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Monday September 01, 2014
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David Holt

 

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He'll regale you with tales older than the hills, as well as stories of his grandmother — a woman, he'll tell you, who "really knew how to put the fun in dysfunctional." He tells of jamming on the set of the Coen brothers' O Brother, Where Art Thou? with George Clooney and Holly Hunter, and then draws on his Texas heritage to recite cowboy poems about reincarnation and horse doo-doo. Or he might tell of the first motorcycle in Black Mountain, North Carolina. (That's "motorsickle" to you, city slickers.) The title alone brings a knowing smile to your face, don't it?

But Holt's stories and songs take us far beyond Beverly Hillbillies stereotypes. After you've listened to him for an hour or two, you feel transported back in time — back to a world before the Internet, before Guitar Hero, before TV, before electricity even.

Over the past four decades, Holt has studied with and been mentored by a lengthy and still-growing list of storytellers and musicians, famous and unknown: Roy Acuff, Grandpa Jones, 123-year-old Susie Brunson — who taught him to play the washboard — and Ann Arbor's own Percy Danforth, from whom he learned to play the bones with both hands (Holt's dad taught him the one-handed style when he was still a boy). Holt even learned advanced jaw harp techniques from Dizzy Gillespie. Yes, jaw harp, from the Dizzy Gillespie.

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