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James Hunter: The Road To Glory

Essex singer-songwriter James Hunter was working on the railways when he found a path to blues glory under the stewardship of Van Morrison, Georgie Fame and Allen Toussaint. Now he’s one of Da

It was a situation crying out for the blues treatment. When James Hunter was nine years old, his family found themselves living in a caravan in an onion field on the outskirts of Colchester, Essex. “It’s true,” he chuckles today, “It was only temporary, but I grew up in that caravan. There wasn’t a lot to do, I was starved of entertainment, so my grandma gave me an old Dansette and some 78s to play on it. Jackie Wilson’s Reet Petite was one of them, I heard it and it gave me the taste.” You can hear Jackie Wilson’s birth of soul approach in James Hunter’s work – six albums spanning 1996’s …Believe What I Say on Ace Records to this year’s Hold On! on Daptone, plus a seventh, Cry Wilf! issued in 1986 on Big Beat! under the name Howlin’ Wilf & The Vee-Jays. Yet despite proudly wearing his influences on his sleeve – chief ones are Lowman Pauling, Sam Cooke, T-Bone Walker and Ray Charles – he’s very much his own man, an indelible part of the new soul and blues vanguard and now the Daptone label, joining Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings, Saun & Starr, Naomi Shelton And The Gospel Queens and Charles Bradley on the roster.


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