The band HuDost has gone through a lot of challenges over the years, but a new baby hasn’t been one of them. “So far it’s been really wonderful,” says Moksha Sommer in a call from a stop on the current tour. “We’re mostly just able to be at weekend shows and festivals. It’s decent income without spending a ton time and we’re able to be with our baby 98 percent of the time.
Sommer and musical life-partner Jemal Wade Hines make up the core of HuDost. The two joined forces a little more than eight years ago after meeting at a Sufi gathering in Chapel Hill, N.C. Sommer, a native of Montreal, and Hines, born in Knoxville and raised in Gainesville, Fla., had very different musical backgrounds. Sommer studied Eastern European and Mideastern vocal styles and performed with the Bread and Puppet Theater as a child. Hines had been in hard rock bands and many of his stories include the word “psychedelics” in them. The musical blend that the two created was easy to listen to and impossible to classify.
HuDost released an album in 2005 and slowly and steadily gained a national following. Earlier this year, the couple released “4th Way Folk,” a slightly more conventional album than some of the group’s past efforts.
While success has been steady and sure, the group was waylaid twice due to medical problems. Sommer had to have surgery to remove a brain tumor. The recovery left her unable to see or speak for a short time. She later shattered collar bone in a bicycle wreck and had to spend time recovering.
Thankfully, the couple’s most recent medical procedure was a much happier one. The couple’s son, Kaleb, was born in September. It’s definitely an initiation into a whole new way of life,” says Sommer. For a group that relies on a spiritual vibe for much of its music, listeners might wonder what effect having a child has on a couple’s art. “If anything, it created more inspiration before he was born,” says Sommer.” There was this rush of ‘We’ve got to get everything done!'” Luckily, the couple has been just as creative after becoming parents. “I’m inspired to sing to him all the time and not just kids’ songs. He’s almost like a creative lever pushing me forward to new material. It’s been wonderful.” “We’re making up all kinds of songs,” says Hines. “We’ll be singing a silly little kids’ song and say, ‘We should write that one down!'”
The duo has been working on a new album with Steve Kilbey (member of the band The Church) that’s expected to be released in 2014 and Sommer is adding vocals to a project by former Yes frontman Jon Anderson. The two hope to go on tour with Kilbey to support the disc.
Sommer says it’s great to see that the act has become popular enough that it can stay off the road for extended periods of time and not lose momentum. The two hope to do more events that will allow them to spend more than one day in a city. After performing at Knoxville’s Tennessee Shines show, the group will travel to Hot Springs, N.C. to headline the Three Days of Light festival. Sommer says she hopes to incorporate more video and theater aspects to the group’s stage show as time goes on and put her degrees in visual and theater arts to good use. The group sometimes incorporates Biz’ Cirque into the act when they’re in the Knoxville area.
For now the couple are enjoying the changes that parenthood is bringing. “It’s awesome,” says Hines. “I”ve been a self-absorbed (expletive) my whole life. I still want to go out and buy records. Now I can say,”Here’s a collector’s item! I’ll buy it for the boy!”