Joe Holt
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Joe Holt

New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Folk Indie




"Write up in NPR"

After his first strum, Joe Holt looks up and takes a deep breath as if asking himself: "Am I really about to do this?"

The "this" in question would be tackling flooding in Asia, the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and mass shootings — all before satirically concluding that "nothing's as bad as it seems."

It's a tricky swirl to nail, but Holt masterfully finds the right balance to sustain an emotional arc. Heartfelt instead of preachy, it masquerades as a song about optimism, but it's actually a reckoning of privilege ("Everything fine's as it is / at least for you and me"), tied together with an affirmation that no, you're not crazy: "It's exactly as bad as it seems." - NPR All Songs Considered

"Five Rising Singer Songwriters"

Joe Holt – “As Bad As It Seems”
-The second time through this track, I shared it on my personal social media out of sheer love and fascination. The blend of politically-conscious folk rock and beautiful layered Beach Boys-esque harmonies is… well… delightful. It’s both an easy song to enjoy sonically, but a hard song to enjoy lyrically because it will make you confront a lot of national demons (if you are an American). - Ear to the Ground Music

"Singer-songwriter Joe Holt makes Palms debut on Saturday"

Up-and-coming singer-songwriter Joe Holt has already put the music world on notice, serving as an opener for international touring acts such as Davina and the Vagabonds and Parker Millsap.

Holt will make his debut at The Palms Playhouse, 13 Main St. in Winters, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19.

Born in the U.K. and now based in the United States, Holt creates music in the singer-songwriter tradition of eclectic topics and tones. Drawing mostly from a folk sound, Holt occasionally dips his toe into a more propulsive pop sound when the lyrics warrant it. His intricate guitar style and provocative storytelling combine to make a dynamic show.

Holt has released two albums and two EPs. His second full-length album, “The Person I Admire,” has received airplay on radio stations across the country since its May release, and charted at No. 3 at KMUD in Humboldt County.

Holt graduated from the Berklee College of Music in 2015, and has been building a following across the country since.

He has toured extensively, playing venues like Club Passim (Boston), the Hard Rock Cafe (Boston), Rockwood Music Hall (New York City), the Bluebird Cafe (Nashville), and the Whisky A Go Go (Los Angeles), and has received airplay on more than 60 radio stations internationally.

Indie Minded Magazine praised Holt as “a gifted young talent who is sure to leave his mark on the folk music scene.” Other credits include opening for nationally touring acts including Parker Millsap, Davina and the Vagabonds and Ian Fitzgerald, scoring the short film “The Race,” and driving 13,000 miles in a month.

Holt, who will perform solo on Saturday, will appear on KDVS’ Saturday Morning Folk Show earlier in the day.

Tickets are $15 and are available at Pacific Ace in Winters, Armadillo Music in Davis, Davids’ Broken Note in Woodland and at the door if not sold out.

For more information, visit and - The Davis Enterprise

"Song Premiere: "My Little Fight" - Joe Holt"

Creativity often emerges unexpectedly from mistakes and disappointments. “My Little Fight,” the latest single from English folk singer-songwriter and Berklee College of Music alum, Joe Holt, is the inspired result of several wrong turns.

When drummer and producer, Caleb Barnett, returned to New York to record Holt’s upcoming LP after a show in Mexico, he was missing his cymbals, which had been lost by the airline. To make do, Holt, Caleb, and his brother Ben created placeholder drums using low-quality MIDI instruments. However, after a small mistake quantizing these drums, Holt and the Barnett Brothers ended up with a grooving halftime beat, which ultimately became the driving force behind “My Little Fight.”

An airline’s blunder inspired Holt to ditch entirely the “train” beat he had planned to include throughout his album, moving away from predictable singer-songwriter tropes toward something more authentic and interesting.

The melody of the song was similarly born from disappointment. After driving nearly six hours from New York City to Williamsburg, Virginia for a show, Holt learned that his show had been cancelled due to bad weather. Only 25 minutes away from his destination, Holt was forced to turn around and head home. In order to kill time, he began to think through some melodies and recorded a voice memo of what would become the verse of “My Little Fight.” Before this aborted road trip, the song had what Holt described as a “really bad, ineffective melody.” Now, it is one of the song’s greatest strengths.

The song itself is a hopeful, yet self-deprecating, look inward at Holt’s struggle to identify with and love himself. Painfully aware of his own flaws and how his self-doubt harms his relationships with others, Holt searches throughout the song for assurance that he is not the same as he used to be, diagnosing his shortcomings in order to find a way to live up to his aspirations.

Simultaneously playful, insecure, and determined, Holt’s lyrics move from moments of existential self-doubt to confessions about his sub-par commitment to recycling, with vocals that bring to mind a younger version of fellow Englishman Guy Garvey of Elbow.

With “My Little Fight,” Holt provides a mature and conversational self-analysis while managing to keep things fun and not take himself too seriously. The result is an authentic and relatable piece of music that avoids the traps of cookie-cutter singer-songwriting.

Listen to “My Little Fight” below, and keep an eye out for Joe Holt’s upcoming album, tentatively titled The Person I Admire. - Sound of Boston

"Album Review - Joe Holt - Brighter Moons"

In the overcrowded landscape of modern folk music, acoustic guitar-toting singer/songwriters are a dime a dozen. Every now and then, there emerge troubadours the likes of Hozier, Ben Howard, or the Tallest Man On Earth who captivate audiences worldwide by tweaking and toying with the traditional folk formula just enough to stand out from the masses.Figures like Dylan and Guthrie, after all, have proven there is nothing quite like the intimate conversation between a storyteller and a lone guitar.

Berklee songwriting graduate Joe Holt, grew up in Worcester (no, not Woostah) England. After releasing an EP and some demo collections, he crowdfunded his debut full length Brighter Moons with resounding success. He raised over $12,000, including two $1,000 backers who received 90 minute concerts in the comfort of their own living rooms. One perk embodied Holt’s genuine sincerity and traditional sensibilities: handwritten thank-you letters “just like my dad always does.”

Brighter Moons reads like an actual short story, but it also lets the listener into the mind of a young man trying to find his folk footholds. From a basic backing band with delicately brushed snare drum to vibrant violin and cello accompaniments, it’s fascinating to hear Holt try a variety of styles from his musical wardrobe. It might seem overly ambitious, but luckily he sounds unwaveringly confident and comfortable no matter the arrangement.

The opening track, “Harness Kiss” is a playful yet heartbreaking tune with a sing-a-long chorus fit for an evening at the local pub. It’s clear from the get go that Holt put a great deal into crafting these songs, with evocative wordplay (“lips dipped in tarmac”) and vivid imagery like comparing himself to a screw buried in a wall.

While there are drums on most of the tracks, the rhythmic strums of the acoustic guitar actually play a bigger role. In “Sleeping Soundly,” Holt demonstrates his impressive use of gentle finger picking and plucking, whereas the declarative “No More” features heavy scratches to simulate a snapping snare. His rhythm-focused playing effectively injects some needed texture changes and dynamic swells.

“I’m Leaving You” is a sobering tale of loss and loneliness, as the lyrics touch on several tragic scenes from divorce to suicide. Holt’s velvety voice has just the right amount of grit; his cascading, bluesy vibratos are at their best on this track. The tune comes to a climax with an unexpected electric guitar solo. It’s the only time the distortion pedal gets cranked up on the record, but its brief appearance is quite effective in highlighting the building sorrow.

Brighter Moons keeps the listener hooked by furthering an underlying story, rather than wallowing in pity and victimhood like some modern folk-pop artists. The album contains a satisfying, although simplistic, story arc of redemption and rebuilding. The defiant song “No More” is the turning point where Holt ditches the backing band for a bit to declare his resilience. This track proves that he can hold his own with just a guitar and a microphone, as he belts out powerful lyrics like “peeling my pelt off until I’m raw.” The flitting, sunny solo at the end provides promise towards an unknown future.

