I first met Walt and Teresa Huntsman when we were hosting a showcase of local talent at Powderhaus Brewing in Garden City. They are a very talented couple. I think that one of the things I found most unique about them was that Teresa was playing guitar and Walt was singing. You don’t see that often, if ever, usually it’s the other way around. The guy plays guitar and the girl sings. You can catch their act at Memorial Park during The Weiser Fiddle Festival on Saturday, June 22, from noon-1 pm. All the events are free for this week long festival.
Walt Huntsman is originally from Seattle and does the lead vocals, percussion, and harmonica. Teresa is from the deep-south and plays acoustic guitar and does backing vocals. They serve up an acoustic stew of folk-pop, seasoned with a dollop of blues, and a dash of country. Their original songs are crafted from everyday events, stories inspired by the past, and observations about life and love.
If it crosses Walt’s mind, there’s a good chance it will end up coming out of Teresa’s guitar. This year they have taken the band name “Seattle Goes South.” They cover tunes from artists who inspire them such as James Taylor, Tom Petty, John Prine, and many others.
“Music was pretty much the one constant in my life growing up. After I was born in Seattle, the family moved to Portland, Oregon for a short stay, then on to Los Angeles. After my parents divorced, my mother remarried, and we moved to Rosamond, California, a small city west of Edwards Air Force Base. When I was 12, my mother, my sister, and I moved back north to Seattle.”
“During this time, I gravitated to classic singers such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, and Sarah Vaughan. I also had a real affinity for big bands, like Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich, and Duke Ellington. In fourth grade, I began my first forays into music, taking up the alto saxophone, an instrument I played until I finished high school.”
“My musical tastes are somewhat eclectic. My record collection of over 500 albums and later several hundred CDs ranged from ABBA to ZZ Top. I listened to everything from Barry Manilow and John Denver to Jethro Tull, Robin Trower, and David Bowie. In more recent years, I have begun listening to more artists that aren’t as well known, such as John Gorka, Mary Black, and Luka Bloom. I’ve also developed a real affinity for the music of Leonard Cohen and John Prine,”
“After I graduated from high school in 1974, I began my first attempt at a college education. This is when I began writing really bad song lyrics. By now, I had also started listening to more contemporary artists. In 1978, I began a life-long love affair with the music of Elvis Costello. In 1978, I left college without a degree to seek fame and fortune in broadcasting, taking a radio announcer job in Raymond, Washington.”
“When the station was sold, I left and worked in retail for several years before landing a television job in Miles City, Montana, (once again) resuming my search for fame and fortune. Ten years later, after stops in South Dakota, Louisiana, returning to Montana and Louisiana, and on to Alabama, I ended my broadcasting career, having found neither fame nor fortune.”
“By this time, I had begun to take a more active role in music, joining one of the church choirs at a Catholic church in Madison, Alabama, where I met Teresa. Throughout this time, I had continued to write lyrics. In 1993, when Teresa and I were engaged to be married, we collaborated on the music for our wedding, which was a full wedding Mass. After marriage, I continued to write lyrics, although I still wasn’t doing anything with them. (I returned) to college and pursued the degree I had abandoned in 1978.”
“I stopped writing lyrics for several years and only wrote sporadically after we moved to Idaho in 2003. It was after attending a concert at Lucky Peak Park in September 2014 and learning about the Idaho Songwriters Association that I began writing again with an actual goal of one day sharing my songs with others. Up to this point, they seemed more like journal fodder.”
“With Teresa’s help that became a reality when we stepped on the stage of The Sapphire Room at the Riverside Hotel for the first time in February 2015. Since then, I’ve continued to write and have since begun learning how to chord and arrange some of my songs. Over the years, I have written lyrics for an estimated 1,500 songs. We currently have more than 100 original songs chorded and arranged that we can perform with more coming all the time. Now that I have some mileage under me, I feel I am writing the best songs of my life at this stage. I hope the people who give us a listen will agree”
Teresa grew up in the ’60s and ’70s in south Alabama listening to her sister’s Herman’s Hermits, Tommy James, and Gary Lewis & The Playboys mixed in with her brother’s Cream, Johnny Winters, Seals & Crofts, Three Dog Night, and Leo Kottke records. In 1972, Teresa discovered Chicago in the midst of their classic influential jazz-rock years and began her life-long love affair with their musical stylings.
Two years later, she started to play rhythm acoustic guitar at age 14 and played in the church choir through high school and college where she attended Auburn University and got a degree in industrial engineering. Over the years, she played with different guitarists and pianists, learning, growing, and progressing with every musician.
Her favorite past time as a teen was to record pop music off the radio onto a cassette player to try to figure out the words and chords so she could play the songs. This skill was to become a big part when, in 2014, Walt resumed his songwriting. Since he could not play the guitar, he had not learned yet how to use chords.
Walt would sing his song creations to Teresa, and she would figure out how to play them on guitar. Later, Walt took guitar lessons and over time increased his ability to chord his own music. Teresa continues to come up with chord progressions and rhythms that inspire some of his songs. Teresa still loves learning new songs after researching them on the internet and perfecting them, and Walt has become more prolific in his songwriting.
In 2015, they began to perform occasionally in the Boise area. Today they perform over 100 originals and nearly 300 songs by over 150 different artists. These songs range from tender love songs to pop and rock tunes. Please, check them out at The Weiser Fiddle Festival on Saturday, June 22.