Last Friday night I had the pleasure of seeing John Dee Holman at the Warehouse Blues Series at West Village. Andy Coates opened. I'd never seen either of them perform before, but Friday night's weather looked promising--low humidity and a good breeze--and some friends were going, so I went along as well. I'm so glad I did.
Andy Coates did a great job of warming up the crowd for John Dee. I especially liked it when Andy played the National steel and used a glass medicine bottle as a slide. He has a nice strong voice and knows his blues.
I kept noticing John Dee Holman waiting on the sidelines to come up next and I was anticipating hearing him perform. I wasn't wrong in my suspicion that he is the real deal. A local blues--a Piedmont Blues--guy who, at 79, can still put on a show. He had fans in the audience already, and I'm definitely a new fan.
I found some information on his style in this Indy article from a few years ago:
Born and raised in the Piedmont, John Dee Holman is a self-taught musician, and to blues aficionados, the man when it comes to being a living, performing exponent of the Piedmont Blues.
While the Delta Blues went north to become "Chicago Blues" and Texas bluesmen pioneered the West Coast Blues, the northern migration of African Americans from the Carolinas never resulted in any real "New York Blues" movement. For one reason, the Piedmont Blues developed as primarily a guitar-oriented sound--an instantly recognizable picking style played by the likes of Blind Boy Fuller that lent itself to acoustic, rather than electric, guitar (electrified, it's got more of a Lightnin' Hopkins sound). Thought to be derived from African-American banjo picking, this style--using the thumb to pluck out a rhythmic bass line while your fingers pick out a melody--is the blues tradition Holman carries on.
Some of the songs I liked were Chapel Hill Boogie, Give Me Back My Wig, Step It Up And Go, Mojo Hand, and John Henry.
I was too stupid to remember to get one of John Dee's CDs before I left Friday night, but I intend to. I believe I can order it through the MusicMaker site.
Not sure I have the time to go to tomorrow evening's performance, but from 6pm to 8pm, but "Slewfoot and Sons" will perform then.