Eva Hunter got her first taste of the stage as a singing sibling in the Hunter Sisters when she was in her early teens. The native of Athens, Ill., has worked as a solo act for several years now, producing four original CDs in the last five years.
Hunter’s road has not been paved with gold or any other precious metal; rather, the time-tested virtues of tenacity and perseverance, along with a dose of luck, have kept Hunter’s career on a path of steady success.
Fancy Prairie (2000), a buoyant collection of Hunter originals and songs penned by friends, was Hunter’s debut recording. Hunter hit the Midwest coffeehouse circuit, making fans with her energetic live solo performances and keeping them through her Web-site-generated e-mail list. As the fanbase grew and her talent developed, Hunter added more players to the mix, and they evolved into the Eva Hunter Band. Musicians have come and gone, more because of scheduling conflicts than because of musical differences, but Edwin Pierce on guitar, Clay Thompson on bass, and Jun Mikami on violin have remained as a core. With the recent addition of veteran Springfield drummer Donnie Dobbins, the lineup is complete.
After the release of Fancy Prairie (named for a small town and farming community north of Athens) Hunter immediately began working on another studio effort with longtime collaborator Ric Major of Middle Option Music. In the interim they released two live discs, ButcherTown and A Crazy Moon Ride, allowing fans to hear Hunter material without spoiling the surprise of the new production. Major moved his recording studio into a larger space in February 2004, and the two began tweaking the fresh batch of songs. After recording basic tracks with Hunter’s steady band, they painstakingly added layers of intriguing sounds by tapping into the pool of local players. The result is Thirsty, a sweeping musical panorama of taste and beauty that blends jazz, folk, rock, and country into a seamless collection of poignant songs, a perfect vehicle with which to drive home the sultry urgency of Hunter’s emotive voice.
The CD, released in fall of 2004 on Major’s Middle Option Music, is available at Hunter’s Web site (www.evahunter.com) and at performances.
Eva Hunter opens for Roger McGuinn at the Hoogland Center for the Arts at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 2. After the solo performance, the Eva Hunter Band convenes at Norb Andy’s (518 Capitol Ave., 217-523-7777) for an 11 p.m.-2 a.m. afterconcert show.