You can get a great education at Keene State—in the classroom and in places outside the classroom. Like in basements. At least, that was Dan Hunt ’00’s experience. He came to KSC in ’96, planning to study music performance. But then he took a computer mapping class and decided to switch to a degree in Geography, figuring that map making might be a more lucrative career than music.
But his love for music never wavered, and he fell in with a band called Brown Factory, playing drums and “spending several weekend nights sweating in the basement of 80 Roxbury (among other places),” he recalled. “Those guys were incredible and really helped form the player I am today. We would play marathon shows that would end up being heralded as the greatest party ever thrown or the biggest disaster you ever saw. Either way, I learned so much about groove, dynamics, and stamina on the drums. Things I wouldn’t have necessarily learned with a Music degree.”
When he graduated in 2000 with a BA in geography, he headed to Portland, Maine, and found work as a Geographic Information Systems Specialist for an environmental engineering firm there. And he continued to play drums nearly every night.
He moved around the country some, working for engineering firms and city planners making maps, eventually settling in Portland, Oregon. “I loved the work and it kept me from starving,” Dan explained. “But I always saw music as my number one career. I played nearly every chance I got and never turned down a gig, no matter what it was.” Everywhere he lived, he played and toured with various bands, including Arthur and Yu, Broken Social Scene, Iron and Wine, and Album Leaf. He found out through his local drum shop that Neko Case needed a drummer. “I threw my name in a hat, auditioned, and got the gig!”
“Since then, I’ve been playing full time with Neko, so no more maps. My first show was in Barcelona in front of 5,000 people, and its been a whirlwind ever since. We’re currently touring on her new album The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. I’ll be out over the next year and a half touring all of the States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.”
Does he ever look back? You bet: “Chris Cusack, Jo Beth Mullens, and Elaine Hartwick were among my most inspirational professors at KSC,” Dan remembered. “In the Music Department, I still have fond memories of Don Baldini and Ted Mann. I miss all those folks!”
Here’s Dan and the Neko Case gang playing a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR at Halloween (in costume, of course):
And here’s Dan, soloing at the Portland Drum Fair: