The Hunts host exclusive show for students


Persephone Means

The Hunts perform for Iola and Moran students.

Persephone Means, Editor

You may have heard of The Hunts, who are playing tomorrow night, Saturday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center. Brought to Iola by the Sleeper Family Trust, The Hunts were able to play a short set today for the Iola middle and high schools and other surrounding area schools. Before The Hunts took the stage, Bowlus Director Susan Raines addressed the student audience. “I would call The Hunts an up and coming band, though they have been around forever,” Raines said. “We all started out playing the violin, and our dad loved playing classic rock for us. That music inspired us to pick up instruments like the guitar, drums, keys, and bass,” said Jenni. “We have been traveling for nine to ten years.”

Based in Chesapeake, Virginia, the seven-member sibling band “had never planned on being a band.” Eldest boy Josh said, “But our parents are musicians. We just picked up instruments that caught our attention and we write music and just enjoy our time together.” Jessi continued on that thought, saying, “Our mom is a violinist and our dad learned how to play instruments by ear. They married and played together at restaurants and other events and when one of us would come along, we would get added when we were old enough. I think a lot of people liked us because of the cute factor, but we were able to play anything. We play classic, Celtic, bluegrass, patriotic songs, and more, but we have evolved into making our own music. We started small in our own community, playing at farmer’s markets and festivals, and we ended up going on our first three-month, nationwide tour in 2007.”

The Hunts belt their message on stage.
Persephone Means
The Hunts belt their message on stage.

Between songs, The Hunts had a question and answer section for the students who were curious. One of the questions asked was, “How do you guys do school?” Jenni responded with, “We traveled a lot when we were in middle and high school, so we decided to homeschool. We would get our work ahead of time and would work really hard to keep ahead. Some of the younger siblings, like Jamison and Justin, do a lot of online college now.” Another student asked, “What inspired you to be a band?” Jenni continued, “All of us just loved music: listening, making, and writing. We really inspire each other to write.” The last question they had time for was, “How did you guys get so many instruments?” Jenni furthered explained, “We have been collecting as we travel. In fact, Jamison is playing a beautiful 1912 Gibson mandolin that we found in a music shop. We walked in and saw it and fell in love. We, as a group, decided to put our funds into it.”

After the show, the team of siblings spoke about more personal things. “[We chose this style of music] because we grew up on acoustic instruments. We like that acoustic, living-room-setting kind of style because it the best was to be able to tell our stories and experiences. Really it just felt natural… it felt like The Hunts,” said Jenni. The Hunts have been able to grow their band on social media, and starting from local gigs and moving to nationwide tours, they were found by producer Mark Carmen and were later signed on to the Cherrytree Records/Interscope.

“I have noticed that a lot of our songs have parallels to so many different things. The songs work well with telling stories about friends, family, and future relationships,” said Josh. Jenni added, saying, “I really think our songs can translate to a lot of different people. I think you can find a lot of hope in our music. A lot of our songs talk about being young and learning from your experiences, and being able to grow into adulthood – as a family, as individuals, as brothers and sisters, just growing from young to now.”

The siblings looked at each other for a moment and Jenni continued, “I think our favorite song would have to be Valentina. We wrote that song after we went to Haiti and taught a music camp, and a little girl named Valentina really impacted us. Valentina had a hard, bitter story, starting with the earthquake, to being separated from her family to having heart surgery. But every day we saw her, she was always beaming with joy, and that just really taught us a lesson.”

If you are interested in seeing them tomorrow, the tickets are $18 for the orchestra and $15 for the balcony seats. The student tickets are half-price. They sell hats, CDs, and other merchandise. Even if you don’t attend the show, you can pick up merchandise and support the band between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.

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