Still Feeling Blue After All These Years
By Johnny Griffith
Edwin Holt caught a mad case of the blues about 30 years ago, and it hasn’t let go yet.
The East Texas native was a graduate of West Rusk where he spent most of his time around the band hall when he wasn’t at home listening to his father’s collection of 45’s to the tune of Sam Cooke, Little Milton, and the like.
After high school, Holt sought to spread his wings and ended up at The University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi. Here, he was exposed to music in a way he never had been before. Eventually finding his way to Dallas, Edwin would make his mark on the Blues Scene over the next several years playing with established acts.
After earning the respect of his peers through years of gigs, Holt was eventually asked to take over Johnnie Winters’ backing band after his death. Eventually Holt stepped away from touring to spend more time with family and focus more on his design firm right here in Tyler.
Fast forward to present day and Holt once again finds himself at the helm of a new group, The Red Clay Roadhouse, and this time the sound is probably the most unique blend he’s every been a part of. We caught up to the blues man recently to get to know him better and get the scoop on his latest project.
Johnny: You’ve been in music for a long time, at last count I’ve got you more than 30 years in the business, but let’s go back to the beginning. When did you first get the itch for music?
Edwin: The big “aha” moment for me was when two guys from Greenville, Mississippi would take me to see James Son Thomas perform in Oxford. James was the real deal, which would then turn into an introduction to the Mississippi Delta Blues Festival, an event that I attended for 13 years in a row and would finally headline three years in a row later on in life.
Johnny: East Texas has a deep, rich, musical history, but the blues has often taken a backseat to other genres. Mississippi, on the other hand, has the ghosts of blues legends around every corner. What was it that drew you into the blues when you went to Ole Miss and then later when you came back to TCU?
Edwin: I couldn’t get out of the music scene long enough to actually attend class, which dented my grades. Frustrated with my lack of academic progress, my parents would pull me out of Oxford (Mississippi) and place me at Kilgore Junior College until I could get my grades up to attend TCU, but Mississippi was the turning point for me in blues music. I think East Texas has nurtured a number of great musicians, but historically they left for bigger and better things. Freddie King, George Jones, etc…
As far as drawing me into the blues at TCU, I missed Mississippi, and so I went looking for what I missed and found it deep in the depths of South Dallas. An entire subculture of music that exists underneath all the glitz and glamor of Dallas. This is the real turning point where I decided to take the plunge and begin establishing myself as a musician and performer. I would soon join an all black blues band and tour every juke joint within Texas and even Oklahoma.
Johnny: Who were some of your early influences as you were getting your start in and around Oxford, Mississippi?
Edwin: Again, the main figure would be James Son Thomas, but that all changed as I began to progress within the urban areas of Dallas. There’s a transformation that the black blues world made from rural blues to soul blues. From the delta of Mississippi, I would soon evolve into the sounds of Johnnie Taylor, a much more soulful sound or slick blues as some folks refer to it.
Johnny: As you split time at TCU between class and a burgeoning musical career, how did your family react and were there ever any doubts in the early days that you’d made the wrong choice?
Edwin: I actually graduated from TCU with a degree in liberal arts, and I would go on splitting my time between a day job and a musical career; something that I still struggle with today. I tell people all the time that I don’t know if music is a temptation, a distraction, or an opportunity. I’ve done well with my career as a designer, but I’ve struggled all my life between two loves.
Johnny: Obviously history proved you made the right choice, finding success while becoming a regular in the blues scene and playing with some of the legends in the business. With so many memorable gigs with legends in the genre, are you able to pick one show that just stands above the rest?
Edwin: The best moments never happen on stage. Shows are calculated and rehearsed. There are moments that happen on stage that are special, but a true moment happens unrehearsed and by the seat of your pants. That moment for me was during a funeral. Mary Collier, or Lady Princess as she was known, passed away when I was in my thirties or so. She was a mainstay in the south Dallas blues scene and the greatest unknown vocalist you’ve never heard. We performed together for 10 years or so before she would finally pass away. Every well known south Dallas blues artist attended the funeral. We all sat on the back row. Ernie Johnson, R.L. Griffin, Tutu Jones, Big Charles Young, and myself. During the service, Johnnie Taylor entered from the side carrying a folding chair then placing it in the center aisle in front of God and everyone, unfolded it, and sat down. While whispers and gasps of surprise riddled through the crowd, the preacher asked if Mr. Taylor would like to come up and say a few words. Johnnie then stood up, took the mic and began to sing, requesting a male chorus from the back row. We all stood up, went to the front, and backed him up while he sang gospel. One of the most amazing moments of my life and completely unplanned. I’ll never forget it.
