Lonnie Holley

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The first album was among my favorites of last year.
The show I saw him at this year was among my favorite live performances of this year.
Very much looking forward to the new album.

YOU FOOLS PAY OVER $2.50 for a comic book (forksclovetofu), Friday, 30 August 2013 20:31 (nine years ago) link

Thats so amazing.

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 30 August 2013 22:35 (nine years ago) link

from his label, Dust To Digital:
Here his voice reminds me of Garland Jeffreys (compliment)



The Making of Keeping A Record Of It

In November of 2006, Lonnie Holley joined a recording project in Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Matt Arnett rented an old church, hired an engineer, and set up a recording studio inside Friendship Baptist Church. During the day Matt, Amos Harvey, and Brando Marius (the engineer) worked to record the rapidly disappearing acappella hymns and spirituals found in this tiny Alabama hamlet. As the recording day would come to a close, an evening recording session with Lonnie Holley would begin. These were the first songs Holley would ever record using state of the art equipment. Prior to this session, the only recordings of Holley’s music were homemade recordings. Working late into the night (over the course of almost a week), Holley recorded three complete tracks and parts of at least two others (which he has yet to return to).

During the recordings in Gee’s Bend, Holley played a variety of instruments, from keyboard and synthesizer to the pastor’s chair. It was a great time of experimentation for Holley and set the groundwork for the recordings that would come years later, many of which can be found on Just Before Music, Holley’s debut record with Dust-to-Digital, as well as his follow-up Keeping a Record of It.

Tracks 1 and 5 on Keeping a Record of It come from the 2006 recording sessions in Gee’s Bend, Alabama. The remaining tracks were recorded between 2010-2012 at Griffin Mastering Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. On March 12, 2011, Lonnie was joined in the studio by two of Atlanta’s most noted rock musicians – Cole Alexander from the Black Lips and Bradford Cox from Deerhunter. What ensued on that day set the tone for this album. The three musicians improvised and created several songs, two of which are included on Keeping a Record of It. It was a beautiful spring day in Atlanta, and Bradford insisted on recording as much music outdoors as possible. So the drums were set up outside, and during the improvisational takes Cole and Lonnie took to using some of the tools outside the studio as percussive devices.

Lonnie’s artist statement about the record:

“Where does a bird go in the midst of a storm? I ask that because of my life and how I had to live – what I went through before being an artist. I believe I was chosen to be an artist because I can take my life and tell somebody else about it. But where does a bird go in the midst of a storm? What happened to my mind during the time I was unconscious for three and a half months as a child?

I remember when we used to go to church they had testimony time — time to testify, time to tell the congregation what you had been through. You all are the congregation to me, y’all is the church. My whole life is my testimony, as are the works you’ve seen and heard and the works I’m continuing to do because I can’t stop.

I can’t stop, I can’t cut my mind off. I can’t walk away from what I do without worrying about it. I appreciate my talent and my skill. Some things I look back on make me get kind of moody and I cry a little bit and it makes me sad all over again. But I make art and I made this record because I think it’s important. It’s important for me to keep a record of my life.”

Tour Dates:

08/22 Las Vegas, NV – Hard Rock Live ^
08/23 Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom ^
08/26 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall ^
08/27 Sacramento, CA – Harlows ^ #
08/28 Arcata, CA – Humboldt State ^
09/04 Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom – Music Fest North West ^
09/07 Raleigh, NC – Stephenson Amphitheatre – Hopscotch Festival (Free afternoon show)
09/07 Raleigh, NC – Longview Center – Hopscotch Festival
10/03 Philadelphia, PA – First Unitarian Church *
10/04 Providence, RI – Columbus Theater *
10/05 Boston, MA – The Sinclair *
10/06 New York, NY – Webster Hall *
10/08 Ithaca, NY – The Haunt *
10/09 Pittsburgh, PA – Carnegie Lecture Hall (Chamber Music Hall) *
10/10 Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom *
10/11 Detroit, MI – Trinosophes *
10/17 & 10/18 Columbus, OH – Wexner Center

