CD reviews

David Holt, Let it Slide: Three Stars

Genre(s): Blues … sort of.

You’ll like it if: You don’t mind sunshine injected into your blues stompers.

Defining song: “Slow Food” — Co-written by Michael Reno Harrell and featuring a guest vocal by picking ambassador Doc Watson, this tune takes a humorous stand against fast food.

Four-time Grammy-winner David Holt has been a champion of old-time music for nearly four decades. A revivalist of the highest order, Holt has been responsible for helping rekindle Appalachian heritage by traveling to remote areas, like mountain-music-rich Sodom Laurel, and bringing back what he’s found to the masses. His new album, Let it Slide, takes the urban setting of the blues and gives it a sprinkle of rural Appalachia. Inspired by the tragic loss of his 10-year-old daughter, Sara Jane, to a car accident in 1989, Holt — an expert clawhammer banjo player — turned to the slide right after her death to bring him back from desolation. Sixteen years later, all the pain and grief has rendered an album that celebrates rather than mourns. Sam Bush guests on all the tracks, and other heavyweights include Byron House (bass) and the timeless Doc Watson (whose flatpicking takes over on “Steel Guitar Blues” and “Trouble in Mind”). Blues purists may take issue that despite the stylistic nods to the genre, the album itself is quite happy — sort of like a sunny salesman trying to pawn off a weathered Muddy Waters album. Still, Holt is a master of detail, and this release will stand up with his best recordings.

Show review

Toebox Trio at Bo Bo Gallery; Thursday, Oct. 27 and every other Thursday: Four Stars

Genre(s): Jazz

Be glad you stayed home if: You need the sort of comfortable jazz that resides in elevators.

Defining moment: When the band reinterpreted Charles Mingus’s “Fables of Faubus.” The trio tore through the number as if the late, fiery bassist was coaching from the sideline.

My curiosity was piqued when I learned that Ahleuchatistas’ guitarist, Shane Perlowin, was part of a jazz trio. As in his other band, the trio’s jazz numbers don’t stretch for marathon minutes — the structures are whittled into lengths that barely expand beyond pop standards. Upright-bass player Gaines Legare (whose channeling of Mingus will unhinge a gaping jaw) and drummer Jason Stallings create a rhythm so tight you could bounce a quarter off the sound. The beauty of Toebox is a young attitude meshed with the old daring (i.e. Charlie Parker and his many acolytes) that can still scare timid ears away.

[When he’s not bending readers to his will, Hunter Pope cooks, gardens, hikes and spends his mortgage money on CDs he’s never heard.]

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