Songster revivalists Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons perform acoustic blues, field hollers, fiddle and banjo breakdowns and early jazz in concerts and workshops nationwide. For seven years, the Seattle-based duo’s tours have extended their work as teachers and community organizers. Their integration of performance, education and modern-day folklore redefines the role of a songster in the 21st century. Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons will perform at The Palms Playhouse on Friday, April 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 ($12 with student ID). Hunter & Seamons’ music hews to the rough-and-tumble collisions of musical inspirations from the early 20th century, much of which is the music that paved the way for different forms of roots music popular today. These two singers and multi-instrumentalists learned at the feet of the elders of the acoustic blues tradition. However, rather than thinking of them strictly as blues musicians, it’s best to categorize Hunter and Seamons as American songsters. Traditionally, songsters were musicians whose repertoire is much broader than the old blues, and spans many of the genres that Hunter and Seamons play. Uncle Dave Macon, Robert Johnson, and Charlie Patton are classic examples of songsters. Hunter & Seamons’ musical kinship and sense of joy in interpreting this music is evident and was the basis of an invitation from Dom Flemons (formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops) to tour and record for his album “Prospect Hill.” In January of 2016, the Washington Blues Society sent Hunter & Seamons to the 26th annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis. There, they were awarded first place—out of 94 solo or duo acts representing 16 countries—for their unique blend of a cappella field hollers, fiddle and banjo breakdowns, and duet distillations of early jazz. Hunter & Seamons’ albums and performances give life to voices long silenced in American culture. In addition to music, their performances include storytelling that, rather than bringing the past to life, vividly shows how the past still lives in the present. Hunter & Seamons bounce from fiddle & banjo breakdowns to a cappella field hollers, early jazz to gospel songs featuring Piedmont guitar style and rattlin’ bones. Through their songs, audiences witness current issues cropping up repeatedly in folk songs, dance tunes, acoustic blues and prison ballads. With the same versatility that won them the International Blues Challenge, and allowed them to record with National Heritage Fellow Phil Wiggins, the duo celebrates the ways Americans have triumphed over oppression through the vitality of their art. Audiences walk away from Hunter & Seamons’ concerts inspired to learn more of their own history and engage more deeply with their communities. Hunter & Seamons have released three albums, and started work on a fourth earlier late last year. According to No Depression, “Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons aren’t so much a throw-back to the music of the pre-war era songster tradition as they are alchemist-shamans, seemingly sent from those times to the 21st century to wake us up to the music that is embedded deep within us. It is our national heritage.” Tickets are available at Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters, Armadillo Music in Davis, Davids’ Broken Note in Woodland, online via The Palms’ website and Eventbrite, and at the door if not sold out. For more information, visit palmsplayhouse.com and benjoemusic.com.]]>
Songster revivalists Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons bring Americana roots to The Palms on Friday, April 19
Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons will perform at The Palms Playhouse on Friday, April 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 ($12 with student ID).