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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

An amalgam of funk, soul, pop and hip-hop will be served up by the Magic City Hippies

The Magic City Hippies will perform Tuesday at the Knitting Factory.  (Courtesy)

When the Magic City Hippies formed in 2015, the band’s moniker was taken from Miami.

“That’s the nickname of the city we’re from,” vocalist-guitarist Robby Hunter said while calling from Helena. “Miami has always been known as ‘The Magic City,’ and I understand why going back to the mobster days when the casinos were offshore. There’s no city like it.”

The latter part of the band’s moniker is courtesy of a period when the band lived in a funky downtown bungalow.

“It was called ‘The Hippie Castle,’ “ Hunter said. “It was built by hippies during the ’70s, who went on the road with (the late novelist) Ken Kesey. It’s this wood-paneled four-bedroom and we loved it. So it made sense to call the band, the Magic City Hippies.”

Hunter learned that some other cities possess magic as well, such as Bozeman.

“That’s where I live now and I can tell you it’s a magical place,” Hunter said. “I’m driving in and out of the mountains of Montana and it’s just an amazing place to be. I love it out here. It’s so cool from here through Eastern Washington and across the Pacific Northwest.

“There’s magic in this area but a different kind of magic.”

Hunter moved to Bozeman during the pandemic, since he fell in love.

”You’ve heard the story before,” Hunter said. “Boy meets girl and boy follows girl. It’s what I did without regret.”

Hunter’s girlfriend and new environment inspired a new collection of songs for the band, which has a laid-back hippie vibe. The band’s sound veers from reggae to hip hop to funk to pop to soul.

“We make music that we want to hear,” Hunter said. “We just hope the audience likes what we do. So we’re all over the place.

“We don’t pay attention to the genre. What we pay attention to is the groove. There has to be some kind of groove even if it’s a slow love song.”

The Magic City Hippies, which also include guitarist John Coughlin and drummer Pat Howard, will preview some new love songs Tuesday at the Knitting Factory that were inspired by Bozeman and such bands as the Eagles and Steely Dan.

Hunter laughed when detailing how his parent’s musical favorites moved him during the songwriting process.

”I know you’re supposed to rebel against what your mother and father love, but those bands made some great music,” Hunter said. “So these new songs have a ’70s vibe.”

The fresh tracks also have contemporary elements. There’s electronic passages.

“It’s a mix, but it works,” Hunter said. “We’re looking back and thinking about slipping the ‘Hotel California’ (guitar) solo in with our music. It’s our homage to the music, which inspired us.

“During our last tour we did something similar with the Beatles. We had to pay tribute to them.”

Hunter is bummed, since the Magic City Hippies won’t be able to repeat their stop in Coeur d’Alene in 2022.

The band revisited some of its favorite food trucks, including Raw Dead Fish.

“They have some of the best sushi,” Hunter said. “I would love to go back there, but we can’t.”

The Magic City Hippies is on a tour bus for the first time so roadside stops aren’t easy.

“That’s the downside of not traveling by van anymore,” Hunter said. “With a tour bus you can’t just stop anywhere. So we are going to drive right to the venue in Spokane, park and figure out where we should eat. I’m sure Spokane has some great restaurants, but I know we’re going to miss the food trucks of Coeur d’Alene.”