A creative haven has emerged at the foothills of Kennesaw Mountain, although the structure itself has been there for nearly 127 years.

The Hunt House is fast-becoming one of Cobb County’s funkiest, most organic music venues in arguably the most beautiful setting. Tucked on top of a hill at the corner of White Circle and Old 41 with the mountain looming in the distance, the old house is humbly cradled under trees and sunshine.

Inside, the house’s “living room” can hold around 50 listeners as musicians from Kevn Kinney (lead singer of Drivin N’ Cryin) to bluegrass trios have already graced the small, intimate stage. Outside, a large pavilion plays host to full bands as kids run through the open field beside it and adults sip on drinks, eat good food and listen to musicians as they share their artistry.

“So many people have driven by and when I tell them it’s here, they say, ‘I didn’t even know what that was!’” said Bennie “Burle” Galloway, general manager of The Hunt House.

“We’re trying to alleviate confusion and let everybody know that it’s a diamond in the rough. In the middle of metropolitan mayhem, to have this as a sanctuary is absolutely absurd. It’s so under the radar and so cool.”

Galloway himself is a well-known artist and songwriter, having worked with hundreds of bands, including Yonder Mountain String Band, The Wayward Suns and The Infamous Stringdusters, just to name a few. The Denver native first visited the property two years ago when owner and chef Marc Sommers gave him a tour and some tastings from his onsite catering company, Parsley’s Catering.

“It was a Saturday so nobody was here, it was in the fall, it was beautiful. I just walked on the place and saw that a lot could be done with this - not just with music and food but you could build a community here and host workshops and classes, do shows, festivals, art shows, street-style fairs, all kinds of things and it’s right across the street from the park,” Galloway said.

Although Galloway was brought on mainly for his connections and expertise in music, he is a man of many trades, having served as a butcher since the ‘70s and most recently operating a hotel and wedding venue in Lyons, Colorado, about an hour from his hometown of Denver.

“Marc’s knowledge of food was right up my alley. He has his own farmers and orders up these good, clean products. That’s what I worked with – clean products, clean programs so cowboys who were my friends could get their products sold in supermarkets and the customer could get a really good product,” Galloway said.

Concert-goers can enjoy everything from grilled chicken wings to salads and homemade sausages, all priced from $5 to $11 per dish. The bars also feature beer and wine and The Hunt House has recently partnered with Kennesaw’s Burnt Hickory Brewing to serve local craft beers.

When it comes to the music, though, it’s all about the connection.

“Inside, you can get really close to the point where you can speak to the performers from the audience. You can actually have a conversation and they can engage with you so it’s a very personalized show. It’s all about listening to what the artist is going to do and why they’re doing it. You gotta love that as an artist because people pay to come see what you do and they’re very interested. It’s not wallpaper at that point. You’re the focus and not that conceit comes into it, but you’re working and you’re applying your skill and your trade and your art and people are there to embrace it and absorb it and it’s so easy to absorb the art that close up, in that room,” Galloway said of the indoor space.

As for the outdoor space, this summer will play host to a number of weekend, full-day, family-friendly outdoor shows, with drinks starting at 2 p.m., food starting at 3 p.m. and rotating bands taking the stage from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“We had guys down from Denver last week then I jumped on board with them so it was something different then they left and some other guys got on then they all came back so it was a test-drive of a four-hour run. Kids were playing games and the outside is just great to enjoy, whether you’re sitting in a lawn chair or listening to the music or having something to eat with us,” Galloway said.

And while Galloway said they were excited to have around 75 people at The Hunt House’s first show in February (Nick Disebastian and Jared Womack held the stage for that one), he knows that once people realize what the house on the hill actually is, there’s no going back.

“When everybody starts showing up, we’re going to say, ‘Remember when we had 75 people here and that was awesome, now there’s 300?’” Galloway said. “It’s like the calm before the storm.

All of the people who have been patronizing our establishment are going, ‘Man, I hope people don’t find out about this because then it’ll be like, the secret’s out of the bag.’ And we’ll be dealing with a lot more people. But there’s room for everyone and the way it’s set up, it’s just been fantastic for any amount of people to come walking through. We’ll let the secret out.”

For more information on The Hunt House or to learn about upcoming concerts, visit The Hunt House’s page on Facebook.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY KATY RUTH CAMP

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