In general though, Holt sounds his best with the backing upright bass and drums. The rhythm section really hits its stride with the melancholy “Man In My Mind”, a song composed with an odd meter counted in five (if you’re confused think Brubeck’s “Take Five”). The clicking sidestick of the drums moves the five beat groove along nicely and naturally. Most folk artists don’t even consider experimenting with less common time signatures, so this was certainly a risk worth taking.

Brighter Moons comes to a happy, thoughtful conclusion, with the author finding “a life redesigned” in the clever lyrical structure of “Again.” The final track, “Carry Me Along,” is an almost whopping seven minutes long, but it’s another risk that pays off for Holt. The first section contains a mid-tempo theme (“aging slowly, road below me, carry me along”) and then kicks into a catchy upbeat blues-rock theme of reckless abandon (“skinny dipping”, and “freshly stolen pizza parlor beer”). The celebration eventually settles, with Holt alone with his guitar, singing a tender callback to the early “again slowly” chorus.

Joe Holt’s debut full length may not be breaking into too much new territory musically, but it is without a doubt a finely crafted and composed labor of love that tells a relatable and uplifting story of pushing for a better future and towards brighter moons. - Sound of Boston

"Worcester, UK Based Joe Holt Releases Debut EP "Empty""

Hailing from Worcester, UK Joe Holt brings his talents full circle with his debut EP, “Empty”. Originally released back in March, the Berklee student is based from right here in Boston and is starting to leave an indelible impression with his raw, authentic voice bringing to mind influences a la Mumford & Sons with his own dynamic and unique vision for what path his musical direction should take, and is more than capable of handling his own with impeccable acoustic guitar skills displayed on record and on stage. I was enthralled with Joe's talents and the way he handled himself on record that gave him an opportunity to hone his musical charisma and make his presence known to the many onlookers that await in the distance.

To take a listen to “Empty”, you can find it on Bandcamp right over here and for more on Joe Holt, 'Like' him on Facebook here and visit his official website right here. - Music Box Pete

"Joe Holt Video "One Thing""

Joe Holt is a folk singer-songwriter originally from Worcester, UK, currently finishing a songwriting degree at Berklee College of Music. Known for his personal and intricately crafted lyrics and fingerpicking skills, Joe released his debut EP, “Empty,” last March, to strong reviews from local press. Following up that album, Joe released his first music video yesterday, promoting his new single “One Thing.” - Skope Magazine

"Joe Holt plays a CD release party at the Knick in support of ‘Brighter Moons’"

By Rick Koster

You hear the hooky melodies, clever acoustic guitar stylings and chord structures, and a heartfelt lyrical honesty – all of which ring certain familiar bells.
Ah, yes, it comes to you! The young artist is clearly British and enamored of classic UK influences like Richard Thompson, Bert Jansch, Al Stewart, Nick Drake and Mike Scott.
Truth told, though, while Joe Holt was born and lived the first five years of his life in England, his bio is pretty distinctly American. He grew up in the Mystic/Stonington area, attended boarding school in Maryland and, just a few weeks ago, graduated from the Berklee School of Music with a degree in songwriting.
"My musical influences aren't necessarily British," says the charming and self-effacing Holt, whose years in the States haven't yet erased the soft Bondsian accent. "Nick Drake is admittedly a huge influence, but I think a lot of the British touches in my music come from the classical side of things. I've grown up with a lot of classical music, and there's been an emphasis on writing for strings and the less traditional verse/chorus arrangements that are generally more typical of the British."
The fact that his mother, Alison, is a violin/viola instructor and his father, Simon, is director of the Salt Marsh Opera, might have a great deal to do with this type of educational background.
"My parents were very understanding and supportive," Holt says. "You hear a lot about kids who want to be musicians or painters or whatever, and there are pressures to maybe go a more traditional route. But I've been very lucky. My mom even plays on my new album."
Indeed, Holt will now transition from undergrad to professional musician in fine symbolic and literal fashion with the release of "Brighter Moons," his first full-length CD. In celebration, Holt will perform Friday in Westerly's Knickerbocker Café. While Holt has typically recorded and performed in a stripped down, acoustic fashion — as on his 2014 EP called "Empty" — he's bringing a band to the "Brighter Moons" party to replicate the fuller sounds of the album. Two Berklee pals, upright bassist Nate Sabat and drummer Caleb Barnett, provided the rhythm section and numerous other friends (and Mom) helped out with various overdub on "Moons," which was recorded at The Record Company in Boston.
"There weren't a lot of changes to my original arrangements," Holt says, "but we did do a lot of experimenting with instrumentation and sounds. We recorded live and did four takes of each song, so there's a lot of energy. On the other hand, if you're the sort that listens for mistakes on the guitar, well, you might hear me make a few."
In fact, the record sounds terrific and the performances are locked-in and spirited – and should sound particularly fine at the Knick.
"It'll be my first time to play with a full band in about three years, and it's also the first time I'll be headlining a show. I just graduated five weeks ago, so this is pretty liberating," Holt says.
He plans to stay in Boston and perform shows until the end of summer, when he'll move to New York and continue to expand a performance circuit that's already expanded through New England and includes one trip to the West Coast.
"It's hard not to feel pressure when you just get out of college," he says. "At the same time, it's sort of interesting to be a real human being instead of just a student. And I think I definitely learned a lot."
As a songwriting major, Holt wrote hundreds of tunes during his matriculation. "By the end, you're writing a song a week for each class, and the assignments get increasingly detailed and specific," he says. "You go from writing pop songs with just a verse and a chorus and basic instruction on how to come up with hooks and popular lyrics to stuff that's definitely less conventional. We even had to come up with a rap song from a provided backing track. I've got to say, that wasn't one of my strengths."
Holt also explains that he hasn't been very good at self-promotion but understands why such things are necessary.
"I actually funded the 'Brighter Moons' project through Kickstarter," he says, "and was overwhelmed by the help from friends and fans. But while it's an incredible resource, it's also a lot of work — in a good way. It makes you think why and how the music and the music business work — which is a viable thing to think about. I've always wished people would just sort of find out about my music somehow." He laughs. "So it's good to think about why anyone would want to help me out."

Joe Holt CD Release Party, 8:30 p.m. Friday, Knickerbocker Café, 35 Railroad Ave., Westerly; Ben Freiert opens; $10; (401) 315-5070. - The New London Day


STONINGTON — It will be another weekend full of music for the Holt family of Stonington which is nothing too unusual for the family full of musicians.
While Simon Holt, the artistic director and general manager of Stonington’s Salt Marsh Opera Company prepares for Sunday’s annual “Music at the Lighthouse,” his youngest son, Joe, an indie folk singer, is gearing up for his big CD release show at the Knickerbocker Café on Friday. Mom Alison is a violinist who watches over the opera company as office administrator. Oliver Holt, Simon and Alison’s oldest son, studied classical voice at NYU, and Simon’s folks (back in the midlands of Malvern, Worcestershire) were both organists.

