Chris Holcombe
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Chris Holcombe

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Band Pop Singer/Songwriter

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Dec
09
Chris Holcombe @ Stevie Ray's Blues Bar

Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Dec
04
Chris Holcombe @ Acoustic Coffeehouse

Johnson City, Tennessee, USA

Johnson City, Tennessee, USA

Oct
28
Chris Holcombe @ Greener Groundz

Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA

Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA

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First of all many thanks for allowing us to interview you. Can you introduce yourselves to our readers?

Thank you, Tom, for taking the time to interview me. My name is Chris Holcombe and I'm a singer/songwriter from the United States. I was born in Atlanta, GA and raised in Nashville, TN before moving to Boston to study at Berklee College of Music. For the past year, I've been out in Los Angeles, doing and learning as much as I can about the music industry. The kind of songs I write and perform is a hybrid of blues, soul, and folk. I'm a musical mutt, really.

I just finished recording a new 4-song EP called "The Trouble With Loving Hurricanes" which should be on iTunes Music Store and CDBaby sometime early summer. I highly recommend it. AND it's only five bucks. That's as cheap as a Starbucks latte, ladies and gentlemen.

How did the band form?

I grew up singing in classical choirs. By the time I was 16, I was performing in Carnegie Hall, which was a VERY cool experience. I was writing songs almost daily at that age too. It's actually amazing I've been doing music this long. Most other things I've done, I usually get to a certain point and it's like, "Aaaaand time to move on to something different." But somehow, singing and writing has stuck around.

Who are your main influences?

Motown is a big influence on me. Before I could drive, I had to listen to whatever my parents played in their car. And they loved Motown. So the Detroit mentality kind of seeped into my brain. They have upbeat melodies and upbeat music to disguise the depressing lyrics. Some of Motown's best songs are so sad, yet you don't know it because of the groove. "Tears of a Clown," "Tracks of My Tears," and "Just My Imagination" to name a few. My Dad also loved country and good country music tells stories with wonderful imagery. And the Blues. I love the blues.

Describe the first ever gig you did.

It was the Coffee Bean in Franklin, TN, which has since gone out of business. (Damn that Starbucks!) I was still in high school and I didn't know any musicians who would play for me. So I brought out my keyboard and accompanied myself. Oh it was awful! Truly awful. I fucked up chords, had to start songs over again two or three times. Needless to say, Billy Joel, I was DEFINITELY not.

If you could play with any other artist/band dead or alive who would it be and why?

Bonnie Raitt.....because she's Bonnie Raitt. Not only is she a fantastic guitar player, but I love her voice. She can convey carnal sexuality, hard-won wisdom, and heartbreaking sadness without breaking a sweat.

Whats the plans for the next 12 months then?

I plan on promoting the new EP to radio and internet radio. The single, "Mississippi Rain" has already been played a bit in the Netherlands and Denmark. Then rehearsals for live shows and then ultimately a whole lot of gigs. So far, the best reaction I've had to the new music has been from Europe. I would LOVE to perform there and I might be able to this fall. We'll see. Things change so fast in this industry that it's difficult to plan too far ahead in advance. But if the opportunity came up, I'm there.

Any festival gigs planned?

Nothing definite yet.

What are you currently listening to?

Pink's "I'm Not Dead." I love her. Anyone who can write a song called "U & Ur Hand" gets my love and admiration for eternity. Pop music is generally very boring over here in the States. Everyone's so concerned about offending someone else and earning the wrath of the FCC. (Our government agency that fines people for broadcasted obscenity.) But Pink...she says exactly what's on her mind, damn the consequences. And Lari White's "Green Eyed Soul." Such a great atmospheric record. "Eden Before The Fall" is one of the most evocative songs I've heard in a long time. And the girl can sing....good lord, can she ever.

Your tip for the future?

Anything goes. The future is whatever we make it.

What advice would you give to any up and coming bands who are looking to break into the scene?

The industry is in the middle of growing pains. Some people want to hold onto the old business model, but many are embracing new ways to make, record, and promote music. Find those people and work with them. You will not only learn so much, but your career just might take off from the relationships you make. Also, find what you do well and perfect it. Don't worry about what's selling or what the labels are looking for. If you try to be something you're not, your music will be disingenuous and that defeats the whole purpose. Keep at it and the world will come around to you sooner or later.

How do you go about writing your songs?

I generally start off with a title. I kick it around for a few days, see all the possibilities. Then I write a lyric and a melody. Very rarely do I write the music at the same time. Sometimes I do. But generally, the lyric and melody come first. Then I work in the music, adjusting everyth - Tom Fisher


There are times when I come across an artist that I do not wish to classify in a music group. Chris Holcombe is one of these artists. His music is unique but not so far-fetched that a person might not “get it.” “Mississippi Rain,” is a thought provoking tune that triggers my curiosity to the details of the story that’s behind this song. The lyrics are creative as Chris makes a comparison of his love for a woman to Mississippi rain. His vocals are simple yet strong, perfectly representing the wonderful melody.

http://http://www.musreview.com - The Music Review


Solid sounding, enjoyable song, with a nice bit of classic Soul flavor in the track a la Curtis Mayfield & Stax/Volt. The organ and electric guitar parts contributed to that aspect.

The smooth vocal and piano summoned more of a Bruce Hornsby feel, and the combination of those two flavors worked together well, making a pleasing hybrid. I did feel there could've been a little more spice/twist in the chordal department - the harmonic movement was a little too easy to predict. Song still built nicely, with effective dynamics.

I enjoyed the setup and delivery of the cafe/table cloth lines. Lyric flowed well throughout. Melody fell out of the singer's mouth easily and naturally. Strong job all around! - TAXI A&R


Chris' sound defies the fact that he is so young. It's a mature sound, vocally and lyrically.---Al Mann, Upbeat Radio
- Upbeat Radio


Infectious melodies and insightful lyrics. A damn fine songwriter.---Kristen Cothron, singer/songwriter

- CDBaby


Chris Holcombe played Edgehill Studios Cafe, solo on the keyboard. Then he met up with me at Criallo's Bistro and Bar in Cool Springs to discuss good beer and good music.

There's the tired old cliche of the starving artist. The actor or actress working as a waiter, or waitress, on Sunset Boulevard counting on their chance to be discovered while counting meager tips. In my hometown of Nashville, it's the same story, different details. Instead of the big movie role, it's the big record deal everyone's looking for. Instead of a photo resume, they all have guitars. Instead of Hollywood, it's Music Row.

You see the people coming to Nashville from all parts of the country and the world, working in the service industry at day, serenading the main strip at night, forever chasing the footpath of Patsy Cline or Johnny Cash. It's the romanticized saga of making it big in the entertainment industry.

Thing is, that's just a stereotype. Glamorized in movies like Nashville and Rockstar. In reality, the recording world, like most industries, is complex. And success as a musician can come from having some amount of business background, because just signing and singing doesn't cut it anymore. That's why when I asked Chris if he'd ever been approached by anyone offering a recording deal, his response was pretty simple. Why would you need one?

That kind of outlook may come off as rosy-eyed to some, but according to the book Appetite for Self-Destruction by Steve Knopper, it's not far off from the truth. As Chris sees it, by choosing not to pursue the old model that has made millions for a precious few, and crushed the dreams of millions of others, he is allowed the freedom to experiment and play freely. Although, he's not only in it for the thrill of playing on stage at a bar or cafe locally. As it happens, Chris previously contracted with a distribution company to have his music played in various settings where background music is needed, such as at a shopping mall in Europe. So somewhere in Germany, while browsing for jeans and tank-tops, German shoppers are treated to Mississippi Rain. It's glocalization in true form.

Self-reliance comes with it a price. The price of realism. Chris pays close attention to how his music is received on the other end of the lights. "People are pretty up front and honest. If they don't like a song or like an act, they will pretty much let you know. One thing I've always taken with me from the last ten years of performing is that if an audience doesn't respond to a song, I drop it from the set. And it doesn't matter if I loved the song, I could - this could be my opus, my Bohemian Rhapsody - and if no one claps then it's not reaching them."

