Malcolm Holcombe

December 23, 2007

mguitar.jpgWe had the good fortune to hear Malcolm Holcombe when we were in Louisville this October. He had stopped at Air Devils Inn on his way through to Chicago. I say good fortune because had we not been sent that way we would have missed what turned out to be the highlight of our trip.

His appearance was much like this picture. As we settled in he traded jabs with someone at the bar, and at the same time recognized familiar faces seated in the chairs around us. The room calmed as he began to play and before long we were drawn in. It’s hard to describe the way he played his guitar. He grabbed the strings and pulled hard on the notes, knowing their response would accentuate his vocals rather than accompany them. Although you can detect this in his recordings, it is prevalent in his live show. His voice was ragged and true as the day is long. You could hear the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in his words. Nothing else would do justice to the stories he weaves. The chair he sat in became an extension of his persona and at times he balanced on the legs as he leaned into a particularly passionate part of a composition. I often found myself following in kind, taking part in the movement of his music, which was him.

We recognized Malcolm Holcombe from Marvelene’s Kitchen, a song included on the CD Jelly Roll Johnson and a Few Close Friends, but he has flown under our radar in years since. Shame on us. He has a wealth of recordings dating back to a now out of print release in 1985. Following the show we purchased Not Forgotten and I Never Heard you Knockin’, both of which would have grooves warn into them by now had they been vinyl. Wager, released October 9th, is on my Christmas wish list and Gamblin’ House will be released January 15, 2008. Judging by the samples on his website, and from what I have heard on XM, they will become favorites also. He has a cut on Song of America, a compilation CD released in September, that will be distributed in public schools, and is also available here.

06.jpgDuring a break I felt the presence of someone moving toward our table and looked up to see Malcolm. We visited a bit and then he thanked us for coming out. Although the people whose music we follow tend to be approachable and friendly, this was a little extraordinary.

But then so is Malcolm Holcombe.

Listen to Goin’ Home
Not Forgotten, 2006, Gypsy Eyes Music


One Response to “Malcolm Holcombe”

  1. His voice and singing style are similar to Kris Kristofferson. Beautiful guitar on “Goin’ Home”.

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