Sponsored harmonica player Tony Holiday hits Snake River in Keystone
IF YOU GO
What: Tony Holiday and the Velvetones
Where: Snake River Saloon, Keystone
When: Friday, Nov. 13, show starts at 9:30 p.m.
Tony Holiday recently made a name for himself in the music scene by earning a spot on the list as one of the top 25 up and coming harmonica players in the country, according to a survey on Blues Harmonica Player. That list was formed from interviewing Rick Estrin, Charlie Musslewhite, Brandon Santini and other pro players, all of whom Holiday looks up to as musicians. The accolade means a lot to the lead member of Tony Holiday and the Velvetones, especially since he only jumped on the harmonica five years ago, and just in the last few years began playing it full time with the band.
“It felt really good because a lot of hard work paid off,” he said. “That was a big deal for me.”
Tony Holiday and the Velvetones will play the Snake River Saloon in Keystone on Friday, Nov. 13; show starts at 9:30 p.m.
Holiday describes the band as funk/jump blues, led by himself on electric harmonica and vocals, with guitar, bass and drums. Based in Utah, the band has been touring seven to eight months a year for the last four years all throughout the country. He said his guitar player is a 21-year-old prodigy named Stringbean.
“He’s an amazing guitar player — he will go very far,” he said.
Holiday said he is the youngest person in Utah to ever be professionally sponsored on harmonica, endorsed by Seydel Harmonicas, Shaker Harmonica Mics and Lone Wolf Pedals.
“Seydel is the Cadillac of harmonicas — they have the best harmonicas in the world,” he said.
He said the sponsorship allows him to get new harmonicas at a discount, and he gets to be on their website with all of his heroes.
“They help me out a lot, in a lot of ways,” he said.
He has opened for names like Jimmy Vaughan, Blind Boys of Alabama and Andy Frasco. In his early years, he remembers getting into Stevie Wonder at age 7, and his mother put a guitar in his hand at the age of 16, giving him the opportunity to start creating his own music. He has been writing and playing music ever since.
Before fronting Tony Holiday and the Velvetones, he was the guitar player in a band with Talia Keys. His music and lyrics reflect his appreciation of women, he said.
“I sing about — I’m married, and my wife’s pregnant — I really sing about women,” he said. “I sing about the joy of women — all sorts of different kinds of women, big women, little women. … I also sing about hard times, my own hard times, but basically just women — women make the world go round.”
One of his best anecdotes from on the road involves a previous drummer, whom he described as “Ernest goes on tour.” Multiple fist fights with the musician has led to the right side of Holiday’s face being numb for the last two years.
“He’s the type of guy who, when you tell him not to bring a lot of stuff on tour, he shows up with two motorcycles and a gorilla suit he never wore,” he said.
Once, when the band was staying at a friend of Holiday’s, the drummer forgot something as they were leaving the house. He ran back to the house, full blast, straight through the glass door, completely shattering it.
“I never went back there,” Holiday admitted.
NE NEED TO RUSH IT
Holiday’s new album, “No Need to Rush It,” was named by Guitar Shorty, a well-known American blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. It made the top 25 in America on the blues charts for a couple weeks, and is his first harmonica album.
This won’t be Holiday’s first time at the Snake, although he said he still has yet to try getting on the mountain.
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