The American South has an incredibly rich musical legacy, bearing witness to the birth of
Jazz, Rock, Country and of course, The Blues. Singer/Guitarist/Entertainer/Songwriter Scott Holt has been carrying the Blues torch for his entire career. Born and raised primarily in Tennessee, he and his family also made homes in Texas and Mississippi. The lanky, tattooed Tennessean was “touring before I knew it was called touring! My family moved a lot when I was little so I’ve lived all over the place.” After beginning his musical journey at 19 years old, Holt jumped on the fast-track by joining his friend and mentor Buddy Guy in October, 1989.
Holt’s first step towards musical apprenticeship came when his father took him to a Tampa, FL club to hear bluesmen Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. “I’d never been in a club before or heard anything like Buddy Guy and Junior Wells,” Holt recounts. After a backstage meeting, the young student and venerable master stayed in touch. Over the next year or so Holt was invited on stage to jam with Guy, including the first night his new club Legends opened to the public in Chicago during the Bluesfest weekend and then one day Guy called to invite Holt into his band. “I’d never even been in a band before,” Holt says. “so all of a sudden, there I am at 20, leaving home for Chicago with my guitar, my amp, a suitcase, a one-way plane ticket and my passport. I had no idea of when or even if I was ever coming back home.”
Holt was at Guy’s side for a decade. “Before I started making some money, I would sometimes sleep on the pool table at Legends. I always thought with all the “ghost-notes” floating around in there from Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Albert Collins and of course from Buddy, that maybe I would soak it up in my sleep! I learned so much from Buddy. He never seemed to get tired of my questions, and I asked a lot! He is one my heroes and one of my dearest friends, all at the same time. To this day, what he can do never ceases to amaze me.” And Guy remains an enthusiastic supporter of Holt. “He’s an automatic. He’s good! Every time I hear (Scott) I hear some improvement he’s made…”
In addition to his tenure with Buddy Guy , which included recording the GRAMMY winning record Slippin’ In, 2 appearances on Austin City Limits, an appearance in the major motion picture THINGS TO DO IN DENVER, Holt’s 7 solo records’ have established him not only as a six-string virtuoso but also as a penetrating and soulful storyteller. Holt calls it “creating a soulful communion; getting to a place where the sound that my band and I make are like an embrace; warm, human and uncorrupted by technology.” Through the countless hours and miles on the road, Scott has developed a reputation as one of the most exciting live acts in the world.
Scott’s has a saying; LOUD IS GOOD. He explains his philosophy this way; “When I talk about ‘loud is good’, I’m not talking about turning everything up – it’s not necessarily high volume. It’s about more of a ‘spiritual loudness’ or ‘intenseness’ something that is felt as well as heard. Not something to be shrill or hurt someone’s ears but something they can feel inside!”
The spirituality of music is an important aspect of who Scott is as an artist. “So often music is treated as something that’s disposable, or as a tool to sell jeans or beer. Music is more than that. Music is one of God’s great gifts to us. It’s a unique language that transcends borders and barriers. It transcends cultures and customs and allows us too communicate with each other at the level of our hearts instead of our minds. My goal, as an artist, is not only to entertain but to enlighten and inspire.”
Aside from Buddy Guy, Scott’s single biggest musical influence is Jimi Hendrix. “I didn’t hear Jimi’s music until I was 19 but from that moment on I knew where I needed to go.” he recalls. “I begged my parents for a guitar and they gave me one for Christmas.” With the help of a Hendrix-savvy instructor, Doug Thurman, Holt was on his way, developing the rudiments of his style. You can hear echoes of Hendrix’s stinging vibrato and wah-soaked stringing in all of Scott’s work. Scott even had the opportunity to record with Hendrix’s last band, Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell on his second record, Dark Of The Night. “That record was a highlight for me!” Eddie Kramer (former Hendrix engineer) produced the disc and it even features Scott, Mitch and Billy doing a version of Voodoo Chile (Slight Return). “After we recorded it I asked Mitch when he last played that song and he said ’30 years ago’ with Jimi! I’ll always be proud of that.”
While blues remains at the core of his being, he is constantly evolving and exploring as an artist. He reflects, “I am a bluesman through and through. It’s just who I am when recording or performing. It has been an affirmation over the years as I play my music for audiences and have them receive it and embrace it as enthusiastically as the music of the Masters that we play. If you listen,” Holt continues, “you’ll always hear the blues in the foundation of my playing, but my mentors and guides, the greatest bluesmen, like Buddy, B.B. King, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, were always changing, experimenting and evolving. I’ve tried to maintain that philosophy and attitude towards my own music, just create the music and let people call it what they want.”
Scott has most recently been working with Roger Earl of Foghat. Scott helped co-write and record Foghat’s latest release; the Tom Hambridge produced – UNDER THE INFLUENCE as well as singing on two tracks, including the first single; UPSIDE OF LONELY. In addition, while working with Roger Earl (Drummer and founding member) and Bryan Bassett (Guitarist), the three decided that they were having so much fun playing together that they should form another band! They began writing additional material and rearranging their favorite songs from other artists and christened the project EARL & THE AGITATORS along with Rodney O’Quinn (Bassist), Tony Bullard (Guitarist) and Mark Petrocelli (Percussion). They released an Earl & the Agitators EP in early 2017 and the released a complete album; Shaken & Stirred in 2018. Roger and Scott, along with Foghat guitarist Brian Bassett are currently writing and recording new music for a Scott Holt solo release as well as more EATA and Foghat music.
Scott has recorded and/or performed with B.B. King, Albert Collins, Junior Wells,John Lee Hooker, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor, Foghat, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Eric Johnson, Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, Buddy Miles, Lou Rawls, David Bowie, Double Trouble, Doyle Bramhall II, Joe Louis Walker, Lonnie Brooks, Chris Duarte, Albert King, Steve Miller, Larry Coryell, Larry Mitchell, & Little Feat, among others.
Scott has performed at The Chicago Blues Fest, The Windsor International Blues Fest, The Ottawa Blues Fest, Memphis In May, Bonaroo, The London Blues Fest, The Mt. Baker Blues Fest, The Mont Tremblant Blues Fest, The Eureka Springs Blues Fest, The Bayfront Blues Fest, to name a few.
Scott has appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Conan Obrien, Austin City Limits, The Jon Stewart Show, Good Morning America and many more. Scott appeared in the motion picture Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead.