published Friday, August 12th, 2011

Tennessee blues guitarist to shred at Ross’s Landing Saturday

IF YOU GO

What: Riverfront Nights concert featuring the Scott Holt Band.

When: 7 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Ross’s Landing, 100 Riverfront Parkway.

Admission: Free.

Phone: 756-2211.

Venue website: www.riverfrontnights.com.


Q&A

Q&A with Tennessee blues singer/songwriter Scott Holt


THE OPENER

Butch Ross is a local folk singer/songwriter and dulcimer player known for his unusual covers of rock classics by Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and others. For more information, visit his website at www.butchross.com.


AT THE SHOW

Dog owners attending Riverfront Nights are encouraged to bring their pooch to the Dog Pound, which is upstream from the concert staging area. There, an enclosed site will offer a watering station, concessions from Good Dog and an educational area featuring local pet stores and specialty shops. Chattanooga ReStore, a retail branch of Habitat for Humanity offering new and gently used home and building items, will also be on-site in the GreenSpaces booth.

When guitarist Scott Holt first met blues legend Buddy Guy in the dressing room of a Florida concert hall, he was so nervous he could barely stand up.

“My knees were knocking so loud I probably didn’t even have to hit the door,” Holt said, laughing, adding that he and Guy ended up casually jamming and talking about blues artists.

That meeting formed the seed of a friendship and decade-long performing partnership that Holt, now 40, said taught him everything he knows about being a musician.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think, ‘How would Buddy deal with this? What experience did I see him go through that’s like this?’ “ Holt said. “You can’t stand 6 feet away from a guy for 10 years and not be directly influenced by what he’s doing.

“It’s probably such a big influence that I don’t even realize it.”

Saturday, Holt will take the stage as the second headliner of the Riverfront Nights concert series. The show will be the latest in a professional career that started in 1989 when Guy asked Holt, then a fledgling guitarist from Columbia, Tenn., to join his band in Chicago.

Although he learned the blues trade from Guy, Holt said his first musical love was for the guitar work of Jimi Hendrix, whom he first heard when he was 18.

For a kid raised on a diet of country and gospel, it was an ear-opening experience, Holt said.

“The Jimi thing threw me for a loop,” he said. “I went home and said, ‘I’ve got to learn to play guitar. I need a Stratocaster, and it’s got to be white. I have to play like Jimi Hendrix.’ “

Holt eventually traced his interest in blues back to some of the genre’s founding artists, including Guitar Slim, Charley Patton and Robert Johnson. With Guy’s help, he honed his skills on the six-string and eventually split from his mentor to form his own band in 2000.

Despite his skills on the guitar, Holt said he has come to realize in recent years that with music, sometimes less is more. As a result, he has reined in his solos, favoring a measured approach over blistering speed.

Holt said he has also started emphasizing his own writing in the hopes of improving the world, one song at a time.

“I’m not trying to invent a new currency or try to figure out how to create hydroelectric energy,” he said. “I’m just trying to find a way to make my corner of the garden a little better.”

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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