Concord based musician Senie Hunt will release his first studio album this weekend. The five track composition features Hunt’s impressive talents as a finger-style guitarist. Hunt frequently performs across the state, and he joined NHPR’s Peter Biello in the studio to talk about his music.
Was it your family that introduced you to this kind of music?
Sort of. My family introduced me to guitar. I was adopted from Sierra Leone originally, and when I was there I played drums. So when I came over here, I heard the guitar for the first time. I think we're listening to James Taylor or something like that and I didn't know what it was. And my family told me, 'Oh, it's a guitar.' And right away I was like, 'I want to play guitar.' And so I got my first guitar probably around seven years old, and I didn't know what to do with it. So I just flipped it over and would drum on it. And that's how the style eventually evolved.
Because there is some percussive element to what you're playing, right?
Yeah. So finger style I guess I didn't really get into it until later in middle school. I'm self-taught so what happened was I kind of had to hear it first before I would play it. When I was younger I was into a lot of rock and hard rock and blues and I didn't hear a finger style until I got a little older.
What do you like about it?
Well I love that it's sort of a mix of all the aspects of an orchestra. You have the drums, the percussion, you have the bass lines, the melodies, the harmonies, the chords and everything compact into one instrument.
Can you tell us a little bit about “A False Spring Dance” and how you developed it?
I was kind of in a springy mood because it was written around the first day of spring a few years back. And it sort of got that idea of like how can I make this song sound like exciting, but also in New Hampshire, your first day of spring we still have snow on the ground. So you kind of get that vibe that 'Oh we're excited, but kind of like holding back because we know we might get another snowstorm.' And so that fast finger style that I was doing captured that excitement and the drum in the background was holding back that excitement just a little bit. I would do it by getting my palm onto the guitar while also keeping my pinky and pointer finger free to pluck the string.
I meet regularly with a group of folks at True Brew in Concord where you host the open mic night, and whenever we hear the opening to “A False Spring Dance” we're like, 'Oh, there's that guy again -- that guy who's really good at guitar.' And another of those songs is called “Song Bird.” Tell us a little bit about this song.
I wrote this song sitting in the middle of the woods in Vermont on a water tower. I walked up to this water tower that was down this trail and I felt like I need to do something while I'm sitting here. And I ended up taking my guitar out and my notepad out and just writing lyrics, describing my experience there. When I'm in nature everything that happens, happens and there's no reason, necessarily, for it. But there's also no argument to it. I mean you just let it happen. The birds do what they do not because of you or anything else interfering, but just because that's what they do. The wind will blow regardless of whether I'm there or I'm still in classes or sitting in a car. But then again you also think we are part of nature. So it's kind of like that confusion of is what we do natural or is everything else that happens around us natural?
So you were adopted from Sierra Leone. What impact if any does your status as someone who's adopted have on your music?
Because I am so passionate about my roots and where I came from, I put that into my music, and the style I play is more unique because I incorporate that with my music.
Do you ever want your birth parents to hear what you're doing now?
Yes. My plan is to go over there and perform for them all.
Oh, when are you going?
We're not sure yet. It's been hard because we had the Ebola outbreak recently and then we had a civil war there and that's why we came over. But things [have] kind of quieted down a little bit. But now I want to have something to try to bring to them to help.
Senie Hunt’s album Song Bird is now available in online music stores and his album launch party is on Saturday, May 11 at 9:30 p.m. at Dos Amigos in Concord. The launch party was organized by NH Music Collective.