MAKING MUSIC under the name Peter and the Wolf, Austin's Red Hunter plays rickety, intense, gothic folk backed by an orchestra of kids on scrap-metal percussion. It's haunted and weird, and not the kind of music big media generally latches onto. Still, Red was recently thrust into the mainstream limelight after the plans for his upcoming tour were announced. Instead of the traditional van or bus tour, Red and friends (Jana Hunter, no relation, and Ray Raposa of Castanets) are taking a 28-foot 1978 Southern Cross cutter rig down the East Coast's Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, traveling a 1,200-mile stretch of canals, dams, and locks that run just inland of the Eastern Seaboard. The plan is to sail by day, dock in the evenings, and walk or taxi to nearby bars, where they'll play solo sets. (All of this will be filmed for a documentary released by Asthmatic Kitty, Castanets' record label.)
As soon as it became official, outlets like MTV, ABC News, and Newsweek were all over it, writing up the trip for its green-friendliness, talking big about smashing the tour band paradigm, and about fossil fuel conservation and alternative transportation.
The tour begins August 19 and goes until September 5. Between those dates, a good many of the shows are still unbooked. It's just one of those things; heavy on adventure, light on the constraining rules that cramp its spirit and style. This is a good way to go.
MERCURY: When I saw you guys in Austin it was you and a bunch of kids sitting along the edge of the stage, banging on things, tapping pieces of metal, playing without amps or mics. Talk about how you build a junk orchestra.
RED HUNTER: Ah yes, the divine orchestras of junk. In the beginning they happened at random, once for a show in Austin, then again when panhandling with friends in San Diego, and later at a show in Los Angeles. On this tour, they'll be very different in every town based on who's around that night, who enjoys waking up in the drunk tank, that sort of thing. I'm sure in most cities there'll be lots of clanking metal and tons of weirdoes, and then in others it'll just be me playing guitar and some 16-year-old kid with a pan.
What's up with this sailboat tour they're all talking about?
When I was a kid, my dad would go on six-month deployments with the Navy. He'd be gone so long we'd be strangers when he came back. We moved every year or so because of his job, too. As a result, the sea has completely affected my life. It's always in my dreams; it's in my blood. I've written lots of songs about returning to the sea, or running away to the sea, that sort of thing. I told Jana Hunter about touring by sailboat when it was just a daydream, and she actually went and found a way because she is that rad. It's going to be epic. Captain Dan (Daeta, AKA WFMU radio jock OCDJ) will take the helm, an escaped convict whose fingertips were sanded long ago to leave no prints. Castanets can read the stars like no other, and always knows which songs appease which gods. Jana Hunter will grace the ship's prow as our stone figurehead. And I will watch the sea. Always watching the sea. The white whale tasks me; yet he is but a mask.