"David, did you write a song today?"
Whenever Johnny Cash would come around to visit the band working with his stepdaughter, Carlene Carter, that's the question The Man In Black would pose to lead guitarist David Holt. He never asked the other band members. Cash must have seen something in the young West Texas guitar hotrod, because even though David hired on to play lead guitar for Carlene, he'd always been writing on the side, trying to maintain the discipline Johnny Cash knew was the path to great songwriting.
Over a decade down the road, David Holt has finally got around to doing something about it, combining his surprisingly seasoned songwriting skills with his trademark blazing twang to roll out PERPETUAL MOTION, an eye-opening, ear-pleasing collection of songs 25 years in the making.
Born in Dallas, raised in Lubbock, and nurtured in Austin, David Holt came into the rock and roll game with all the right genes. He quickly earned his spurs as a guitarslinger and relentless road dog including extended stints with Jesse Taylor, Rosie Flores, Carlene Carter, Joe Ely, the Mavericks, and Bill Carter, and gigs with Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Lou Ann Barton, Billy Joe Shaver, the Sexton Brothers, and the Supernatural Family Band. "There were a lot of years that I was home no more than a week or ten days," he says.
Each and ever stop along the way has rubbed off.
"With Jesse, I was learning Freddie King. When I started playing with Rosie Flores, I learned Pete Anderson's parts. My first gig with Carlene Carter was the Grand Ole Opry, it was all about figuring out Albert Lee and James Burton. With Joe Ely, I had to learn David Grissom and Jesse Taylor. When I played with Bill Carter & the Blame, I had to learn Stevie and Jimmie Vaughan."
Long time friends, Bill Carter and his wife, Ruth Ellsworth, (Stevie Ray Vaughan's collaborators) who have co-writing credits on a majority of the songs on the album, have long been a constant encouragement to David to write songs as often as possible.
While Bill and Ruth were an essential part of David's songwriting development, the rest comes from many years of lengthy tour schedules, as well as countless nights in Austin night clubs, such as blues empresario Clifford Antone's "Home of the Blues", where he witnessed living legends like Albert King, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, and Hubert Sumlin on a weekly basis.
From conversations with country music legend Merle Haggard on his tour bus to stage time with Bruce Springsteen in Dublin, Ireland while touring with Joe Ely, to face time with The Man in Black himself and the British pub rock hero Nick Lowe, Holt's influences read like a Who's Who of Hitmakers.
He finally bailed from the road grind five years ago following the breakup of Storyville, the hometown supergroup that included Stevie Vaughan's Double Trouble rhythm section and fellow hometown six-string fireball David Grissom, twice voted Austin's Band of the Year, as well as winning a slew of other music awards.
After adjusting to staying in one place for just a little while, he got busy building a band to record his songs. Bassist Mark Andes brought all the street cred a player ever needed with a resume that included stretches with the original Spirit, Jo Jo Gunne, Firefall, Heart, Stevie Nicks, Dan Fogelberg, and Joe Walsh. Drummer Tommy Taylor played on the first Austin single to go platinum, Christopher Cross' "Ride Like the Wind" and with guitar virtuoso Eric Johnson--artists with 7 Grammy awards between them. B-3 and Wurlitzer organist Spooner Oldham wrote or co-wrote several Southern soul classics, among them "I'm You're Puppet", "Sweet Inspiration", "It Tears Me Up" and "Cry Like A Baby". Tommy Spurlock, who has played with Rodney Crowell, Roseanne Cash, and Jon Wayne, added steel guitar fills. Austin originals Will Sexton and Kacy Crowley were recruited to add vocals.
He either wrote or co-wrote eight tunes and covered the Carter-Ellsworth composition "Roadblock" and Nick Lowe's "Fool Who Knows."
"I wanted to take all the different guitar styles and re-visit those influences of the past 25 years and melt it down onto one record. Think of it as a life's work in progress." David says.
Better yet, think of PERPETUAL MOTION as one of the finest Made-In-Austin recordings to blow out of the chute in a long, long time. Then quit thinking and get ready to rock.
JOE NICK PATOSKI