Beating to Hunt’s drum


He’s always had something a little rock ‘n’ roll about him has New Zealand’s favourite poet Sam Hunt.

Now, approaching 70, the Auckland storyteller has become not only a lyricist but a frontman too.

Hunt hunkered down with Dunedin group David Kilgour and the Heavy 8s at Chick’s Hotel in Port Chalmers for four days last year to put some of his own poems and those of his favourite poets to music.

The result is the album The 9th, which Hunt, Kilgour and the 8s bring to Queenstown’s The Sherwood hotel this Saturday.

“It was a bloody marvellous time recording at Chick’s, intense,” says Hunt.

“At Port, as they say… I love that. I was tempted to call the album ‘At Port’ but it’s a bit too regional.

“I mean I’m not trying to conquer the world but I want to make it through the Taiaroa Head there.”

The poet and band have collaborated before, with Hunt supplying verse for the 2009 album Falling Debris, sung by Kilgour.

But The 9th is more to the beat of Hunt’s drum.

“I’m showing the lead and they play off it – I don’t have to change too much.

“But I’m also in a wonderful way, like riding a wave, surrounded by this sound. I’m plugged into the sound so am taking the queue from them as well.

“I’m not ringing all the bells, far from it, but think David would agree it’s based on my rhythms.”

Of the 13 tracks on the album, nine are based on Hunt’s own poetry with four from others.

They include versions of James K. Baxter’s Gunner’s Lament and Jerusalem Blues, Yeats’ The Second Coming backed only by Kilgour on keyboards, and The Seventh by Attila Jozsef.

“He’s a wonderful Hungarian poet I love.”

Hunt will take to the stage first for a recital at 9pm before he’s joined by the others.

“If I’m still standing,” he laughs.

“That’s not exclusive to rock bands – I’ve had a few disasters over the years… don’t think they’ll ever have me back in Havelock North.

“So I’m mindful of that.”

Hunt says all performances are a high-wire act and this will be no different.

“Ask me afterwards what I think about it,” he says.

“You’re on the edge of a cliff, you’re always aware of it, if you’re not stupid – it’s dangerous, magical, you can see for miles.”

Sam Hunt, David Kilgour and the Heavy 8s perform Saturday at The Sherwood from 8.30pm. Tickets $32. R18.