Holt plucks his way towards Ashe
by James Howell
Four-time Grammy Award winner David Holt is a musician, storyteller, historian, television host and entertainer, reminisced about his musical journey leading up to his 7:30 p.m. concert on April 12, at the Ashe Civic Center.
Holt said he was looking forward to visiting Ashe County because the roots of the mountain music he plays was seeded in the High Country. That being the case, the Ashe County audience has a deeper respect for the tradition of mountain music.
“I always love playing for people who know what the music is about. When I play in a place like West Jefferson, I know the audience understands the music I’m playing,” said Holt.
“I go to a place like California, and the audience enjoys it because it’s good music, but they don’t have an appreciation for what the tradition of that kind of music like North Carolinians do.”
Holt talked about his experiences playing with local music legend Doc Watson.
“I played with Doc Watson for the last 14 years of his life,” said Holt. “I admired him in so many ways. As a musician, he was a consummate guitar player and singer, and as a person, Doc was a great man.”
“At his core he was something special,” said Holt. “I try to carry on what I learned from him.”
Holt said the main thing he learned from Watson during their time together was how to integrate both old and new songs into a unique performance.
“He could make an old song sound new and a new song sound old,” said Holt about Watson.
According to Holt, a key element in mixing old and new songs is being able to read the audience and adapt to their likes and dislikes during a performance.
“I feel like that’s one of my skills, reading the audience and the energy in the room,” said Holt.
Holt’s performance on Friday won’t be the last time he visits the High Country this season. Holt is also scheduled to play at Merlefest at the Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro. Holt said he enjoys playing at Merlefest.
“A lot of great people come to Merlefest,” said Holt. He called the Merlefest audience very “interested and aware” of the music being played on stage.
Holt also said he likes being with his fellow musicians.
“I get a chance to see my buddies I don’t get to see all the time, and I get to play with people I don’t usually have a chance to play with,” said Holt.
Also, Holt said being on the road so often means he doesn’t get a chance to hear as much live music as he would like, and Merlefest is an opportunity for him to slow down and enjoy other artists’ music.
During his interview, Holt talked about his time on the set of the comedy film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” where he had and opportunity to meet actors George Clooney and Holly Hunter.
While shooting the mob scene where George “Babyface” Nelson is about to be electrocuted, Holt said he played music and shared stories with many of the cast members during the scene’s “down time.”
During his performance on April 12, Holt will be accompanied by Josh Goforth, who Holt has known since he was 14.
“I’m really looking forward to the show,” said Holt.
Tickets are $15 adults and $5 students and are available at the Ashe Arts Center or by phone with a credit card at 336-846-ARTS.
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