The American South has an incredibly rich musical legacy – the genesis of Jazz, cradle of Rock and Roll and birthplace of The Blues. Lanky, tattooed Tennessean, Scott Holt has been a bearer of the Blues torch for his entire career. Born and raised in Tennessee, Texas and Mississippi, Scott was “touring before I was touring! My family moved a lot when I was little so I’ve lived all over the area where my favorite music was born and developed.” After beginning his musical journey relatively late, at 19 years old, Holt jumped on the fast-track by joining his friend and mentor Buddy Guy and playing guitar for 10 years during the most successful period of the Legend’s career.
In addition to his tenure with Buddy and playing on the GRAMMY winning record Slippin’ In, Holt’s 7 solo records’ have established him not only as a six-string powerhouse but also as a penetrating and soulful storyteller. Holt calls it “tapping a frequency-getting to a place where the sounds that my band and I make are warm, human and undisguised by technology.” Through the countless hours and miles on the road, criss-crossing the country, Scott has developed a reputation as one of the most exciting live acts in the world.
The official motto for the band, as found on their merchandise, website and liner notes to their CD’s is; LOUD IS GOOD. Scott explains his philosophy this way; “When I talk about loud being good, I’m not necessarily saying that you should turn everything up – it’s not necessarily high volume. It’s about a ‘spiritual loudness’ being proudly who you are and embracing music as an important and spiritual necessity of life.”
The spirituality of music is an important aspect of who Scott is as an artist. “So often music is treated as just another commodity, something used to sell jeans, beer or coffee. Music is much more than that to me. Music has the power to change the world, it crosses every barrier that separates one group or nation from another and, as an artist, I feel a responsibility to try and not only entertain but enlighten and inspire.”
Holt caught rock ‘n’ roll fever when he was boy and his parents took him to his first concert: Elvis Presley. Today, in addition to his own flaming guitar logo and his wife and daughter’s names, Presley’s trademark “TCB” with lightning bolt logo is tattooed on his left arm – a symbol of Holt’s fandom and work ethic. He also wears a tattoo of Jimi Hendrix. “When I was a teenager and discovered Hendrix, I’d never heard anybody play like that and I instantly knew what I wanted to do,” he recalls. “I begged my parents for a white Stratocaster and a Marshall amp!” His first instrument was a cheaper electric, but with the help of a Hendrix savvy instructor Holt was on his way, developing the rudiments of his style. In much of Scott’s work, you can hear echoes of Hendrix’s stinging vibrato and wah-soaked stringing booming through “Wicked Grip,” a dark-edged unadulterated rocker, and within the shimming chordal architecture of the “The Fool”, both songs from Scott’s most recent recording KUDZU.
Holt made his first step toward musical apprenticeship when his father took him to Chicago to hear bluesman Buddy Guy. “I had never been in a club before or heard a really great guitar player like Buddy live,” 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, and then one day Guy called to invite Holt into his band. “I’d never even been in a band before,” Holt says. “I tried to get bands together in back home in Tennessee, but it never worked out. So all of a sudden at 19 I was leaving home for Chicago with my guitar, my amp, a suitcase and my passport.”
Holt played at Guy’s side for a decade. “Buddy taught me everything, from how to order at a restaurant, to always being on time, how to run a band and win over a crowd. He is one my heroes and one of my best 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 him (Scott) I hear some improvement he’s made…”
There is no question Holt has diversified his pure talent over the course of 7 records and countless miles on the road. While blues remains at the core of his being, he is evolving as an artist. His music is a reflection of his own character as both a man and an artist, growing every day. He reflects, “I am a bluesman through and through, and it is always a part of who I am when recording or performing. It has been an affirmation over the past year as I play my songs for audiences and have them receive them and embrace them as enthusiastically as the music of the Masters that we play. I believe in every note I play with all my heart, and I have never been more confident or honest lyrically. It really is a special experience to share that with audiences and get such great responses night after night.”
“If you listen,” Holt continues, “you can always hear the blues in the foundation of my playing, but the greatest bluesmen, like Buddy and 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.”