Johnny: Your career has had several twists and turns over the years, a major one of which was when the backing band for that very same Johnnie Taylor asked you to be the band leader after his death in 2000. Was that a call you were expecting and how did it feel to have to take on that mantle?
Edwin: It was a huge undertaking and meant a lot of rehearsals. I hate rehearsals. Horns, charts, timing had to be right on for all numbers. It’s a ton of work for a big band due to the number of moving parts, but the impact is over the top. Some of the best little moments of absolute bliss happen during solo horn parts with a powerhouse of players pushing sound forward.
Johnny: Musicians aren’t exactly famous for knowing when to walk away from a gig, especially a particularly sweet one, but you were able to successfully step away and focus that creative drive on your business for the sake of your family. When was the moment you knew it was time to come home?
Edwin: Like I said, the battle has never ended. I’ve been stepping back and forth over the line for thirty years. It’s a struggle I’m sure I’ll be dealing with until they put me in the ground.
Johnny: So as it turns out, music wasn’t done with you, and a few years later you find yourself once again at the head of another band. This time, however, the big band sound has been traded in for something completely different. How did the idea for the Red Clay Roadhouse Band come about, and who are the members?
Edwin: What’s interesting about this sound is that it showed up every year on a fishing trip. Each year, thirty close friends would leave the world behind and head to Uncertain, Texas for an annual fishing trip. I always had pickers show up, and we would jam around the campfire at night.
One year, my pickers out of Austin couldn’t make it so I pulled in Cadillac Sky out of Fort Worth. I became close to two of their members. Ross Holmes on fiddle and Matt Menefee on banjo. Ross would soon hit the big time touring with Mumford and Sons. Between gigs with Bruce Hornsby, he called me and wanted to know if we could do something between shows. I really didn’t know what we could do on stage, so I literally threw some songs on the table. Before we knew what was happening, a new sound was born in Tyler, Texas.
Johnny: The sound seems to me to be a unique blend of blues, bluegrass, roots, and Americana, thrown into a blender, mixed-up, and poured out on stage. How would you describe it?
Edwin: Yeah, that’s it all right. Hard to define whatever is coming out of that blender, but it sure tastes good.
Johnny: With genres like Rock and Country dominating the gig landscape in this area, how has the reception been to what the Red Clay Roadhouse Band brings to a show?
Edwin: That has been the most interesting piece to this new sound. Most, if not all, of my followers are from the ages of 45-75. They are people that grew up listening to real music and long for something that’s not made in a machine. I would like to think that we represent what’s right in the music world. Real music that pulls from the soul.
Johnny: What is on the horizon for Edwin Holt and the Red Clay Roadhouse Band for 2017?
Edwin: Ha! Who knows. I’m taking this whole thing one day at a time. I’ve been doing it for so long that I’ve given up the idea of becoming famous. I just do what I do because I love making music. And if I can make someone happy with what I do on stage, then I’m all the better for it.
Johnny: If I’m a new fan looking to go to my first Red Clay Roadhouse Band concert, what can I expect?
Edwin: Food for the soul, my brother. So I hope you’re hungry!
- May 27th: Bright Star Theater, Texarkana, Texas
- June 10th: Liberty Hall, Tyler, Texas
- September 23rd: Big Truck Theatre, Taylor, Mississippi
For more info about Edwin Holt and Red Clay Roadhouse go to redclayroadhouse.com or find them on Facebook.
October 13th, Award-Winning Band MercyMe in Concert
MercyMe Tenth “Avenue North” Concert Comes to The Oil Palace
Saturday, October 13th at 7:30pm, MercyMe will be in concert at The Oil Palace, located at 10408 Hwy. 64E, Tyler. Tickets range from $19-$89. Event parking is $10.
Since their debut in 2001, Grammy®-nominated, multiple American Music Award and Dove Award winners MercyMe have sold more than 8.5 million units in CD, single and DVD sales, garnered 27 No. 1 multi-format Christian radio singles and four consecutive mainstream radio hits with “I Can Only Imagine,” (No. 4 AC/Top 25 on Top 40/Hot AC), “Here With Me” (No. 4 AC), “Homesick” (Top 10 AC), and “So Long Self.” Their radio success has continued with recent singles “Flawless” (No. 1 for 15 weeks) and “Greater” (No. 1 for 16 weeks), landing them the Top Christian Airplay Artist spot on Billboard’s 2015 Year End charts.
MercyMe made history in 2014 as “I Can Only Imagine” surpassed 2 million digital downloads, making it the first song in Christian music to go platinum and double-platinum in the digital domain.
