OCEANEN | NOVEMBER 1 | 20.00
Describing Lonnie Holley’s path to international recognition as an artist and musician as crooked and full of hardship is to make an understatement. He was born the seventh of 27 siblings in Alabama during an era characterized by segregation laws and racism, where he was adopted by a woman who according to Holley’s words eventually traded him for a pint of whisky. He worked with everything from cleaning to digging tombs and picking cotton, was hit by a car and declared dead. He had a child at the age of 15, and he served time in a juvenile detention center. In the 70’s, he took his first steps in what would prove to be an extensive artist career, consisting of drawings, paintings and, in particular, sculptures made of plastic flowers, oil drums, a xerox machine and old shoes – discarded items telling stories from the backyard of the American Dream. The same theme makes up a red thread through his career as a musician, which started in 2012, when Lonnie Holley was 62 years old. “I Woke Up in a Fucked-Up America,” he sings in a trombone-saturated nightmare blues song on his latest album MITH. Lonnie Holley’s improvised singing and spoken word practice has kinship with Gil Scott Heron as well as Tom Waits, while his music evolves in layers from continuous experimentation: industrial blues meet dream pianos à la Harold Budd or Miles Davis In a Silent Way. The songs are constantly changing, every concert or recording is unique.