When it comes to music and farming, it doesn’t appear that there is anything black and white about the Hunter Brothers.
The brothers — Luke, J.J., Ty Brock and Dusty — have their hands full working on the family farm in Shaunavon. But they are also keeping busy with a burgeoning music career that is picking up momentum.
So do the brothers consider themselves farmers who happen to play music or musicians who happen to farm?
“That’s a great question. I don’t know if any of us have been asked that. I guess my answer is that we have no idea,” said J.J. Hunter in a recent telephone interview to advance their appearance at Country Thunder Saskatchewan on Friday. “We’ve always done both. I’ve talked to my brothers at length about this and there’s never been a summer where we weren’t farming so that’s always been a part of our lives. And for as long as I can remember, music has been a part of our lives as well. The two have always gone hand in hand for us.
“Saying that, I guess the thought process is also, ‘Where do you make your living?’ and probably for the most part, up to now, that’s been the farm. The fun part about is as the music part has been gaining traction, it’s starting to become our business as well.”
Keeping a commitment to both farming and music definitely has its challenges. Perhaps the biggest is the fact that farmers are busiest in the summer months which conflicts with a touring schedule that takes the musicians to festivals throughout the Prairies.
Toss in the recent success from their debut album, Getaway, which was released in March 2017, and it’s not surprising more pressure is coming from the music side of the equation.
“There’s no secret that this has been one of the challenges we’ve worked through,” said Hunter. “When we first started with country music, the music has always been there, but it has taken on a different look in the last two and half years. And when we signed our record deal with Open Road Recordings and our management with RGK Entertainment, we knew that it was going to take some time to gain some traction.
“The music road is not an easy one and there can be well intentioned artists and for whatever reason, that break may not come. We’ve really felt in these last six months that the tide has started to change and turn. The music, all of a sudden, has started to take on a significant life of its own. We had talked about this at length internally with our family and also with our label that whenever that times comes and as long as the passion is still there, there’s going to have to be some adjustments on the farm.”
Five singles from Getaway have found airplay on Canadian country radio with the latest two singles — Born And Raised and Those Were The Nights — lifting their profile nationally. The band also captured two Saskatchewan Country Music Association awards in 2017 for group of the year and the emerging artist award.
They opened for High Valley earlier this year on dates for its Canadian tour and the brothers are getting ready for a busy festival season that includes stops at Country Thunder Saskatchewan, Country Thunder Calgary and the Havelock Jamboree.
Tuesday was also a big day for the band as it received three Canadian Country Music Association award nominations — group of the year, rising star and interactive artist/group of the year.
Hunter understands the importance of striking while the iron is hot and for the Hunter Brothers, that time is now.
“We learned that very quick — if there’s an opportunity, that window can be really small,” said Hunter. “We played hockey for a lot of years and it worked the same way. Some times when you’re trying to make a junior club or a pro club, the window of opportunity may be very narrow and in order to take advantage of it you better be prepared for the chance, if and when that chance comes. Music is the same way . . . We know if we don’t take this opportunity that we’ve been given, we may never get it again.”
• 5:15 p.m., July 13
• Country Thunder Saskatchewan
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