NPR logo A 'Junk Orchestra' Gets Grandiose and Romantic

A 'Junk Orchestra' Gets Grandiose and Romantic


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Peter and the Wolf's Red Hunter leads an unconventional "junk orchestra." hide caption

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Friday's Pick

  • Song: "Silent Movies"
  • Artist: Peter and the Wolf
  • CD: Lightness
  • Genre: Indie-Folk

Red Hunter, who goes by the name Peter and the Wolf, has never been content to take a conventional approach to music. Hunter made his live reputation by recruiting friends — musicians and non-musicians alike — to serve as his regularly rotating backup band. His self-styled "junk orchestra" chimes in with a chorus of rowdy voices, along with tin cans, glass bottles and whatever debris happens to be at hand.

Known for his unusual word-of-mouth shows, Hunter has performed in graveyards, abandoned buses and, most unusually, an island only accessible by canoe. With an emphasis on the weird, unusual and forgotten, his musical ambitions are equally grandiose and romantic, breathing life into sounds of the past. The most striking piece on his new Lightness, "Silent Movies," is an old-fashioned, swooning love song, wherein Hunter croons, "I've been dreaming of a girl I knew / Lived up on Seventh Avenue / I wonder if she's been dreaming about me, too."

Lightness sounds like an instant classic — the audio equivalent of faded photographs, rumbling midnight trains and highway signs flashing by. Thanks in large part to the sly, mysterious troubadour at the band's core, Lightness (and "Silent Movies" in particular) cements Hunter's reputation as a creative dreamer and master storyteller.

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