Joe, who graduated from Berklee College of Music last month, is the 21-year-old youngest son of Simon and Alison Holt, a Pine Point School graduate, and a singer-songwriter with a rich, compelling voice. He also plays guitar — beautifully.
“Brighter Moons,” Joe’s first full length album, was produced by his dad, who is understandably proud.
“I’m also completely biased,” chuckled senior Holt, “and I am also very, very proud of what he’s done.”
“Each song is so different and has its own sort of pattern,” he continued, “there are twelve really different, really interesting songs and I like all of them.”
Likable songs they certainly are; from “Harness Kiss,” to “Carry me Along,” from “Sleeping Soundly,” to “Seeing You,” and the lovely “Again,” these are songs you’ll want to hear again and again.
Holt said he chose Berklee because it is one of the only schools to offer songwriting as a major. It was at Berklee that he met fellow musicians Nate Sabat and Caleb Barnett who will join him Friday night and who played for the album.
Holt, who was born in the U.K., moved to the states with his parents and brother when he was about five, and still speaks with a delightful British accent (“magically, it never disappeared,” he chuckles.)
He likes to say that his interest in songwriting began in fourth grade when his medieval fantasy “Akika Python,” won second place. His interest in guitar began after he learned piano, trombone, and saxophone. One day he picked up a guitar, “forgetting everything he had previously thought was cool.”
Speaking of cool, Joe has a favorite musical memory that he calls “the best school experience ever.” One day, he recalled, his music teacher (who happened to be his father) was late for class, something that never happened. While the class waited, wondering what could have happened to their teacher, in popped a Gene Simmons lookalike singing “Crazy, Crazy Nights.” It was his dad.
Joe wrote songs constantly throughout high school while studying music theory, composing psalm settings for the school choir, and performing in musicals.
At the end of his sophomore year, his song “Empty” received 500 plays in three days after he posted it on Reddit, and launched him into a spurt of songwriting that resulted in “Demos #2” and, eventually, the “Empty EP,” released in 2014. He followed up that release with performances at prestigious venues like New York’s The Bitter End and Rockwood Music Hall and Boston’s Hard Rock Cafe, Red Room and Middle East.
In the spring of 2014, he released an annual collection of home demos with the 6-song “Demos #3,” which he wrote, arranged, produced, engineered, mixed, mastered, and promoted.
“Brighter Moons,” for which he raised more than $12,000 through Kickstarter, features Sabat on upright bass and Barnett on drums, and percussion.
The album won’t officially go on sale until July 14, but early release copies will be available at the Knick on Friday.
Local favorite Ben Freiert with his heartfelt lyrics and soulful voice opens the show, which starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person. For information, call 401-315-5070. - The Westerly Sun

"Headwaters EP Review"

Originally hailing from the UK, singer-songwriter Joe Holt has had quite a year. Following graduation from Boston’s Berklee College of Music in 2015, Holt moved to NYC joining the legions of other musicians who flock there in pursuit of their dreams. Not one to sit idly by waiting for something to happen, Holt’s hustle, talent and sheer determination quickly secured him a 20 date tour of the East Coast in support of his first full-length release, “Brighter Moons.” Just months later, the prolific folk artist released his latest work, a four-track EP titled Headwaters.
Holt describes Headwaters as being about the transitions that take place as one enters adulthood. Whether it’s the freedom of being on your own or the complexity of relationships, accepting routine or looking to nature for inspiration, Holt’s deeply personal lyrics are a window into his attempts to discover what really matters. He eases us into his latest project with the relaxing, if not somewhat moody, opening title track, “Headwaters.” Utilizing the fingerpick style of guitar playing that pretty much defines folk music, Holt lulls listeners in before going on to sing about the necessity of maintaining your independence and being responsible for making things happen in life. “If you are a waterfall/I am the river below/Even though you made me roar/I made the current alone.” With engaging melodies and choir like backing vocals that enhance Holt’s sound, “Headwaters” is a warm welcome for all fans of the genre.

Holt then ups the tempo a bit on “A Stitch in Time,” a song about the need to find appreciation in a simpler life beyond the materialism that is prevalent in current society. With a vocal delivery that matches the freeing spirit of the lyrics, Holt sings ”And I long to be freed from industrial greed/The desperate drive to succeed/So I leave for the leaves…” Holt puts his musical growth on full display here with the addition of horns, specifically a trumpet, which helps to create the feeling of a pilgrimage back to nature before moving into the touching “You Fill Me Up.” Guest vocalist Kat Kennedy takes the lead on this one while Holt effectively picks up backing duty. They compliment each other nicely by creating a gentleness on this track that focuses on finding your person—someone who completes you and the difference that kind of solid relationship can have on a person’s life. “I was unfinished from the start/Til you penciled in the borders of my heart/You came in/Found my outline/And filled me up.” One of my favorites, “You Fill Me Up” could be meant for your platonic best friend just as easily as it could your significant other.

