Press Release for Malcolm Holcombe 5/4/13 Show

Flying Cat Music is honored to present Malcolm Holcombe in concert. He will be performing at the Empire State Railway Museum on Saturday, May 4, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 advance or $18 at the door. For information and reservations email or call 845-688-9453. The museum is located at 70 Lower High Street in Phoenicia, New York.

When popular music sounds derivative, it is easy to rattle off comparisons. Websites are dedicated to that premise. If you like John Denver, one suggests, you will also like Neil Diamond. Nothing wrong with that, it may be true. If you enjoy tacos, chances are you like burritos. But it all breaks down with a musician like Malcolm Holcombe whose unique work vibrates with wildly disparate echoes reminiscent of divergent greats. What do Johnny Cash, Neil Young and Tom Waits have in common? Whatever that is, you’ll hear it in Holcombe and, most likely, feel it in your bones as well. Intensity is a virtue not lost on Malcolm Holcombe.

Malcolm Holcombe was born in the mountains of North Carolina, not that far from where he lives today. His journey through life has not been placid, as this review by Jack Silverman from the Nashville View of a 2011 performance suggests:

“I first saw Holcombe play in 1997, and was absolutely stunned – never before had I been so blown away by one man and an acoustic guitar. But his weakness for booze and other excesses was glaringly evident . . . He appeared so near the precipice, in fact, that it seemed inconceivable that he’d be breathing, let alone putting out great records, fourteen years later. But here it is 2011, and Holcombe has somehow managed to steer back onto the long, lonesome highway . . . his unorthodox finger picking, singular songwriting style and unearthly voice are as spellbinding as ever – he’s like a grizzled backwoods mystic.”

Malcolm Holcombe pens songs primal to his world but, in reaching deep, they brush the universal. And Holcombe never pulls punches in damning society’s greed. His muse is not one to lure him to money or to achieving commercial success. “Malcolm doesn’t have a commercial bone in his body,” says his current producer, five time Grammy award winner Ray Kennedy. In the same 2008 Wall Street Journal story cited above, the writer asked Malcolm if he had a day job to help with the bills, to which Holcombe responded, “I work around the house but as far as an income goes, yeah, it’s music. The bottom can drop out any time. I can get a job mixing cement for ten bucks an hour. That’s good money.” This from a man who Lucinda Williams — a three time Grammy winner singer songwriter and fifteen time nominee herself – calls one of her favorite songwriters; proclaiming, “From the first note I was drawn in. Malcolm Holcombe is an old soul and modern day blues poet. He is a rare find.”

Introducing an interview with Malcolm Holcombe, published online at “Ninety-Nine,” Michael Clark sums up Holcombe’s standing in contemporary roots music well:

“All you need to know, though, about Holcombe’s actual status is this: Darrell Scott and Steve Earle, two of America’s finest songwriters, musicians and performers, showed up to support Malcolm on his independent release, Down the River. (his current CD) In addition, one of the greats, Ray Kennedy, sat behind the board as producer while Malcolm worked his magic on eleven new tunes. On top of that, Emmylou Harris made a guest appearance on one of the album’s sweetest gems, In Your Mercy.

Yeah, he may not be a household name. But among the best writers and performers in the country – in the world, most probably – he has earned respect.”

It will be hard for Malcolm Holcombe to remain below the radar for long with the type of loyalty his work is garnering from far better known peers in the music world. He may well be too iconoclastic to ever pack the largest venues, but the days of seeing Holcombe perform in as intimate a setting as Phoenicia’s Empire State Railway Museum likely are drawing to a close. Do not miss this show.

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