Don't let the starkness of his assessment fool you, it still gets personal, and painful. "There was this one song, which I thought was a great song - I still think it's a great song. But I think it was just too dark that, in a smoky bar it's really hard to get those songs across, and get a positive reaction, cause they're already drinking. And lyrically I thought it was a great song. And I played it four times, and every time it was met with..." He does a slow, unenthusiastic clap. "Nothing. So I didn't know if people didn't know how to react, or if they just flat-out hated it. So I've since dropped it from the set. I may add it in if I feel a bit masochistic."

Chris described to me his method as workmanlike, disciplined. He doesn't like surprises on stage. He states firmly that if you haven't played the song in front of at least five people, then you don't know the song. He plans out his set lists and sticks to them. His classical background permits little in the way of improv. He considers himself the opposite of a jazz singer. Chris designs his songs architectually, and he almost always starts with a title or a refrain.

Consider his song Dirty Blood. He describes the evolution of the song: "That song has a multitude of inspirations, but I actually thought of the refrain line. And that came about when I had read an article which stated that the FDA had still not lifted a ban from accepting blood donations from homosexual men. It was a hold-over from the AIDS crisis of the late 80s and early 90s. And I just kind of thought it was an eye-opening article, to see that some stigmas still exist. And I just thought of the line instantaneously after I read the article. So that has a very direct inspiration. So I just kind of kept singing it around. And there are actually three versions of that song, and then it eventually settled on this story of a homeless man. One of the many that I used to see when I was living in Boston, Massachusetts." It was Chris' image of an outcast on the street which served to create the main character for the video of Dirty Blood.

Control is easy when you are soloing, but Chris is looking to do more band shows, and thereby willing to let go of control of the stage. Last Summer he played with a band at 3rd and - localsongwriters.com


Chris Holcombe’s website says the singer’s style makes you believe “a ‘Just My Imagination’ riff can support a Chet Baker-like voice singing songs of Southern love affairs.” Honing his skills in the songwriting capital of Nashville, Holcombe strives to meld the countrified rock of Patti Griffin with Al Green’s blessed soul. Holcombe thinks of his new album, The Trouble with Loving Hurricanes, as his interpretation of Green’s style, though he lovingly concedes Green owns the form in a way he never could. The Flanagan’s show sees Holcombe performing alongside Justin Lewis and Mindy Tolle. The first 20 who arrive will receive an autographed copy of Hurricanes. Good way to celebrate Hump Day, don’t you think? —Dennis O’Neil

source: http://events.leoweekly.com/?p=2326 - LeoWeekly


Discography

"Settin' The Moon On Fire" (2002)
"The Trouble With Loving Hurricanes" (2006)
"Sing Out Loud!" (2007) - compilation*

*all proceeds are donated to AIDS/HIV related charities.

Photos

Bio

It shouldn't work....

A young man with a notebook full of descriptive lyrics and a head full of melodies that combine blues, pop, and soul. A keen eye observing human behavior and emotion. A simple voice that roots out the subtle nuance of a phrase.

In today's pop climate, it shouldn't work. But Chris makes it work.

Chris Holcombe's gift is combining musical and lyrical elements that on the surface shouldn't co-exist. But in 3 and a half minutes, he can make you believe that a "Just My Imagination" groove can support a Chet Baker-like voice singing songs of southern love affairs. When he sings "Stormy hands and lightning eyes" from his song MISSISSIPPI RAIN, he sets the scene of a passionate romance that is soon going to spin out of control with hurricane force. "Running and smiling and drenched to the bone" indeed.

Nashville's The Music Review writers of Holcombe, "There are times when I come across an artist that I do not wish to classify in a music group. [He] is one of these artists."

The word "original" is over-used in the music world, but it aptly describes the music of Chris Holcombe.