Noah Hunt and Mato Nanji have been swirling around each other on the Rock circuit for a long time. In the late ’90s, Blues Rock quartet Indigenous came onto the scene. Nanji, the founding guitarist and lead singer of the band formed on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, was touted as a six-string virtuoso, earning comparisons to heavyweights like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix. Although the band was originally made up of family members, Nanji took on the Indigenous banner in the mid-’00s and, with a rotating cast of musicians, has built a long and successful career. Indigenous’ albums (including the most recent, Time is Coming) have consistently earned critical acclaim and high entries on the Blues charts.
Hunt grew up in Cincinnati, where he took piano lessons at the Baldwin factory as a 4-year-old and later fronted popular local band Uncle Six. The singer had attracted some major-label attention, but his career took a different turn in 1997. Cincinnati-based music photographer W. A. Williams introduced the singer to young guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd, who had just started making big waves in the Blues Rock world. With the release Shepherd’s second album, 1998’s Trouble Is, Hunt had become the permanent lead singer of the guitarist’s band.
Hunt and Nanji first met in the late ’90s on the B.B. King Blues Festival tour. After playing together over the years on the Experience Hendrix tours, which feature an all-star cast celebrating the legendary guitarist’s music, the two musicians decided to work on a project together. In 2016, the duo will release its first album, featuring new music that’s described as a mix of Blues, Americana and Rock. Hunt and Nanji are kicking their collaboration into gear in front of live audiences with a select seven-city tour, featuring a stop this week at the Taft Theatre.
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