On June 17, Augusta’s 2015 Waterfront Wednesday Concerts kicked off a nine-event series with a performance by the Nikki Hunt Band at Waterfront Park. The band is made up of Hunt on lead vocals and hooping (more on that later, I promise), Brian Smalley on guitar and vocals, Sonny True on bass and vocals, and Jeff Glidden on drums — when setting up an telephone interview with Hunt, she was kind enough to send me a couple of YouTube links to highlight her singing and hooping skills. I had no idea what the latter of the two was so that was the first one I checked out. I called her.

Q: I know now what hooping is.

Hunt: Oh, did you Google it?

Q: No, I used the links you sent — I checked out the one with you singing and then went to all the others that were there of you hooping. Now, about your show coming up in Augusta on the 17th: have you done that series before?

Hunt: I have done it before, but it was a couple of years ago and we ended up getting rained out, unfortunately — big storm came.

Q: Well, that’s the downside of an outside concert, I guess.


Hunt: Yeah, that’s right.

Q: Now, looking at the tag lines on those videos on YouTube, you and your band get out quite a bit to a lot of different venues.

Hunt: Yeah, the band started in August of 2009 and so this coming August will be six years that this band has been together, and we pretty much play every single weekend. We’ve done between 800 and 900 shows in almost six years.

Q: Do you ever dabble in original material or are you locked into covers only?

Hunt: Well, the band mostly just does covers, but in the past I’ve done a little bit of original writing myself and I’ve worked on albums with other people. And the bass player, Sonny True, and I are planning on doing an original album for me, hopefully starting this year. We’ve kind of had a hard time starting it because we have been so busy with shows that we had like no time. We were so exhausted, but it’s slowed down a little bit and we’re planning on writing original music.

Q: Now, just out of curiosity, are you a Maine native?


Hunt: Yes, I am. I was born in Augusta and I grew up in China, Maine, and I went to Erskine Academy for high school.

Q: Were you doing something before this band started?

Hunt: I’ve done a lot of musical theater, local theater, ever since I was a kid. I was part of the Drama Team at Erskine for three years, I did theater at China Middle School, and I did all kinds of stuff outside of school like the Waterville Opera House, Gaslight Theatre in Hallowell, and I’ve done some stuff out in Auburn. I’ve always been involved in something theatrical but I decided that I really wanted to focus on singing after I came back from school in New York.

Q: How long have you been hooping?

Hunt: Hooping for me started in 2006. It started as a hobby for the first couple of years, but I would teach myself tricks by watching women on line do it. I’m a self-taught hooper by watching tutorials online and then when the band started in 2009, we thought we should incorporate this with the band. I was really nervous about doing it at first and I started with it just around my waist and doing a few tricks, and then after about a year people started asking me to teach, so I’ve been doing that for five years now.

Q: Wow, so this has become a full-time gig for you.


Hunt: Yeah.

Q: It’s funny, because I’m 66 and I remember when the Hula Hoop came out. I had one, I must confess, but nowadays, as I saw in those videos, you have ones with lights inside … that’s really neat.

Hunt: The LEDs? It’s really become quite a craze all over again because it came out in the 50s, right?

Q: Yes, I believe you are correct.

Hunt: Then it went away for a while, but about 10 or 12 years ago it came back and it came in the circus arts and it came back in the electronic dance music scene. So, now it’s back with all these people known as “flow artists” and one of those flow artists is somebody who Hula Hoops. Now, there are these girls in clubs with LEDs and they’re like a glorified go-go dancer with a talent other than just dancing. Sometime I get hired to do things like that in night clubs. And, I mean, it’s crazy — 10 years ago if somebody came up to me and said, “Hey, you’re going to be dancing in a club with an LED hoop?” I’d be like, “What are you talking about?”

Q: Is there anything, Nikki, that you’d like to have passed on to the folks reading this “What’s Happening” article?

Hunt: Well, one thing we’re doing this summer that’s very fun is we are playing down at the Rocktide Inn Restaurant in Boothbay on Sundays in the afternoon from 1 to 4. This will be our third year doing it. It is such a good time. We really are grateful to have this gig. It’s crazy, it’s ‘way too much fun. I mean, there are just so many people out there on the dock, it’s nuts.’ Oh, I would also like to give credit to two guest guitarists we have from time to time, Jeffrey Farnsworth and Doug Morgan.

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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