Ian Hunter is 73 years old, but came around at just the right time for me.
I'd been exploring his back catalog including the Mott stuff for a few months and had come to the general conclusion this was an artist who'd never gotten his proper due when a new album unexpectedly dropped in front of me this past fall. WHEN I'M PRESIDENT like much of his best stuff was wry and fun and had a real edge to it as well, both musically (it rocks) and lyrically (where it addresses American history of the recent and distant past). I especially liked the subtly angry title track and the slow-burning Ta Shunka Witco, a I'm-gonna-kick-your-ass song from the perspective of Crazy Horse ("You're gonna wish/You'd never been born/When you get to Little Bighorn").
Sunday at the City Winery, Hunter was helped along by a crack band and gave what I thought was a lively mix of the old and new. His voice, distinct but never a classic to begin with, has gone gruffer and scratchy with age. I felt he sang better while seated at the piano than when standing with an acoustic guitar, and his youngest son Jesse (looked in his late 20s?) came out to sing a few with him. His set included the classics you'd expect like "All the Way from Memphis" "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" and "Young Dudes" but he also mixed in "All-American Alien Boy" and "Now is the Time" which he dedicated to "the stupidest man in America," the NRA's Wayne LaPierre. My fantasy set would have included "Central Park n' West" and "Life After Death," but you buy your ticket and take your chances.
Was our first night at the Winery which is a civilized place to watch a show if kind of expensive. We sat opposite a couple of dog trainers from Alaska who were in town for the Westminster Dog Show and reminded me how great a city we live in.