Guitarist Charlie Hunter and vocalist Lucy Woodward are accomplished, entertaining musicians. Hunter, who plays seven- and eight-stringed instruments that can provide both bass and guitar parts, is a fluid, flexible player who has just as much of an ear for tasty funk grooves as he does delectable jazz-playing. And Woodward has a powerful, soulful voice that she’s used to perform backing vocals with a wide array of artists, from Rod Stewart to Joe Cocker to Chaka Khan, all while maintaining a solo career chock full of jazz and blues-oriented releases.
Together with drummer Derrek Phillips on their new album, “Music! Music! Music!,” Hunter and Woodward are a funky groove machine on a set of 11 tunes, throwing in surprisingly danceable versions of Lucinda Williams’ “Can’t Let Go,” the jazz standard “Angel Eyes,” and, of all things, the 1895 song “You’ve Been a Good Old Wagon,” one of the first ragtime songs.
So their trio performance at The Spinning Jenny in Greer will probably be a great evening of funky-jazz-soul music. But even if that weren’t the case, it might be worth seeing Hunter and Woodward just for their rapid-fire interplay. In conversation, the two can’t resist falling into a sort of straight-man-and-wisecracker back-and-forth when they talk about how they got together and the way they ended up making an album.
Our interview started off fairly straightforward, with Hunter describing how the two ended up collaborating in the first place. Woodward and Hunter knew of each other from their time on the New York music scene but had never worked together until early 2018.
“I had a tour scheduled with a woman named Silvana Estrada, a Mexican artist, and her visa was canceled at the last minute,” Hunter says. “And I had to find a singer to fill in all these dates. And through a mutual friend of ours I found out that Lucy was available for most of the dates.”
With little time to prepare before touring with Hunter, Woodward and the guitarist began building a repertoire of songs to play via text messages, and because they hadn’t collaborated before, the songs were all covers they were both familiar with.
When Woodward says that they were aware of each other because she and Hunter ran in the same musical circles, Hunter can’t help but interject.
“She has a really big circle and I have this tiny, tiny, black dot circle which doesn’t include any music that was made past 1974,” Hunter says.
Woodward then tries to get things back on track with a brief explanation: “He’s very foggy from all this driving we’re doing,” she says.
Road fatigue aside, the story continues. By the time they’d reached the end of the tour, Woodward and Hunter realized they had something special and maybe they should make an album. They went into the studio with their exact onstage repertoire in hand and recorded “Music! Music! Music!”
The songs are so different from their original versions that many of them sound like originals. It took me about half the song to realize that “Can’t Let Go” was the Lucinda Williams song, and when I mention this, Hunter spins an apt, if brutal, metaphor for covering other people’s songs.
“My goal for ANY kind of interpretation is that you have to take the song into a dark room with one light bulb and interrogate it until it’s almost dead,” he says. “And if it can survive that, it’s worth playing.”
After shaking off that, uh, VIVID description, I ask if Charlie and Lucy will be making another record together after this one.
“Whether it sells five copies or 500 or 5 million, we’ll make another record together,” Woodward says.
“If Lucy acts accordingly,” Hunter says.
“And if Charlie BEHAVES,” she shoots back.
And thus the interview was completed.
What: Charlie Hunter & Lucy Woodward
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 20
Where: The Spinning Jenny, 107 Cannon St., Greer
Tickets: $15 advance, $20 door
Info: 864-469-6416, https://www.thespinningjennygreer.com/