In 2009, Billboard named MercyMe’s “Word Of God Speak” the No. 1 Song of The Decade and the group the No. 1 Artist of the Decade in both the Christian Songs and Christian AC Songs categories, recognizing them as one of the industry’s most notable talents.
They have sold out venues throughout the US and Canada, including Radio City Music Hall, and have appeared on The Today Show, CBS This Morning, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Fox New Channel’s Fox & Friends, CNN, ABC News, and in the pages of Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, USA Today and more.
Their most recent project “MercyMe, It’s Christmas!” debuted atop the Billboard Top Holiday Albums chart and became an instant classic.
Their eighth studio release, “Welcome To The New,” garnered Billboard Music Award nominations in all three Christian categories and two Grammy® nods; the album is available in stores now.
This concert is a near sell-out. Get your tickets today!
Mark your Calendars, True Vine Brewing Celebrates Fall
This Month at True Vine Brewing Company
True Vine Brewing Company is located at 2453 Earl Campbell Parkway, Tyler, truevinebrewing.com, facebook.com/truevinebrewing. True Vine Brewing has a lot going on this month!
September 8th, October 13th, November 10th and December 8th (10-11am): Yoga and Beer at True Vine – Every second Saturday of the month, a beautiful yoga practice is held under the pavilion. Afterwards, you can enjoy a beer. Class and one beer is included in price of admission. Sola Bread pizza will be serving up breakfast pastries and lunch. This is a super fun way to spend a Saturday morning. Tickets are available at the door for $10.
September 15th, October 20th, November 17th and December 15th (10:30-11:30am): Barre & Brew with Studio B – Held the third Saturday of the month is this Barre + Brew class with Studio B Pilates+Barre! For just $10 at the door, you can enjoy this amazing class inside the brewery and enjoy a cold beer after. Barre classes mix elements of ballet at the barre and functional movements set to motivating music. You’ll use the barre, small balls, bands, and hand weights to work your entire body. Isometric training and small range of motion exercises along with planks, push-ups, and core-focused training will round out these energizing classes.
September 15th (7-10pm): 2018 Pine Curtain Gala – The Cancer Foundation for Life® will host the first annual Pine Curtain Gala and will include beer, food, fun, and live music by Edwin Holt’s Red Clay Roadhouse Band with special guest Henri Herbert, all to benefit the FitSteps for Life® program. FitSteps for Life® is designed to help strengthen cancer patients both physically and emotionally by providing support and empowerment in their cancer experience. As cancer treatment can be quite costly, FitSteps is provided free of charge to the patient eliminating cost as a barrier to exercise and the benefits of the program. Providing this free program takes resources that are utilized every year, and their commitment to cancer patients never ceases. Tickets are $35-$100 and available at cancerfoundationforlife.org.
October 13th (5-11pm): Hoptober Fest ‘18 – Details to come!
October 27th (8:30am): Mindfulness Triathlon – This is not your typical triathlon! The race begins with a 2-mile walk/run, transitions into a 45-minute yoga session by BeFree Yoga and finishes with a 20-minute meditation. After the race, enjoy a True Vine Beer and check out the amazing local vendors promoting health and wellness in Tyler. Register at getmeregistered.com/MindfulnessTriathlon. The Mindfulness Triathlon is designed to promote health, wellness, and healing by exploring alternative holistic treatments for anxiety and depression disorders. Running, yoga, and meditation are among the most popular natural treatments for depression and anxiety. Healing of the mind, body, and soul can be experienced through these practices.
Dubb And The Luv Machines: I’m a Musician Because It’s What I Love
By Johnny Griffith
When I’m searching for local musicians to interview every month I’ll browse through to see who’s playing where or if it’s someone I’ve heard before or I’ve had friends mention as someone worth hearing. Occasionally I’ll come across a band with a name that jumps off the screen and demands some attention.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dubb And The Luv Machines.
This is one of those bands I couldn’t help but smile over when I saw the name and decided they needed to be in this month’s issue. Then I listened to them and while the name might be catchy and silly, there is nothing silly about the talent The Luv Machines have on stage. Led by Dubb Williams, this band is built for the party bringing a great catalog of favorites, old and new alike, with the musical chops to leave any crowd wanting more.
I recently sat down with Mr. Luv Machine himself to get the story behind the band:
Johnny: Let’s start with a little background on yourself. Who is Dubb Williams?
Dubb: I’m originally from Sulphur Springs, Texas and I graduated from Saltillo High School in Saltillo, Texas. I completed my bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M – Commerce. I’ve moved all over Texas, and out of Texas, but I always found home to be Sulphur Springs. I’m married with four-legged fur kids and I work as a professional audio and video manufacturer’s representative to pay the bills. I’m a musician because it’s what I love to do but I’ve done everything from food service to repo man to Child Protective Services to owning my own production company. I’m a Jack of all trades, I guess.
