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Tony Holiday to Inject Blues and Soul into Mahoney’s Summer Concert Series
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Tony Holiday is a vocalist, songwriter and harp player.
 
 
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Thursday, June 8, 2023
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Tony Holiday grew up in Salt Lake City far from Beale Street. But that didn’t stop him from becoming one of America’s hottest blues artists—a skilled harmonica player and a man of soul.

His latest album, “Motel Mississippi,” eeks with North Mississippi Hill Country, Delta Blues and Memphis soul influences. And he found a unique way to tell the story of the blues by traveling the country recording people on front porch for his Porch Sessions series.

Holiday has shared the blues with Wood River Valley residents through periodic concerts at Mahoney’s Bar and Grill. And he’ll perform a free concert at the Bellevue hamburger joint at 6:30 Thursday, June 15.

“We started the concert series about 16 years ago, and we’ve become good friends over the years,” said Stephany Mahoney, who will kick this summer’s series off tonight with Metal Marty & Friends.

Holiday calls himself a student of the blues, even after all these years.

“I found B.B. King as a kid and his music just grabbed me. I love any type of music that paints pictures and tells a story and what drew me in was how the cool the characters were—characters like John Lee Hooker.”

Holiday traveled the country for 12 years, recording singers on their front porches.

“I got started because I heard Buddy Guy’s story about not being able to afford any instruments as a kid. In response, he took a wire out of the screen door, nailed it to the porch and began plucking that wire. He so needed to get the music out so badly. That was huge for me. I loved that story and I had such a connection with that expression.”

Holiday traveled the country for 12 years recording blues legends on their front porch. The front porch became an essential part of telling the story, Holiday said.

“So much of the blues comes from porch picking families in the south who didn’t have air condition. It was so hot at night they’d go out on the porch to make their music. Every porch has a story”

Many of those Holiday asked to record were initially confused—"You want me to do what????” But they warmed up to him as he told them all he wanted to do was sit them down on the porch and record them playing music. No rehearsals needed.

Among those he visited was Charlie Musselwhite.

“I had to borrow money to get there but I could see the end and I was willing to do anything to make it happen. I got there with just enough money to pay Charlie for his performance, and I got to the house and knocked on his door and he slammed it in my face,” Holiday recounted.

Holiday stood there stunned, unsure how to proceed.

“Then he opened the door again with a smile because he was just kidding!” he said. “Whew!”

Holiday didn’t realize how much the odyssey changed his own music.

“I was able to get up close with a lot of these legends and see how they operate and what it takes,” he said.

Holiday recorded his latest album at Memphis music legend Jim Dickinson’s famed Zebra Ranch in Coldwater, Miss.

It’s a really great record—in the vein of hill country music,” he said.

Look for him to play some excerpts from it next Thursday when his five-piece Memphis band joins him at Mahoney’s in a very harmonious set.

“I love singing with people—we’ll have four-part harmony throughout as we play hill country stuff, some Memphis soul, that kind of stuff.”

MAHONEY’S SUMMER CONCERT SERIES

June 8—Metal Marty & Friends

June 15—Tony Holiday

June 22—Rancho Notorious

June 29—Buddy Devore & the Faded Cowboys

July 6—Ryan Curtis Band

July 13—Parade of Bad Guys

July 21—Cruz Contreras

July 27—Max Kaplan & The Magics

Aug. 3—Johnny V Band

Aug. 10—Magic Circus

Aug. 17—George Devore

Aug. 2—Groove FX

Aug. 31—Casey Shelden & the Homewrecker

Sept. 7—Kim Stocking Band

The free concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. on Mahoney’s patio. Mahoney’s is at 104 S. Main St. in Bellevue.

 

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