The Fiddle Maker – the story of Don Hunt
Don Hunt with one of his grandsons in the shop; Scott Hunt with his blue fiddle
While perusing social media, I came across a tribute to a fiddle maker, Don Hunt. I was intrigued by the story of a luthier who battled through injury and illness to maintain his craft, so I sent a message to Scott Hunt, Don’s son, who had written a song about his dad, and posted it on YouTube.
Scott refers to himself as a musical nerd, and while he resides in Florida, his roots have always been wrapped in true bluegrass. In 1982, somewhere in the middle of Missouri, Scott would have been seen on stage with Sundown, consisting of himself on fiddle, Steve Bode on banjo, Randy Kleindienst on guitar, Daniel Kleindienst on mandolin, and Eric Kleindienst on bass. He has worked as a musician ever since, playing bluegrass, country, and original acoustic music.
Scott’s father was a lifelong woodworker, and gained interest in the fiddle as his son was playing it. Never having luthier training, Don’s skill was completely self taught, something he handled with pride.
After Don’s passing, Scott reminisced on his social media page:
“Dad passed away in 2015 after a fall in the parking lot of his church. Kind of ironic after walking away from motorcycle accidents, car wrecks, plane crashes (yep), cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s, though in the end the cancer took its toll and he could barely speak above a whisper. While it definitely pissed him off, he never complained about any of the challenges.
On Mother’s Day weekend that year, dad, my brother Steve (“Fuzz”), my son, Andrew, my grandson (the “J” Dude), and I started a multi-generational project building a 5 string electric Mando; there are a handful of pictures of the mando in the video.
A lifelong woodworker and carver, dad learned to build fiddles while I was learning to play them. It was a unique team effort, since we both learned from each other. Dad supported and encouraged all of us kids to follow whatever path we chose. While he didn’t play an instrument, he always supported me musically…and in spite of having 5 kids, I never heard, ‘get a real job.’”
Seeing his father with diminished capacity prompted Scott to remember him in song. One day while Scott and Don were visiting about the making of a fiddle, Don made the comment that Parkinson’s was a hassle when it came to making his projects. Instantly, Scott had the first line. “That visual just stuck in my head. His hands are shaking as he winds the strings.”
“Dad built me a couple of fiddles and was on #3, which hung in his shop until just recently. There is a picture of the second one (blue, at my request) in the video, and you can hear it throughout the video.”
The Fiddler Maker was recorded in Edmond, OK at White Rose Studio. At the helm was Craig White. Producers were Scott Hunt, David Greene, and Gary Wert. Purposefully, Hunt stacked vocals and harmonies throughout the recording using 3 generations of family talent: Joey Panozzo, Brittney Hunt-Jassey, AJ Hunt, Shane Elizabeth McKinley, Sara Hunt, Andrew Hunt, and David Greene.
It took quite a while to create the project, but Don finally heard his son’s creation, with the blue fiddle, and his family harmony on Christmas Eve 2014.
Recently, Scott took the recording of The Fiddle Maker and made it into a video, set against a gallery of family photos.
What a lovely tribute, and one that will last forever.