^ = w/ Deerhunter
* = w / Bill Callahan
# = w / Avey Tare’s Slasher Flick


dow, Friday, 30 August 2013 22:53 (nine years ago) link

Oops, sorry; left out the bio:

Lonnie Bradley Holley was born on February 10, 1950 in Birmingham, Alabama, the seventh of twenty-seven children. From the age of 5, Holley worked various jobs: picking up trash at a drive-in movie theatre, washing dishes, and cooking. He lived in a whiskey house, on the state fairgrounds, and in several foster homes. His early life was chaotic and Holley was never afforded the pleasure of a real childhood. Since 1979, Holley has devoted his life to the practice of improvisational creativity. His art and music, born out of struggle, hardship, but perhaps more importantly, out of furious curiosity and biological necessity, has manifested itself in drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, performance, and sound. Holley’s sculptures are constructed from found materials in the oldest tradition of African American sculpture. Objects, already imbued with cultural and artistic metaphor, are combined into narrative sculptures that commemorate places, people, and events. Holley did not start making and performing music in a studio nor does his creative process mirror that of the typical musician. His music and lyrics are improvised on the spot and morph and evolve with every event, concert, and recording. In Holley’s original art environment, he would construct and deconstruct his visual works, re-purposing their elements for new pieces. This often led to the transfer of individual narratives into the new work creating a cumulative composite image that has depth and purpose beyond its original singular meaning. The layers of sound in Holley’s music, likewise, are the result of decades of evolving experimentation.

dow, Friday, 30 August 2013 22:57 (nine years ago) link

the live show i saw was a mix of pure improv and comedic rambling; dude is pretty brilliant

YOU FOOLS PAY OVER $2.50 for a comic book (forksclovetofu), Friday, 30 August 2013 23:53 (nine years ago) link

Wanted to like the first album but those reeeally long tracks are endurance tests

Jimmywine Dyspeptic, Saturday, 31 August 2013 02:20 (nine years ago) link

five months pass...


The Sandman’s Garden: DVD
The Sandman’s Garden (directed by Arthur Crenshaw) examines the life and art of Lonnie Holley, a self-taught African-American artist and musician who was based in Birmingham, Alabama at the time this film was originally released (2005). “Watching this film, I felt myself becoming a better person as Lonnie seemed to take me by the hand into his personal creative world.” – Albert Maysles
Price: $20.00

Got my copy on the way now!

PSY talks The Nut Job (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 6 February 2014 19:39 (nine years ago) link

also, because it wasn't posted, big NYT profile:

PSY talks The Nut Job (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 6 February 2014 19:40 (nine years ago) link

i'll have to check out both the DVD and the nytimes profile, cool!

saw holley perform w/ bill callahan in the fall, it was pretty mesmerizing, i loved it.

marcos, Thursday, 6 February 2014 19:43 (nine years ago) link

NY audience seemed scared to laugh at his rambly sermonizing until he explicitly told them it was okay

PSY talks The Nut Job (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 6 February 2014 19:46 (nine years ago) link

one month passes...

with Arturo Lindsay in BK on April 15!!

We hugged with no names exchanged (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 3 April 2014 16:47 (eight years ago) link

'sandman' video was great and very illuminating.

dude is damaged from a very rough upbringing (regularly abused and neglected as a kid, was put into a coma for quite some time after being hit by a car) but is routing that damage into a purely creative life.

the thing to know about his albums is that they're recordings of primarily improvisational art; he doesn't play the albums live (or at least he doesn't based on the conversation i had with dust/digital guys a year ago). he just does whatever he's feeling.

We hugged with no names exchanged (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 3 April 2014 16:52 (eight years ago) link

saw him last night at Baby's All Right and he was amazing. Solid jazz drummer with him.
i gave him a cup at the end of the show and i got a hug. i heard from the drummer (who i subsequently facebook friended later on) that he was calling it the "big thumb cup" and integrated it into immediate found art with a discarded umbrella he found on the street. I'm part of a lonnie holley piece!

sitting on a claud all day gotta make your butt numb (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 16 April 2014 19:38 (eight years ago) link

er, i mean a cup i made. pottery.

sitting on a claud all day gotta make your butt numb (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 16 April 2014 19:39 (eight years ago) link


smhphony orchestra (crüt), Wednesday, 16 April 2014 19:40 (eight years ago) link

it's really the best news i've gotten today

sitting on a claud all day gotta make your butt numb (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 16 April 2014 19:40 (eight years ago) link

that's rad!

marcos, Wednesday, 16 April 2014 19:47 (eight years ago) link

i feel lucky to have seen holley perform, it was wonderful

marcos, Wednesday, 16 April 2014 19:48 (eight years ago) link

me too, i was totally inspired
i'm glad you gave him a cool mug!

Mayor Manuel (La Lechera), Wednesday, 16 April 2014 19:57 (eight years ago) link

he was awesome about it
it was a mug with a long handle and he dug it because he could get his thumb in there
dude has huge hands
so he gives me a hug and says "this is woooonnderful. you tell em on their facebooks i said" *massive grin, raises huge knobby thumb "THUMBS UP"

sitting on a claud all day gotta make your butt numb (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 16 April 2014 20:27 (eight years ago) link

i was telling a friend after that listening to lonnie is like listening to pharoah sanders as far as intensity and sheer OUT THERE-ness but far less taxing and difficult. there's something about his growly voice, the southern drawl, the stream of consciousness storyline, the amazing sense of timing to get LOUD and soft and pull within, the loopy melodies and all that sounds like home to me and i just fall directly into it. so so accessible and enjoyable.

sitting on a claud all day gotta make your butt numb (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 16 April 2014 20:31 (eight years ago) link

that's a great post and sentiment but I can't help but hang my head that many people link sanders is "taxing and difficult." sanders is JOYOUS, man.

espring (amateurist), Wednesday, 16 April 2014 20:51 (eight years ago) link

THINK sanders

espring (amateurist), Wednesday, 16 April 2014 20:51 (eight years ago) link

he is to me too but it doesn't come immediate and natural on a great many of his albums and i'm not ashamed to say it.

sitting on a claud all day gotta make your butt numb (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 16 April 2014 21:07 (eight years ago) link

and there's nothing wrong with being difficult! i'm sure some people would find lonnie difficult to get into a groove with. something about my body chemistry and upbringing make it easy and the occasional sanders recording hard.

sitting on a claud all day gotta make your butt numb (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 16 April 2014 21:09 (eight years ago) link

of course this is me flipping through digital sanders albums and finding lots of stuff that's equally joyous.
karma, thembi, most of the impulse stuff is all perfectly accessible. maybe i'm thinking of a later set of albums?
black unity, i remember that one's a bit hard. i dunno, maybe this is the universe telling me to revisit dude's discog.

sitting on a claud all day gotta make your butt numb (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 16 April 2014 21:11 (eight years ago) link

hold this space for a complete 360 in two weeks

sitting on a claud all day gotta make your butt numb (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 16 April 2014 21:11 (eight years ago) link

Black Unity is one of the more "intense" Sanders recs imo

sleeve, Wednesday, 16 April 2014 21:16 (eight years ago) link

have you heard izipho zam? (i think that's right) it's classic era groovy
man do i love pharaoh sanders and i guess lonnie holley has a bit of that
although his band when i saw him was the most subdued bunch of people i've ever seen

Mayor Manuel (La Lechera), Wednesday, 16 April 2014 21:27 (eight years ago) link

dunno that one. am currently spinning 'finest' and am managing pretty darn well

sitting on a claud all day gotta make your butt numb (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 16 April 2014 21:30 (eight years ago) link

maybe i haven't heard the right (wrong?) sanders records. but he has too much groove to be the kind of thing i think of as especially "difficult." maybe it's just taste/background.

espring (amateurist), Wednesday, 16 April 2014 21:46 (eight years ago) link

two years pass...

i finally bought those two dust-to-digital albums after first seeing him perform in 2013. he is wonderful.

I've read Ta-nehisi Coates. (marcos), Tuesday, 22 November 2016 15:22 (six years ago) link

one year passes...

he's got some new material out, including this slick video


apparently he's played shows with animal collective and seems to be finding a bigger audience

ogmor, Friday, 14 September 2018 18:23 (four years ago) link

Had this on loop for a while now and it gets more chilling with each listen. Very excited for the new album.

Fetchboy, Saturday, 15 September 2018 20:16 (four years ago) link

three months pass...

This album is great! Definitely one of the best things i've heard in the last year or more.

Hmmmmm (jamiesummerz), Thursday, 10 January 2019 17:38 (four years ago) link

i have to revisit it! listened once or so but didn't spend much more time than that. i love the previous two records, and his art

marcos, Thursday, 10 January 2019 17:48 (four years ago) link

yeah I really dig the new one, and I still haven't heard the older ones!

sleeve, Thursday, 10 January 2019 18:06 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

new ALBUM!!!!!!!!!!!!! going in.

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Friday, 3 July 2020 18:19 (two years ago) link

awesome, thanks

sleeve, Friday, 3 July 2020 18:22 (two years ago) link

oh fuck yeah, I love this guy's stuff so much

k*r*n koltrane (Simon H.), Friday, 3 July 2020 18:25 (two years ago) link

same. this popped out without me hearing anything about it!

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Friday, 3 July 2020 18:28 (two years ago) link


Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Friday, 3 July 2020 18:29 (two years ago) link

"we're beyond voodoo and hoodoo, we're in the realm of you do and i do"

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Friday, 3 July 2020 18:32 (two years ago) link

AND just found this bit of stealth promotion on Adult Swim's late night show "FishCenter"

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Friday, 3 July 2020 18:38 (two years ago) link

four months pass...

recently scored a used copy of the MITH 2xLP and I really think it's becoming one of my very favorite albums of the last decade

it bangs for thee (Simon H.), Monday, 9 November 2020 02:27 (two years ago) link

it's up there! "i woke up in a fucked up america" occurs to me every so often.

Four Seasons Total Manscaping (forksclovetofu), Monday, 9 November 2020 03:16 (two years ago) link

Yeah, and "Sometimes I Wanna Dance"--both of those are here, along w 2020 EP and remix:

dow, Monday, 9 November 2020 17:13 (two years ago) link

Streaming this Friday: https://bigearsfestival.org/lonnie-holley

Four Seasons Total Manscaping (forksclovetofu), Tuesday, 10 November 2020 17:02 (two years ago) link

four months pass...

early tracks from his collaboration with Matthew E White are very very promising; this is great

G.A.G.S. (Gophers Against Getting Stuffed) (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 10 March 2021 18:06 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

Just heard him talk after a listening session for his new album that Moor Mother, Michael Stipe, Bon Iver , and others guest on.

He will be presenting an art piece he made to Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson on Friday morning and then will perform from 4 to 4:30 et at the National Gallery of Art in DC tomorrow as part of a 2 to 4:30 program on Black folk art . It will be live and streamed


curmudgeon, Friday, 10 March 2023 03:22 (three weeks ago) link

What a harrowing childhood he had . He’s a survivor.

curmudgeon, Friday, 10 March 2023 13:02 (three weeks ago) link

New album is a Pitchfork best

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 15 March 2023 20:30 (two weeks ago) link

Need to listen to the new one. He's great, he was in town here a few weeks ago to open a gallery show ahead of Big Ears, which he's performing at. He's kind of become a Big Ears regular, he does lots of things including art programs. Always seems like just a super sweet guy.

Uuuuhhh yeah this is incredible. Like a modern day version of Tom Waits’ Bone Machine. This is gonna tear it up in the EOY list season

josh az (2011nostalgia), Saturday, 18 March 2023 23:33 (one week ago) link

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