we could really see what was going on," she says. "People were just rowdy at this deal. If they like it, you know it. They're up, they're dancing, and they're screaming. You get that immediate feedback."
Hunt played sizable festivals earlier this year, such as the Eureka Springs Blues Festival in Arkansas, where she performed an impromptu "women's jam" that featured guitarist Debbie Davies, among others, and the venerable Monterey Blues Festival in Monterey, California, at which she shocked a crowd that was expecting "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
"I was sort of the oddball, being a girl from Kansas," Hunt says. "The curiosity factor was pretty high, and that really worked in my favor. Anytime I get too far away the Midwest, people go, 'Where are you from?' I guess they assume I'm going to show up and play country music or something. It's always kind of a nice little jolt to their system that it's something different than they expect."
By contrast, in Sturgis it was Hunt's turn to be pleasantly surprised. "It's not like a festival where people are there just for the music," she says. "They're there for all kinds of stuff, and I mean all kinds of stuff. But when the music part happens, they're primed and ready to go. It was nice to be accepted in a setting like that. I really wasn't too sure, because I'm not metal, I'm not alternative, I'm not old southern rock, any of those things that I knew would be well-received there. But if you can play there, you can do anything. It makes everything else seem pretty mild."
The hard part might be out of the way, but Hunt still has a packed festival schedule that has her traveling to Dallas, St. Louis, South Carolina, and Tucson, Arizona, among other stops. Before heading back on the road, Hunt will give local listeners a chance to celebrate the release of her new live CD, Inspiration, with a performance at the Grand Emporium on August 26.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Buster ...
Given that harmonica master Brody Buster has been a fixture on the local scene for years, it's easy to forget that he's still too young to drive. All that changes on August 22, when Buster celebrates his sweet 16th with a jam that's sure to draw some of the city's biggest names in jazz. In the weeks prior to this festive event, Buster has taken his blues-harp gospel on the road. The response has been enthusiastic, to say the least -- it was rumored that Buster's shirt had been ripped by adoring fans at a recent Elvis Fest in Tupelo, Mississippi. "Ripped?" he corrects. "They took the damn thing!" Should admirers make off with his shirt again during his birthday show, they might be greeted with a surprise, as Buster says he might get tattooed before the concert now that he's of age. Other than picking up his license, getting inked, and playing music, Buster doesn't have any other solid plans for the big day. "We're just going to have fun," he says. "That's what a birthdays are all about -- partying and having fun." On a more serious note, Buster's birthday show is dedicated to the late musician Mayfield Towns, who passed away on Buster's birthday in 1994.