DIARY - 17 MAY 2004 - JOLIE HOLLAND
to be an angel, now I'm just like everybody else/ I left my wings in the
gutter and my halo's lost, dusty on a shelf" - Poor Girl's Blues
- Jolie Holland.
born country-blues singer Jolie Holland celebrated her 28th birthday in
San Francisco she had three musical saw players honouring her big day.
Holland was so impressed she hired Enzo Garcia to play on her second album
"At my birthday party I had three musical saw players playing Happy
Birthday in unison," Holland told Nu Country in a call from San Francisco.
"I didn't ask them to play or bring their musical saws. There are
a gazillion saw players in my scene, live right in middle of San Francisco."
hired a rural musician with an 1867 banjo.
"Keith Cary is an amazing musician, an instrument restorer,"
"He played his grandfather's banjo made in 1867. It has a low plunky
sound, really cool.
He also played mandolin and upright bass. Keith's a guy I know out in
the country, from this little bitty town up north - Winters, California.
He's fantastic. He has a band called the Joy Brothers - a hokum band.
He also played in a band with Robert Crum called the Cheap Suit Serenaders.
My boyfriend lived in Robert Crum's house so Keith played with Robert
Crum as well."
Holland plays guitar, piano an ukulele, Dave Mihaly drums and bells, Brian
Miller is on electric guitar, Asa Anderson is on trumpet and Paul Scriver
is on soprano saxophone.
She founded Canadian folk band, Be Good Tanyas after often travelling
from Texas to New Orleans as a teenager before settling in Vancouver.
But after writing and singing on their debut disc she left Vancouver for
San Francisco when she fell in love.
FRANCISCO - LOVE IN HER HAIR
I guess I did fall in love, I guess it's my job as a love song writer,"
Holland joked, "I have to fall in love all the time.'
And that was one of the reasons she left the Be Good Tanyas midstream.
Despite that Be Good Tanyas singer Samantha Parton shot the esoteric
front slick photo for Escondida.
actually took that last summer in Canada," Holland recalled,
"we see each other all the time.
I was the
original songwriter and I named the band. There was Trish and me. I wrote
half the songs."
One of those songs Littlest Bird was reprised on Holland's debut
solo disc Catalpa and was used in the Malcolm McDowell movie The
"It's also in a Hilary Duff movie," Holland revealed, "the
filmmakers were familiar with the song and wanted to use it. It's coming
out in about a year."
Holland captures the wanderlust of Dylan and peers in her oft-covered
"Well, I feel like an old hobo - I'm sad, lonesome and blue,"
she sings "I was fair as a summer's day/ Now the summer days are
through/ You pass through places/ And places pass through you/ But you
carry them with you on the soles of your travelling shoes."
The prolific writer also included an instrumental she wrote at the age
of six on her toy piano on Escondida.
"I was 15 when I started writing songs with words, pop songs,"
she said of a career that found much song inspiration from her time working
was working as a waitress in Howards Diner when I wrote Old Fashioned
Morphine," Holland recalled, "I also came up with arrangement
for Mad Tom on a waitress shift. I just kept it in my head. Most
of Catalpa was recorded right after a waitress shift."
Catalpa was compiled by a filmmaker friend and originally only intended
for sale at gigs and on her web page.
"I was offered $25,000 for the rights but I declined the offer,"
Holland said, "I'm glad I kept the rights."
But it was another bar where she sang and played piano that produced
her second album entree Sascha and other tunes.
Jolie Holland at age 14
in bars, that's a good part of being a musician," she added, "there's
a great bar in San Francisco that I really love, The Rites Spot. It's
like a home to me. I had a steady gig there for four years straight. I
had a band Little Boris & The Shoes and played in a lot of different
groups there and also as a solo artist."
It was where she gained inspiration for songs diverse as Goodbye California
and Black Stars.
"I used California as a metaphor for everywhere in that song,"
Holland says, "I can't imagine wanting to live anywhere else. It's
a song about my life and seeing something outside of it."
But it was a mentor - not a bar that inspired Poor Girl's Blues.
"I was out on the road on my own for the first time, I was into Bob
Dylan at the time," she said, "I can really hear Bob Dylan in
there. I was 20 when I left the south for good."
Holland plans an Australian tour in January after three tours of Europe
and the U.S. in 2004.
"I'm always writing, I've got a lot of songs, enough for a couple
of new albums," Holland says.
It's a long
journey for Holland whose two great uncles Bud & Bud - The Hooper
Twins - ran a Houston western swing club from the fifties that hosted
gigs by acts diverse as Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys, Cliff Bruner,
Johnny Bush and Willie Nelson.
"My great uncles had this western swing club," Holland recalled,
"my uncles played with Bob Wills. They weren't in his Playboys. They
played the club. I have seen photographs of them all on stage. Now they're
in their eighties and only play benefits for the volunteer fire department
and other worthy causes. Last time they had a 92 year-old piano player
who played with Bob and a 94-year old who gets up and sings."
That's roots music longevity - Texan style.
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