So legend has it that the Birmingham native, Lonnie Holley, was the 7th of 27 children, a gravedigger, was a short order cook at Disney World and was traded for a bottle of whiskey at age four. But that is just scratching the surface of who Lonnie Holley is and what fuels the creative furnace burning inside him.
He took the stage at the Hoover Library, near Birmingham, AL accompanied by an amazing band made up of an impressive pedigree. Ben Sollee (cello) started off the night with a mini set followed by Marshall Ruffin (guitar) who began his set with a really cool a cappella. Stevie Nistor, who has played with Danger Mouse and Daniel Lanois, backed up both on drums.
While talking with Ben Sollee in between sets, Lonnie mentioned that every song performed by their band is improvised and completely original. Holley even expanded on this in between songs when he mentioned that “We don’t practice, we do. You don’t have to practice, it’s in you. You do. And the spirit is going to guide you, take you, and show you the way.”
Each song did have a theme that he would touch on briefly before leading into it. With song themes like “Collaboration”, “Obstacles” and “Mothers being Fathers and Fathers being Mothers” the mood was heavy but the music was captivating. I had a blast watching the musicians play off one another all the while following the lead of Holley who took some abrupt and sharp turns throughout their 7 song set. It was one of the most interesting and memorable shows for me so far.
All photos and written by Art Husband.
Additional photos from the evening: