Salt Lake City’s blues combo Tony Holiday and the Velvetones is hitting all 50 states in 2018, promoting their new self-titled album and single “Payin’ Rent on a Broken Home,” and producing an ongoing project, “Tony Holiday’s Front Porch Sessions.”
Holiday and his guitarist, Landon Stone, have been going from porch to porch and coast to coast recording with notable blues musicians such as Charlie Musselwhite, John Primer and Kid Anderson.
“We are very excited to play Moab again. We’ve played Woody’s, Club Rio and Moab Pride Fest, and Moab has always provided a special energy for us over the years. Although our Moab stops are sparse, the experiences there are never forgotten,” Tony Holiday said.
On Friday, May 25, the rising act will hit Moab’s Blu Bar inside the Blu Pig, located at 811 S. Main St.
Moab musician Jon Olschewski of Stonefed said show goers can expect a tight show.
“[Tony Holiday brings] a lot of that jump — good upbeat blues — and a taste of some funk blues,” he said. “His guitar player is another contemporary in the blues scene: a young, but incredibly talented, musician. He nails the blues sound, it’s very authentic.”
Olschewski first met Holiday back in 2005, during the days of Desert Rocks, an annual music festival in south Moab for several years.
“He’s a hard worker. He has turned into this amazing harmonica player,” Olschewski said. “If he’s ever free, which is rare, when [Stonefed plays] in Salt Lake City, we try to pull him up [on stage] to play harmonica with us.”
Olschewski said Holiday was well known in the music scene as a guitar player until one day he started playing harmonica.
“He just came out and wowed people,” Olschewski said.
Stone remembers when Holiday put down his guitar and gave everything to vocals and harmonica. It was when Stone turned 21, in 2014, that Holiday tagged him in. He has been the sole guitarist for the act since, and hasn’t missed a single show.
Stone said Holiday has taken him on 12 tours, this tour being the thirteenth. The combo has played coast to coast in the United States, as well as across Europe, in the Netherlands and Germany.
They’re ready to return to Moab.
“I love Moab, it’s probably my favorite part of Utah,” said Stone. “I love the mountains, but I am a desert child.”
Stone said he is proud of the work the band put into the new album, and looks forward to sharing it with Moab’s music-lovers.
“We recorded it with Kid Anderson of Greaseland Records in San Jose, California,” he said. “Kid Anderson is one of a few prominent and reputable blues producers and recorders; he is a blues player himself. In my opinion, what Dr. Dre is to producing hip hop, he is to producing blues.”
Tripp Hopkins, treasurer of the Utah Blues Society, said Holiday has been instrumental in one of the biggest agendas of the blues, which is keeping it alive.
Hopkins is a member of the board of the National Blues Foundation, responsible for a national program known as “Blues in the Schools.”
“We teach them about the history of the blues, about slavery, the South, the evolution of music and the cultural story of how it has become the music we listen to now, whether you’re a rich kid or a poor kid,” Hopkins said. “Tony [Holiday] has been instrumental in the program in Utah. He goes into eighth grade classes and talks about the history of blues and gives them harmonicas. He helps teach them how to play some blues licks. That’s one thing I think people should know, besides that he is a great musician — he believes in the blues and in kids.”
Hopkins said Holiday’s dedication to his work has launched him into the ranks with up-and-coming national harp players.
“From a professional standpoint, I’m down here in Memphis with some of the best harp players. Tony knows all these guys,” said Hopkins. “They’re having him open up for their shows and Tony has younger up-and-coming musicians open up for him, so he gets it.”
Listeners can find “Payin’ Rent on a Broken Home,” on Spotify, or find out more information by visiting facebook.com/tonyholidaymusic.
Regional blues combo is on the rise
“He nails the blues sound, it’s very authentic.”
When: Friday, May 25
Where: Blu Pig, 811 S. Main St.
Cost: Free; ages 21 and over