The James Hunter Six perform in The Current studio

James Hunter Six perform "(Baby) Hold On" live in the studios of 89.3 The Curren (MPR/Nate Ryan)
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The James Hunter Six perform in The Current studio (full session + interview)
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  • The James Hunter Six perform in The Current studio (full session + interview) 17:06
  • The James Hunter Six - If That Don't Tell You (live on 89.3 The Current) 02:19
  • The James Hunter Six - Satchel Foot (live on 89.3 The Current) 02:18
  • The James Hunter Six - (Baby) Hold On (live on 89.3 The Current) 02:24

The James Hunter Six have been together for more than two decades; when one of them puts down a riff, the others pick up on it, expand on it and continue the riff … and that's just their in-studio banter.

It's obvious Hunter and his friends enjoy one another's company, and that chemistry naturally shines through in their music. "I'll construct the basic skeleton of the arrangements," Hunter says. "They'll often take what I've done and improve it; they'll add little suggestions and add some bits and take some bits away, so it is quite a team effort."

The fruits of the James Hunter Six's collective labor are in full effect on the band's recent album, Hold On!, released on the Daptone label. In the middle of a two-night stand at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant in Minneapolis, the James Hunter Six visited The Current's studio for a session hosted by Bill DeVille.

Hunter's signing to Daptone Records seems a common-sense fit; another Daptone artist, Sharon Jones, has even said she'd like to perform a duet with Hunter. "I don't know if I could keep up with her, but I'll have a crack at it," Hunter says. "She's brilliant."

Being signed to Daptone is in line with Hunter's musical style and pedigree; he originally got hooked on the '60s-inflected soul sound during its U.K. resurgence in the late 1980s, a period during which a number of soul classics were being re-released. Perhaps influenced by the sounds of those earlier records, the James Hunter Six released Hold On! in mono. "I think that stereo is a bit of an overhang from the prog days — I think stereo is a bit retro!" Hunter quips, adding in earnest, "You can get as much dynamism in mono [as in stereo] … It's got the effect that everything is right up front."

All the efforts have served the band well, and Hunter was even named Best U.K. Soul Singer by Mojo magazine. "It would be a bit churlish to disagree," Hunter laughs, clearly flattered by the honor.

Listen to the complete interview to hear more from James Hunter, including his effects-free approach to playing electric guitar; the hair-raising origin of the song name, "Satchel Foot"; the influence of the Five Royales; and more of the James Hunter Six's laughter-filled studio chatter.

Songs Performed


"If That Don't Tell You"
"Satchel Foot"
"(Baby) Hold On"
All songs from the James Hunter Six's 2016 album, Hold On!, available on Daptone Records.

Hosted by Bill DeVille
Produced by Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Michael Demark, Sasha Druva and Erik Stromstad
Visuals by Nate Ryan
Web feature by Luke Taylor

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  • The Current's Guitar Collection: James Hunter, Gibson Les Paul When James Hunter saw a photo of Lightnin' Hopkins with a Gibson Les Paul, Hunter knew he wanted to get one. Hunter bought his Gibson Les Paul in 1999 and it's been his main instrument ever since; it's even had its neck replaced. 'This fight broke out; I wasn't there, but the guitar was,' Hunter says. 'Had it been the other way round, it'd be me with no neck!'

14 Photos

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    James Hunter performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
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    James Hunter performs in The Current studio (and contrary to his joking, he is using a tuner!). (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
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    James Hunter Six saxophonists Damien Hand (left) and Lee Badau. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
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    James Hunter performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
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    James Hunter Six saxophonists Damien Hand (left) and Lee Badau. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
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    Kyle Koehler on keyboards with the James Hunter Six, performing in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
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    James Hunter performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
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    The James Hunter Six perform in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
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    James Hunter performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
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    Kyle Koehler on keys and Jason Wilson on bass with the James Hunter Six. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
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    The James Hunter Six perform in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
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    James Hunter performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
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    Dave Mason on drums with the James Hunter Six. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
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    James Hunter (center) listens to the studio mix with The Current's production manager, Derrick Stevens (left) and audio engineer Michael DeMark (right). (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)

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