Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thursday Afternoon in Downtown Brooklyn: BAM Rhythm and Blues Festival presents Van Hunt with Ruthie Price at MetroTech Commons

Despite the heat, we had a comfortable seat in the shade of the trees at MetroTech Commons in downtown Brooklyn for a lunchtime concert by the brilliant R&B vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Van Hunt, joined by Ruthie Price, doing superb accompaniment on drums.
This show was part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's wonderful annual BAM Rhythm and Blues Festival, now in its eighteenth year.
Van Hunt played some old favorites -- old being relative, since his debut album arrived in 2004, instantly establishing him as a distinctive and original talent with its idiosyncratic amalgamation of R&B, neo-soul, funk, pop, and rock ‘n’ roll and earning him a 2005 “Best Urban/Alternative Performance” Grammy nomination for his breakthrough hit single, “Dust.”
The equally inventive On The Jungle Floor followed two years later, highlighted by the single, “Character.”
Today Van hunt played some of the terrific tracks from his new album What Were You Hoping For?, featuring Ruthie Price's amazing drums work.
The Vancouver Sun said the album
fuses Hendrix/Kravitz/Mayfield stylings with a punk/funk-driven guitar edge akin to Neil Young, the Stooges and cult Detroit proto-punk trio Death, which was rocking the underground in the early ’70s.
What Were You Hoping For? is where Hunt really finds his groove. . . "Watching You Go Crazy Is Driving Me Insane" [our favorite] barrels along at incredible speed with a mighty crunch,
"Designer Jeans" boasts a gritty bump-and-grind, blown-out psych-blues fuzz [the lunchtime crowd today adored this],
and Plum incorporates surrealistic poetry and ramshackle guitar noodlings.
The album’s lo-fi esthetics also work to Hunt’s advantage on ballads like the Isley Brothers-tinged "Moving Targets.
We were bowled over by Van Hunt's iconoclastic sounds and startlingly versatile range and equally impressed with Ruthie Price's ace work on drums.
This was an incredibly enjoyable show, and we're grateful to BAM's R&B Festival for continuing to bring great musicians to downtown Brooklyn on summer Thursday afternoons.

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