Tony Holiday

Motel Mississippi
Tony Holiday

Following his two volumes of Porch Sessions collaborations with artists Lurrie Bell, Bobby Rush, Charlie Musselwhite, and the two Kids – Ramos and Andersen – the Memphis-based Holiday presents a fully realized, intriguing collection of originals.

Coming up with new blues material is one of the hardest things to do, but like better-known songs by Robert Cray and Stevie Ray Vaughan, there’s no doubt about Holiday’s blues credentials. But, he isn’t tied to 12-bar changes.

Holiday’s singing and harmonica playing are top-drawer, and benefit from excellent production by A.J. Fullerton and Dave Gross, who also share guitar duties on rhythm and lead, respectively. Engineer Kevin Houston also merits a shout-out.

On Paul “Wine” Jones’ one-chord mantra “Rob and Steal,” Gross comes close to Clapton’s “woman tone” and colors outside the lines with impressive results. On “Just As Gone,” Mississippi six-stringer Aubrey McCrady joins in on slide. “Yazoo River” features “double harmonica” by Holiday and Jake Friel, and “Trouble” borrows the riff from Muddy Waters’ “I Live The Life I Love,” but has a twist with Gross’ out-there lines on wah pedal.

It’s early yet, but this has to be one of the best blues albums of the year.

This article originally appeared in VG’s July 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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