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Interview: Phoebe Hunt

Phoebe Hunt of Phoebe Hunt and The Gatherers is a singer/violinist/songwriter with a big heart and a great voice that makes music with a message and that inspires. I caught up with her at this year’s Bourbon and Beyond festival in Louisville.  

Aaron Paschal: What are your thoughts on being a part of Bourbon and Beyond?

Phoebe Hunt: I love that they have such a mix of different artists, like the Bluegrass Stage for alternative bluegrass music or people that are just starting to make a name for themselves. A lot of festivals don't do that.

AP: Of all of the artists performing at this year’s Bourbon and Beyond is there anyone that you’re excited to see or meet?

PH: (laughs) To be honest I’m excited about John Mayer being here. It’s kind of embarrassing but I’ve been a fan of his since I was a teenager so I’m excited about seeing him.

AP: I read somewhere that music is really magical and spiritual to you; can you tell us a little bit about that?

PH: I believe that music comes from a place in your soul and if you allow yourself to access it then your meaning can be beyond what other people are singing about and you can really send a message out to the world, so I try to tap into that magic/spirituality with my music.

AP: Your song “Marching On” was released the Friday after the March For Our Lives; do you think that music can help people through tough times or help inspire “change?”

PH: Music can spark change. I think sometimes artists forget that songs can have an impact in that way. I think that right now is an important time for us to be writing songs that have a message of social change and for us to do, and get behind what we believe in. It’s important that we speak our truths unabashedly.

AP: What are people that haven’t experienced or listened to Phoebe Hunt and the Gatherers missing out on?

PH: People that haven't seen us would catch the love that we all share for one another as musicians and that is going to transcend, and they're going to feel really good. One of the things is the particular collaboration of musicians that we’ve started working with. When you work with musicians at a level like this you all start to get on the same page with each other and you just start to flow and that’s the beautiful thing about our group. There’s this really special synergy that we are starting to build with each other. It feels like were just at the tip of the iceberg of what we can accomplish together and it’s an exciting time for us right now.

AP: If you had to choose one song from your catalog to introduce people to your music which song would it be?

PH: Pink and Blue is such a beautiful song that everybody should hear!

AP: You are a songwriter as well. Will you walk us through that process?

PH: I write as the songs come to me and I try to take influences from all around the world. Since I’m a fiddle player I get to learn styles of music from all around the world and I’m really interested in learning different styles of music and that somehow feeds itself into my songwriting. 

AP: What’s it like to have your husband as part of the band?

PH: My husband Dominick Leslie is the mandolin player in our band. We began our relationship as touring musicians in different bands so we spent most of our first years dating in away from each other. Now we are in the same band and even when we do play on projects with different artists separately we still get to be together way more often and it’s really incredible. Makes road life like being at home with my family… “I have my husband with me and that’s great!”

AP: With traditional record sales declining it’s harder for artists to sustain and make a comfortable living. Tell us about your Patreon program and how that’s been received.

PH: The Patreon program is a way for fans to become monthly supporters of our music. The industry has changed so much where you can listen to music for free that it’s changed the dynamic of the way that musicians get paid for their music so I’m inviting people that are fans of our music to subscribe so we can continue making it. So far everyone that has subscribed has given us really good feedback that they love being a part of it and so it’s really been building beautifully. I hope that the people that are out there and are fans of our music will consider being Patreons. They can find that information on my website: phoebehuntmusic.com and then clicking on the Gather page and signing up to be a Gatherer. Those Gatherers are the ones that are allowing us to stay on the road and and to continue to write and record music. 

AP: I know you guys have been out on the road quite a bit lately, what’s been your favorite venue to play so far?

PH: there’s a tiny little venue in Galway, NY called The Cock ‘n Bull that we all love playing in because the owner there just treats all the different artists that come there like family and it’s a really special place for us to go.

AP: What’s next for you?

PH: I’m recording the last song for our new album that’s coming out next year. If there’s anyone else out there that would love to help us put out a new album we’d love to speak to you.

AP: What are your impressions of Bourbon and Beyond?

PH: I think it’s great and shows how music really can bring people together. Even with all of the rain and messy conditions of the park people are in great spirits. It’s a diverse group of people here and I think that’s wonderful.

And like I said earlier I love the different mix of artists but I do wish that they would do things a little bit different with the Bluegrass Stage. When I was performing my set I couldn’t hear myself over the music from the main stage. I don’t know what they can do about that, “maybe that means moving the bluegrass stage to the opposite end of the park?”

AP: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

PH: I really appreciate you and CincyMusic being on it and caring so much about the artists that come your way. I can’t thank you enough for having us!