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Ken Hunt

Ken Hunt

Ken Hunt is a freelance music critic, obituarist (The Guardian, The Independent, The Scotsman, Sydney Morning Herald and The Times) and "occasional lyricist". He is also contributor to numerous music reference works ranging from The Rough Guide to World Music (Europe, Asia & Pacific) (2009) to The Album – A Guide to Pop Music's Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations (2012). Increasingly since the world music boom in the late 1980s, he has believed – on account of only having one brain – in specialising.

He writes and broadcasts about certain North American and certain European folk music traditions and revivals, contemporary western and non-western classical music, and tradition-based and improvised music including jazz and rock. And of course the folk, popular, art and devotional musics of the South Asian subcontinent. Eight of his nine chapters in The Rough Guide to World Music are about Bangladesh and India. Ravi Shankar called his intuition about the subcontinent's music “unique” in his experience.

The son of a swing jazz and dance band saxophonist and clarinettist, he chose to write about music rather than play it. The Czech violin-voice virtuoso Iva Bittová paid him one of the ultimate musician compliments telling him he didn't think like a music journalist but like a musician.

His first published writings appeared in 1967-68. Riled and inspired by the standards of music journalism in Britain and Germany, having returned to Britain after working in the print for magazine giant Gruner & Jahr, he resumed writing in 1975 for the second wave of post-Zigzag music publications including Dark Star, Old Time Music and Omaha Rainbow. Between 1979 and 1989 he was the editor-publisher of Swing 51, hailed for its in-depth articles and interviews on subjects ranging from the Folk Revival to the Grateful Dead and beyond.

He is an essayist and consultant for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography's Millennium edition and Supplements (2000-2015).

He was instrumental in suggesting, bringing the parties together and, with David Harrington, cherry-picking compositions from Bollywood and Bengali film composer R.D. Burman's extensive oeuvre for Asha Bhosle and the Kronos Quartet's Grammy-nominated You've Stolen My Heart (2006).

As a lyricist, his main writing partner is one of our age's foremost total musicians, Iva Bittová, for whom he supplies words in English (and sometimes Czech).

Specialise and don't put your eggs in one currency basket is his maxim for freelance longevity.

21 articles

By Artist | By Date

List of articles in the library by artist

Terry Allen: Lubbock (On Everything) (Special Delivery SPT 1007/8)

Review by Ken Hunt, Folk Roots, April 1988

OVER THE LAST month or so, each time you turned on the TV, opened the paper or virtually any magazine that runs to book reviews, ...

David Bowie, The Rolling Stones: Guy Peellaert, 1934-2008

Obituary by Ken Hunt, The Guardian, 29 January 2009

Belgian artist most famous for his rock dreamscapes ...

Shirley Collins: False True Lovers (Fledg’ling)

Review by Ken Hunt, The Wire, August 2001

FALSE TRUE LOVERS captures a vital contributor to the English folksong revival at a key stage in her development. ...

Bob Dylan, Roger McGuinn: Jacques Levy, 1935-2004

Obituary by Ken Hunt, The Guardian, 26 November 2004

IN 1969, JACQUES Levy, who has died of cancer aged 69, became director of the erotic revue Oh! Calcutta!, off-Broadway. It was that show which ...

Béla Fleck: Natural Bridge (Rounder 0146)

Review by Ken Hunt, Folk International, September 1982

'Punchdrunk'/'Flexibility' / 'Dawg's Due' / 'Daybreak' / 'Bitter Gap' / 'October Winds' / 'Crossfire' / 'Apple-butter' / 'Old Hickory Waltz' / 'Rocky Road' / 'The ...

Grateful Dead, Jefferson Starship, Robert Hunter: "Sometimes The Cards Ain't Worth A Dime... If You Don't Lay 'Em Down": The Robert Hunter Interview #2

Interview by Ken Hunt, Dark Star, August 1980

Dark Star: David Grisman and Vassar Clements were beefing on once about the fact that they never got any money from Old And In The ...

Grateful Dead: Dick's Picks Vol. 21 and Vol. 22 & View from the Vault II

Review by Ken Hunt, The Wire, August 2001

THE TWO latest Dick's Picks documents present live Grateful Dead shows from February 1968 (Vol. 22) and November 85 (Vol. 21), while the second in the ...

Grateful Dead, Robert Hunter, Jefferson Starship: "Sometimes The Cards Ain't Worth A Dime... If You Don't Lay 'Em Down": The Robert Hunter Interview #3

Interview by Ken Hunt, Dark Star, December 1980

HOW DID you come to get involved with Roadhog? As far as I can tell, they were an existing band. ...

Grateful Dead, Robert Hunter: "Sometimes The Cards Ain't Worth A Dime... If You Don't Lay 'Em Down": The Robert Hunter Interview

Interview by Ken Hunt, Dark Star, April 1980

IN NOVEMBER, 1979, someone dear to the hearts of Dark Star's staff and readers crossed the briny deep to play a couple of largely under-publicised ...

Happy Traum: An Interview With Happy Traum

Interview by Ken Hunt, Folk Scene, May 1981

LIKE MANY of his contemporaries, Happy Traum came out of the folk revival on the East Coast in the '60s and although his activities have ...

Dorris Henderson, 1935-2005

Obituary by Ken Hunt, The Guardian, 12 May 2005

THE BRITISH FOLK scene has been characterised as insular, but African-American Dorris Henderson, who has died aged 70, disproved that. When she arrived in London ...

Zakir Hussain: Thunder On The Mountain

Profile and Interview by Ken Hunt, Folk Roots, February 1987

ZAKIR HUSSAIN is a musician who straddles the East-West divide. Like his father, Ustad Alla Rakha Khan, his instrument is the tabla and like his ...

Johnny Jenkins, Otis Redding: Johnny Jenkins, 1939-2006

Obituary by Ken Hunt, The Guardian, 16 September 2006

Flamboyant musician who influenced Hendrix and Otis Redding ...

John Hiatt

Interview by Ken Hunt, Omaha Rainbow, Spring 1988

What's your date and place of birth? August 20th 1952, Indianapolis, Indiana. I'm a Hoosier. ...

Vilayat Khan 1928–2004

Obituary by Ken Hunt, The Guardian, 25 March 2004

One of the greatest sitar players of his age ...

Nanci Griffith: The Acoustic Room, The Mean Fiddler, Harlesden

Live Review by Ken Hunt, Folk Roots, April 1988

THE WORD 'CHANTEUSE' seems to be undergoing one of its periodic journalistic revivals. It's a slightly unusual word, it's French and it was always far ...

Paul Brady: Making Tracks For A Rock Station

Interview by Ken Hunt, Folk Scene, November 1982

(ED. NOTE: The interview upon which some of the following article was based is an edited version of one conducted for, but as yet unpublished ...

The Plastic People Of The Universe: Egon Bondy, 1930-2007

Obituary by Ken Hunt, The Guardian, 20 April 2007

Dissident Czech writer and lyricist for Plastic People of the Universe ...

Happy Traum: A Homespun Tale

Interview by Ken Hunt, Dark Star, April 1980

HAPPY TRAUM was briefly in England in November '79 and, by luck, an interview was arranged. ...

List of genre pieces

Elmer Valentine, 1923-2008

Obituary by Ken Hunt, The Guardian, 27 March 2008

Co-owner of L.A.'s Whisky a Go Go venue ...

Various Artists: A Mighty Wind

Review by Ken Hunt, Record Collector, March 2004

THE QUANTITY OF hot air expended in the wake of A Mighty Wind, Christopher Guest's spoof of the US folk scare and its fall-out, has ...

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