By Veronika Kallus
‘Sometimes you just have to do it, don’t you?’… Yes, sometimes you do. Leave work, stressed. Cross, or try to cross, some Fringe-busy streets, the High Street actually. Thank heavens it’s not raining. Still, you’re getting even more stressed. You walk along through the crowds. Then you see the sign, the door, and you do it. Buy a ticket, walk down a few steps… Into warmth, a dark, red-lit, crowded room. The guy on stage’s already playing, taking you to another world, another time. Fight your way to the bar, a cool gin and tonic at four o’clock on a weekday afternoon, you sit on the floor in a dark corner, the room is so full of people already. All that’s missing is smoke in the air. A cool sip, you lean back, close your eyes for a moment. And then you start letting the blues slide under your skin.
John Hunt is telling a story. About his Uncle Jack, and how he got married in his mid-seventies. Havin’ been with that ‘girl’ for over thirty years – ‘that’s real bravery’. The next song is dedicated to them, and how their secret ceremony had to be repeated for the family to join. It feels like everyone in the audience knows them, knows the whole story and just how funny it was.
He keeps telling stories. About himself, about music, about musicians, about music certain musicians didn’t write. About Willie Dixon and Frank Sinatra, about the British Big Band, and about James Bond. About the days gone by, and about right now. His songs finish the stories for him, illustrate them. There are some funky covers, of ‘I got you under my skin’ and of ‘Let’s face the music and dance’, and in their chairs the audience swings through an hour of pure atmosphere with a sliding blues guitar and a dark, rusty, cinnamon voice in their ears and cool glasses in their hands.
It’s hard to face the cold daylight and wrestling crowds on the streets again after an experience like that.