Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley and Brad Kopplin
You'll find, if you hang out with the lot of talented Austin musicians for any given period of time that they like their cheap, crackerjack box sunglasses - made of soft, latent plastic frames of hyper color. Peter and the Wolf's Red Hunter was in Progress coffeehouse on the Friday afternoon of South By Southwest week with a pair on, rosining up the bow for use on his two exotic stringed instruments and positioning his kick drum and ride so that he could do it all in a Tone Wheel showcase that could have been the best performance that week that only 20 people witnessed. This emporium to the coffee bean - which does a heavenly chai and cinnamon rolls that that are just devilish - is located on the east side of the interstate separating downtown from the rest of the capital city, so it sits next to a resale furniture business and other industrial warehouses, not to mention soul food restaurants and taco joints.
The doors were open on this afternoon. The sun was a perfect warmth for a Peter and the Wolf performance and just the right yellow too, spilling in at the edges. It was a day that Austin had already had a number of, but for those coming from the brackish and white cold north, it was the first taste of a new season and it tasted like bags of sugar and quivers of lightning bolts. A gentle breeze blew in from the doors as well and it slipped an invisible comb through the front bang of Hunter's haircut. Ideally, this is where you see a man like Hunter perform his wild-hearted songs, which come from the depths of a hundred calendar years and with an effervescent studiousness for the greater things in life. Take all the time you'd like and even then, fully expounding on what makes Hunter's work attractive isn't nearly possible. It's unwritten and undiscerning. His caliber for capturing natural light and the way the insides play with it is unparalleled.
He's supremely confident in where he's going and in making these songs - the latest of which appear on another handmade CD Fireflies, which is only available through his website and MySpace page - with all varieties of styles and inflection in them, he burns a memorable impression. He's a big time superstar just waiting to happen, as funny as that sounds - being said about an indie musician who still sells handmade CDs, but Hunter is a big musical personality who gives off a free-spirited sensation when he sings that is the Wild West without the shoot-em-ups, just the wide open expanses of land, living off of it, using every part of the buffalo, looking up at the sky and recognizing its enormity and your dinkiness, constantly smelling like a smokehouse and the hints of potential harmony with all that's able to touch you and all that you can touch. Ladies and gentlemen, Red Hunter, whom you've not heard the first or last of.