This self-taught rhythm and blues player has been contributing to the Minnesota music scene for 20 years.
Tom Hunter is a self-taught blues and jazz musician, who starts out his story with, “Well, I was born,” he says, laughing. After living in Minnesota for 20 years, as far as venues go, “I think I’ve played all of them,” Hunter says. He’s scheduled to play on the Wisconsin side of the river this month at Urban Olive and Vine in Hudson, one of his top regional favorites.
After Hunter got out of the Navy, he made his start on the music scene in New York. “I started working with blues bands, playing the piano” alongside musicians like Bill Perry, Murali Coryell and Little Sammy Davis, he says. Eventually making his way to Minnesota, a place that he had played often while on tours, he found his solo voice.
Starting out, Hunter jokes that a lot of his music was “heavy on the Italian restaurant’s greatest hits.” Catching him at Urban Olive and Vine, you can hear him play his own style of solo piano, which includes original songs, as well as jazz standards by Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin.
His original songs are mostly in the blues category. “What makes blues unique is it breaks a lot of the rules. It’s not what you would call technically correct,” Hunter says, though he plays all genres. According to Hunter, it’s also very easy to invite people to come visit him at this venue, saying that it hits all the areas for customers as far as food and wines go—and, of course, for guests that includes his music, too.