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Charlie Hunter @ Yoshi's

Q&A-Charlie Hunter returns to Yoshi's with trio

Charlie Hunter never has to worry about his bass player getting out of pocket or his guitar player hogging all of the limelight. He handles both responsibilities simultaneously with an eight-string hybrid guitar.

The Berkeley-raised musician, who moved to the East Coast nine years ago, returns to the Bay Area for a six-night stand at Yoshi’s with sax man John Ellis and drummer Derrick Phillips as the Charlie Hunter Trio. The holiday homecoming for Hunter, who played bass with Michael Franti’s seminal hip hop group Disposable Heroes of Hypocrisy before switching to jazz, kicks off Dec. 13.

Hunter spoke with SFstation during a phone interview from the road.

SF Station (SFS): What are some of the essential things you like to do when you are back in the Bay Area?

Hunter: I try to visit friends that still live there. Most of the time I’m so busy working, I don’t get much time to do things. I like to go out to the places I like to eat and try to hang out if I can, but I don’t get too many chances.

SFS: You’re doing a six-night stand at Yoshi’s, do you get to do long runs at venues often?

Hunter: Most of the time I do one-nighters or festivals and sometimes I’ll do two or three nights, but Yoshi’s is just one of those things where everything comes together. It’s a great thing because it’s Christmas and I think a lot of people who used to see me in the Bay Area are back home visiting.

People like to go out and do things around Christmas time and it just ends up being kind of a happy meeting of events. It’s nice to not have to travel every day and to be in the Bay Area during winter.

SFS: Do your performances change when you have several nights at one venue, opposed to performing at one-nighters?

Hunter: Not really, every night it’s going to be different. Every night there’s millions of different whys it could be different. As long as you don’t hit the stage with a pre-conceived notion everything will be fine.

SFS: What was your first big gig in the Bay Area?

Hunter: I was 15-years old and I had a group called the Grease Monkeys. We played kind of rootsy/blues/rockabilly music. We played at the Keystone Berkeley, which has been gone for many years. It must have been 1982.

SFS: Was that your first band?

Hunter: I played in garage bands and stuff like that, but that was the first gig I played in front of people.

SFS: You are playing with your trio with John Ellis (saxophone) and Derrick Phillips (drums), who where also member of your quintet, how has your relationship with those musicians change?

Hunter: There’s a lot more space for everybody within a trio setting and we’re just a lot older (yawn) and more tired (laughs).

SFS: Has this tour been pretty tiring?

Hunter: No. It’s just been a couple of days, but I’ve basically been on the road all year without many breaks. It just feels like I’ve been on the road forever. I pretty much have been on the road forever.


The Charlie Hunter Trio plays Yoshi's 12/13 -12/18
featuring John Ellis & Derrek Phillips

Tue, Wed 8pm Shows $18, 10:00pm Shows $10
Thu 8:00pm & 10:00pm Shows $18
Fri, Sat Shows at 8:00pm & 10:00pm $22
Sun 2:00pm Matinee, $5 Kids, $15 Adult W/One Kid, $18 General
Sun 8:00 $22