Blues Rock & Muse 2019-

‘Tony Holiday is a vocalist and harp player who is rapidly emerging as a star on the international blues scene. He has been recognized by blues legends like Charlie Musselwhite and Rick Estrin as one of the finest up-and-comers in the game right now and is steadily building his own legend one gig at a time. Speaking of gigs, he plays up to 200 of them a year across the US and has brilliantly recorded his latest album Porch Sessions in between them on the actual porches of some of the blue’s best-known musicians. Hitting the streets January 25th, 2019 on the VizzTone Label Group, Porch Sessions by Tony Holiday is reminiscent of Alan Lomax’s landmark field recordings and the live recordings that have surfaced from Chicago’s famed Maxwell Street era over the years. It is all about the real blues captured live as it happens.

Tony, along with his partner Landon Stone, have crisscrossed America in pursuit of this project and have ended up on some pretty significant front porches. Live sessions were tracked featuring some of the blue’s biggest names, including Charlie Musselwhite, John Primer, Kid Ramos, John Nemeth, Kid Andersen, Rockin’ Johnny Burgin, and more. The down-and-dirty format is a genius move, as it connects listeners directly to the live blues experience. Studio slickness is replaced by in-the-moment performances and off-the-cuff deliveries. It’s like sitting in on a rehearsal or impromptu jam where the musicians are playing for the simple joy of doing so.

Highlights abound on Porch Sessions by Tony Holiday and hardcore blues fans will love every inch of this record. The opening cut features guitarist Kid Ramos and singer/harpist James Harman getting down on a number called “Pickpocket Fingers,” a Jimmy Reed-ish shuffle about a girl with a “Buster Keaton smile” that’s immediately engaging and sets the tone for what’s to follow. Ramos’ rhythm playing is absolutely popping and will make you want to move, even in this intimate context. Chicago guitarist and Muddy Water’s bandleader John Primer checks in with “They Call Me John Primer” and brings the classic interwoven Windy City sound with him. Bob Corritore adds harp in all the right places and Primer sounds as full of life as he ever has.

One of the best cuts on Porch Sessions is the humid and sultry “A Woman Named Trouble,” which showcases Jake Friel on vocals and John Nemeth on harmonica. Built on a subtle-yet-simmering funk groove, the track creates that smoky 3AM headspace that made many of us fall in love with the truth of the blues. When Friel tells us his woman “can make a baby out of a full-grown man,” we are left with no choice but to believe.



 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!



Porch Sessions

Vizztone Label Group

Tony Holiday used to play guitar and front the Salt Lake City based Tony Holiday and the Velvetones. When he switched to harmonica he recruited the then young prodigy Landon Stone as the band’s guitarist. The band won the Salt Lake City Weekly Music Awards and was named 2016’s “Best Blues Band”. Now residing and working out of Memphis the band is now named The Tony Holiday Band. They play 200 shows a year and have shared the stage with Guitar Shorty, Lazy Lester, Tinsley Ellis, Curtis Salgado, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Toronzo Cannon and many others.

For their debut album Holiday and his guitarist Stone decided to record in the spirit of the early field recordings and traveled from coast to coast recording on the porches of some of the country’s best blues musicians. Especially nice was recording duets with some of our great harmonica players. The album is produced by Greg Shaw and Kid Andersen who plays bass throughout the recording.

That’s Alright” written by Jimmy Rogers was recorded sitting on Charlie Musselwhite’s porch in Geyserville, a community in Sonoma County, Ca. A third harp player Aki Kumar, joined Musselwhite and Holiday, and guitarists Stone and Rockin’ Johnny Burgin on this fine track with Alex Pettersen on drums. The vocal is by Kumar.

In January of 2018 Holiday and Stone were back in Memphis recording with the two-time Blues Music Award winning John Nemeth heard singing and playing harp on Junior Wells’ “Blues Hit Big Town”. They were joined by Nemeth’s band The Blue Dreamers on Bettye Crutcher’s “Woman Named Trouble” with the addition of Jake Friel also on harp.

They caught up with Californians James Harman also a two-time BMA winner, harp and vocals; and guitarist Kid Ramos in May and recorded “Pick Pocket Fingers”, “Special Friend” and “GoinTo Court” with a fabulous solo from Ramos.

Becky Ann” written by vocalist and harp ace Mitch Kashmar was originally included on his 2005 album “Nickel and Dimes”. It is reprised with Ronnie Shellist joining them on harp.

BMA winner’s John Primer who played with both Muddy Waters and Magic Slim, and harpist Bob Corritore join Holiday, Stone and their regular drummer Joel Meza, Jr. on both Jimmy Dawkins’ “Tell Me Baby” and on Primer’s signature song “They Call Me John Primer”.

Shellist joins Holiday and Stone on the Instrumental “Hip To It”. They are joined again by Burgin’ on “Coin Operated Woman” written by Victor Wainwright; and on James Harman’s song “Three Way Party” with the lyric “It was me and Jim Beam baby, when Jim Beam spilled his guts all you could do is stare”. Soul singer William Kidd sounds great on Don Robey’s “This Time I’m Gone For Good” recorded by Bobby “Blue” Bland in 1970 with Shellist once again joining Holiday and Stone.

The musicianship heard here, especially with the various harmonica combinations; make this a great debut. We’re look forward to seeing The Tony Holiday Band next time we’re in Memphis.

Richard Ludmerer