The blues began on the plantations of the South, but it didn’t stay there long. It is said that the blues is an amalgamation of Mexican guitars, Native American singing and African singing. It is often performed in a call and response manner, as it was first used to keep rhythm and bring a little joy to the lives of those picking cotton on the sprawling plantations of the Old South.
After the end of slavery many of the people stayed on the master’s land and worked as sharecroppers. Too often, they made just enough to pay the rent and scrape by in conditions not much better than those they endured as slaves. However, the blues lived on. It evolved, and as the people moved on to the cities, the blues went with them. It rode along for the ride because it was in the souls of the people. It is the origin of all American music. From the blues came jazz, gospel, country, and later, rock and roll.
Tony Holiday is a bluesman. He lives and breathes blues. He’s a student of the blues and he’s becoming a master. Holiday found the blues at 13-years-old, when he was given his first B.B. King album. The stories and the sounds moved him. He had come from a classic country background, so it was only natural that the passion and soul of blues music would sit well with him.
It was Chicago blues man Little Walter and his blues harp playing that really struck Holiday. He said upon first listen that “time stood still.” Holiday is an amazing guitar player, but it is his love for the harmonica that has shaped him into the bluesman he is today. He is endorsed by Seydel Harmonicas, a very high-end harmonica company, often called “the Cadillac of harmonicas.” At his shows, Holiday plays the blues harp and sings while he is backed by his band, The Velvetones, which features Lanny “Stringbean” Stone on lead guitar.
Holiday first hit the road in 2009. He says his time touring has all been highlights. “I have the white line fever,” Holiday tells me in an email from the road. His favorite moments have been found deep in the South and in places like Chicago and New York City. He and his wife were even married in a little barbecue joint down on the Georgia coast. (I had the privilege of being there.) On his travels he has met many of his music heroes including Sharon Paycheck, Charlie Musselwhite, Lazy Lester, and Charlie Pride.
Tony is currently recording an album, The Porch Sessions. With this album, he captures his band band playing with blues legends on front porches around the country. He feels that the front porch sessions bring a realness to the experience. “The front porch is where family and friends got to know each other and play music,” Holiday says
So far, Tony’s travels have taken him all over the U.S. and Europe. He doesn’t know where the road will take him, but wherever it takes him, the blues will go with him.
Tony Holiday and The Velvetones will be touring Europe in March. Follow them on Facebook for a schedule of regional shows in Utah, Idaho, Colorado, and Arizona at the end of March.
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