Sonya Hunter 

Neo-folkie has roots in mind.

On Sonya Hunter's latest release -- recorded after the singer-songwriter moved back to San Francisco from New York -- there are at least two tracks concerned with the mundane details of residence and regular existence. "Bells and Whistles" is a sunny, galloping example of Hunter's gift for folk-jazz-indie synthesis, with lyrics detailing the glorious, grounding smells, sounds, and sights of a home, attended by a fluttering of bright saxophone and faint, old-fashioned background vocals. But on "Roots," those regular things are derided. "Smell of ocean air/grown so familiar," she sings in her eerily Kristin Hershlike tones. "Sliding glass door warms/a spot on the floor/Apartment halls/shared walls/meals on your own/You take what you can/and you call it your home."

"I wrote 'Roots' before I left," Hunter admits. "Now I don't really mind those roots, I realized. ... I really loved New York, and it was really vital, and musically really stimulating. But ultimately, I couldn't be surrounded by that much concrete."

Most of the songs on Sun in Mind, released late last year on Innerstate, were written while Hunter was living in Brooklyn. Upon returning to the Bay Area, she put down her guitar and took up, of all things, database programming. "But then I realized that I really wanted to record the songs I'd written in a couple of years, get them while they were still -- you know, before they were old chestnuts, in my own inner world."

Though Hunter has been getting most of her performance ya-yas out with the six-piece Magic City Chamber of Commerce, she'll be making a local appearance this Friday, accompanied by stand-up bassist Erik Pearson, and Noah Hoffeld, the New York cellist who appears on Sun in Mind. "It's been fun doing something that's not all about me," she says of Magic City. "But occasionally I like to do my own thing as well."

Hunter performs with Diana Darby at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave., Berkeley. Music starts between 8:30 and 9 p.m. Admission costs $7-$10 suggested donation (no one turned away for lack of funds). For further details, call 510-644-2204 or visit


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