Headwaters wraps with Holt returning to lead vocals on the introspective, “I Have Enough.” Holt’s songwriting skills shine on this closing track as he exposes his own self-doubts questioning whether the pursuit of his passion is worth the inevitable sacrifices that are involved. The universality of this theme and lyrics such as “I’m disdaining every day/Doing work without expression for some uninspired pay…I feel tempted just to say ‘I’ve had enough.’” will allow most to relate to the days everyone has where they ask themselves what exactly it is they’re doing in life and why. “I Have Enough” successfully uses metaphors to contrast the good and the bad as it progresses naturally back to a place of confidence with Holt singing “If the world I build around us/Keeps the rain out while we rest/I’ll have enough.”

With his latest EP Headwaters, Holt takes listeners on his personal journey of self-discovery as he searches for what is important to him. Some people make music and some people are musicians. Holt is, without a doubt, a musician. A gifted young talent who is sure to leave his mark on the folk music scene, Holt is definitely one to keep on your radar.

Released earlier this year, the four track EP Headwaters, is available now. - Indie Minded

"The Best 2020 Tiny Desk Contest Entries We Saw This Week: Volume 2"

In this Tiny Desk Contest entry, three-time entrant Joe Holt continues to use his first-person perspective for good, placing his experience alongside the continuum of everyone he meets: careless pedestrians at the crosswalk; a man on the train asking for spare change; his fellow musicians trying to make it in the big city. Considering that last one, Holt explores the dichotomy built into the profession, where underneath the smiling selfies on musicians' Instagrams is the emotional labor of constantly marketing the self with the brittle hope of success. —Cyrena Touros - NPR


Tired of Trying - April 2022

It's What We Give EP - June 2020

A Bigger Fire - June 2019

Something Louder EP - March 2018

The Person I Admire - May 2017

Headwaters EP - March 2016

Brighter Moons - July 2015

Empty EP - March 2014

The Race: Official Motion Picture Soundtrack - August 2015

Demos #6 - August 2017

Demos #5 - August 2016

Demos #4 - August 2015

Demos #3 - May 2014

Demos #2 - May 2013

Demos #1 - May 2012



Joe Holt is a folk-rock singer/songwriter who graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2015.

Joe has released four EPs and three full length albums. He has toured around America for nearly a decade, playing venues like Club Passim (Boston), the Hard Rock Cafe (Boston), Rockwood Music Hall (NYC), The Bitter End (NYC), the Bluebird Cafe (Nashville), the Whisky A Go Go (Los Angeles), and has received airplay on over 60 radio stations internationally. After the moderate success of his early releases (and a successful Kickstarter in which he raised $13,000 for his debut album), Joe's 2017 full length album The Person I Admire charted nationally, notably #3 in Redway, CA. He has been named Artist of the Week at WERU (Bangor, ME) twice. The song As Bad as It Seems from Joe’s 2018 EP Something Louder - EP was featured on NPR's All Songs Considered blog in March 2018. The following full length album A Bigger Fire came out in June 2019, with an accompanying national tour alongside Austin Blair Campbell , and received placements in Spotify editorial playlists including Fresh Finds - Six Strings.

Joe's next EP "It's What We Give" was released on June 5th, 2020. The first single, People in New York, was featured with an accompanying live video on NPR in March 2020. A rumination on selfishness and emotional hardness in an unforgiving city, the song became Joe’s most successful single to date; NPR's Cyrena Touros writes in her feature, “Joe Holt continues to use his first person perspective for good." His highly anticipated new record “Tired of Trying” is currently being mastered, with an expected release in Spring 2022.

Indie Minded praised Joe as “a gifted young talent who is sure to leave his mark on the folk music scene.” Other credits include opening for nationally touring acts including Steve Forbert , Parker Millsap, Davina and The Vagabonds and Ian Fitzgerald, scoring the short film The Race, releasing music as Black Alder and driving 13,000 miles in a month.

Joe lives in New York City.

For booking requests please email Joe at or contact him via phone at 860 705 9811.

Band Members