After a long day at the Gloucester Blues Festival in 2018, where fantastic music filled the air, I’d finally packed up the car and headed home. Waterlogged from a day of rain but the musical parade kept right on going. When I got back in the car I saw mention of a band I wasn’t familiar with playing at 9 Wallis. With a name like Tony Holiday and The Velvetones, aka The Tony Holiday Blues Band, you have to check that out!
Walking in I wasn’t sure if I was going to see a lounge style act or solid Blues. The promo posters said Blues and they were right!
Coming from Salt Lake City UT, though now based out of Memphis, these guys came to play and they brought that deep down Blues where they “Ain’t had a dry night at home since Daddy shot a hole in the roof!” or are dealing with your “1st Wives 2nd Marriage”.
Tony, on vocals and harp, brings out that old school voice that is sometimes missing from the Blues scene today. It harkens back to when the Blues were just finding their way in the new electric age. In that transition, the sounds that were coming out of the local independent record labels in Memphis and that you might of heard from the King Biscuit Hour in its later years or on one of the other many stations that spotted the value of the Blues.
His passion and vocal strength with a soulman’s heart and wicked sense of impish humor blend to let you enjoy those deep blues and then chuckle when you might not otherwise have done so at the sometimes dark current of Blues. He has the ability to make you laugh in the face of pain so that you can take that next step by turning on your heel and walking into the light where he’s got a tune for you there for you to meet your next ex-wife on the dance floor and make some memories.
With him on guitar is Landon Stone. Tall and lean with the brooding face of so many guitarists who have melded with the instrument, he places a perfect counterpoint to Tony’s harp. When the two play off of one another, well... frankly... you forget your damp and tired and hungry after a long rainy day of festival music, and you just have fun!
The two have spent the last several months going around together and visiting artists where they step out on the front porch and play some Blues together while recording the moment. The new album, aptly named the Porch Sessions, was recently released and is a phenomenal collection of music in such a rich tone and full of fun moments of Blues Nerd glee.
While touring they had Gordon Greenwood on bass and Danny on drums.
Gordon, also of Utah, studied at Berklee College of Music. Bringing his education and passion for music to the stage, he carried a strong natural bass line to the classic Blues sound of the Delta/Funk/Rock Blues stylings of the event. Generous with his time and talent he comes from a family of showmanship which no doubt has helped to shape the performer he is today.
With Danny on the drums you never missed a foot tap as he kept the engine thrumming along at a pace reminiscent of the Delta sound that pervades the bands style.
That style is prevalent through the songwriting as well as the respect for the rich history upon which they are building. Even when they are playing something outside of the strict Delta style, the underpinnings are firmly in place.
Having a passion for the Chicago/Delta style, I appreciate the work and skill they’ve put into their music and in honoring the history of musicians that have come before to develop the most iconic of sounds and the most American form of music.
This is something that they have connected with deeply, as evidenced in their latest album, Porch Sessions, where they have sat down to play with the giants of the Blues community and to get that feel of the down home Blues.
Keep an eye on their schedule for their next trek from the Memphis area they now call home, a very blessed Memphis indeed, and begin a renewed tour through the US and hopefully back to New England sooner than later!
*This review was not solicited by the musicians or venue.