TRY TO BE READY Malcolm Holcombe

“We gotta get out there with a hoe”: the Appalachian
twanger keeps the burners going.

 

BY ANDY TENNILLE

 

“It certainly
doesn’t begin with me,” Malcolm Holcombe says. “It starts someplace bigger than
me, you know? Take that however you like. That’s up for grabs there. “

 

Despite having released five LPs and an EP-including 2007’s
fantastic Gamblin’ House- that have
earned him reams of critical praise, Malcolm Holcombe deflects credit for the
Appalachian folk blues music he’s played for the better part of the last twenty
years.  But when acknowledging the
inspiration behind For The Mission Baby, his
latest release on Echo Mountain Records, Holcombe is quick to pay credit where
credit is due.

 

“I watched that damn helicopter take off from the Capitol,
you can bet your sweet bippy on that,” he says, of former President George W.
Bush’s exit from office last January. “There are some people that don’t watch
television or listen to the radio. I’ve been through that phase, but I think
it’s my responsibility with a family to pay attention. Maybe I can muster up
some songs weighty enough to surpass my breathe along the way.”

 

The 12 songs Holcombe assembled for For The Mission Baby deal with
greed, poverty, corruption and war, modern day fables filtered through his
Everyman sensibilities. On “Doncha Miss That Water,” Holcombe references
Hurricane Katrina, with New Orleans native Mary Gauthier providing beautiful
vocal accompaniment. (“Her soul just bled all over that tune,” he says.)
Perhaps the biggest influence on For The
Mission Baby
are the contributions from multi-instrumentalist Tim O’Brien,
whose diverse talents Holcombe foresaw when writing for the album.

 

“I thought his playing would be very in keeping with the
songs, but I didn’t know Tim,” he recalls. 
“I asked Ray [Kennedy, the album’s producer] if he thought Tim might
like to pick and sing some on this and he told me to give him a call. Next
thing I know, Tim’s knocking on the door with a slew of instruments. His spirit
is as much a part of these songs as anything else was at their birth.”

 

For the second record in a row, Holcombe worked with Grammy-winning
Kennedy (Steve Earle, Waylon Jennings, David Allen Coe), whose recording
approach is conducive to Holcombe’s relaxed, down-home demeanor.

 

“Ray’s got the patience of Job and is totally consumed with
bringing out the best in the songs,” he says. “We both like keeping all the
burners going on the stove.e’ He’s a pa
The good Lord will give us the rain and the sunshine, but man, we gotta get out
there with a hoe. When it comes, I try to be ready.”

 

Upcoming concerts for
Holcombe include:

 

Oct 30 2009  12:00P

            WDVX Blue
Plate Special      Knoxville, Tennessee

Nov 7 2009    8:00P

            Time Warp
Tea Room          Knoxville, Tennessee

Nov 13 2009 8:00P

            FBISC- @
Pirate’s Cove         Elberta, Alabama

Nov 14 2009 4:00P

            FBISC @
Pirate’s Cove          Elberta, Alabama

Nov 21 2009 8:00P

            Ashland Coffee and Tea       Ashland, Virginia

Nov 25 2009 7:00P

            Tennessee
Shines live from The Bijou       Knoxville,
Tennessee

Nov 27 2009 10:00P

            The Nu-Way
Lounge            Spartanburg, South Carolina

Nov 28 2009 8:00P

            The
Sentient Bean     Savannah, Georgia

Nov 30 2009 9:30P

            White Water
Tavern             Little Rock, Arkansas

Dec 2 2009    8:00P

            The Blue
Door           Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Dec 3 2009    8:00P

            AllGood
Cafe Dallas, Texas

Dec 5 2009    9:00P

            ListeningRoom
at NiaMoves            Houston, Texas

Dec 6 2009    8:00P

            Continental
Club Gallery      Austin, Texas

Dec 10 2009 8:00P

            641 RPM        Boone, North Carolina

Dec 18 2009 8:00P

            The Blue
Moose        Morgantown, West Virginia

Dec 19 2009 8:30P

            The Garage    Winston-Salem,
North Carolina

           

 

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