Johnny: What was your first exposure to music that you can remember?
Dubb: That would have been riding in the car with my mom listening to her classic country tapes. It was all country from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The good stuff!
Johnny: When do you remember thinking that this was something you wanted to do more than just a side hustle or a hobby?
Dubb: Some friends and I put together a band for a youth group we all attended and the fire spread from there. We were just goofing around and then it kinda sounded ok, not great or even good, just ok. Then we started playing real shows outside of the youth group and it really took hold. I knew music was something I never wanted to give up. We played in other bands and spread our musical wings and it kept growing, there’s no end to the possibilities nor are there limits. I am just along for the ride no matter the destination.
Johnny: Who is in the current lineup to Dubb And The Luv Machines?
Dubb: Currently there are six Luv Machines, including myself. Jordan Owens on drums, Jacob Mazoch on lead guitar, Colton Smith on bass, Cody McDowell on keys, Kristen Richmond on vox and a mean tambourine, and myself on vox and pretend guitar. I don’t play all that great but I surround myself with incredible guys and a gal, to make me look good.
Johnny: How did you all meet?
Dubb: We have all been friends for years through other parts of life, and when I moved back to Sulphur Springs from OKC, I decided I wanted to put a band together. It just worked out that the current members Jacob, Jordan, and Colton were either on a break from other projects or in between projects. After that, the pieces just locked into place. The chemistry is great and being friends prior makes it easy to bust each others chops or provide constructive criticism, but honestly, we prefer busting chops!
About a year after we started the Luv Machines, Kristen approached me while I was visiting her family’s business and told me she was going to sing in our band. I welcomed her without an audition, shoot what band can’t use a good looking singer up front! It prompted some raised eyebrows from the guys, but then at her first practice with us, she opened the heavens by belting out a ballad and the rest is history. She fit right in, jumped on the bus with us, and never looked back.
Johnny: So what’s the story behind the name?
Dubb: It was actually a joke from my buddy Ryan W. He called me Big Dubb Luv and I would joke back about being a luv machine. When we started playing around town and East Texas, we figured we needed a name. It needed to be a name that was memorable and one that said we are here for a good time. So Dubb Luv became Dubb And The Luv Machines. We like to have a good time and we make it our business to help everyone else around us joins in.
Johnny: You play a pretty diverse selection of music. Is there any genre or style you consider your wheelhouse? How would you describe your sound?
Dubb: We want to entertain everyone when we play and we all like different styles and genres so that was a perfect combination which led to our diverse catalogue of songs. Everything from classic rock to hip-hop to country to pop and whatever’s in between. My guys are very talented, so with the different tastes, and one common goal, I’d say music is our wheelhouse.
Johnny: How many originals do you have and how many find their way into a typical show?
Dubb: We don’t typically do originals at a Luv Machines show but on rare occasion, and it’s usually requested by friends that know about them, we’ll pull out one. Every now and then someone will yell out a request though.
Johnny: About how many shows a month is the band playing and are the gigs mainly in the East Texas region or are you travelling a decent amount for shows?
Dubb: Shows per month vary, we all have day jobs and/or daily grinds that come with having to “adult” so sometimes our schedule is thin and sometimes we are playing Thursday through Saturday. I’d book Sunday’s but some of us are in worship bands. We travel from Texarkana to College Station, up into Oklahoma and we can’t leave out Arkansas or Louisiana. If the road is big enough for the bus, we’ll go!
Johnny: What has been your most memorable show to this point?
Dubb: Man, they are all so much fun it’s hard to single one out, but playing our hometown at local establishments or private parties are always great times. Then we go out on the road and find hidden gems that rock. We love seeing new places and meeting new people.
Johnny: What can a first timer expect at a Dubb And The Luv Machines’ show?
Dubb: High energy, crazy antics from a rogue drummer, blazing guitar solos, fat bass lines, soulful vocals, songs they know and can sing along to, and occasionally a ‘request challenge.’ That’s when someone asks us to play a song not in our repertoire, and we go at it on the fly. Could be musical genius or could be a trainwreck, but we are gonna have fun with it and probably drag the requestor in on it.
Johnny: What is on the radar for the rest of 2018 for you and the band?
Dubb: We have a pretty full schedule to finish out the year and there may be an original EP on the loose soon. Who knows! We are playing Texifed Jam Fest this October which is going to be a 2-day festival in Sulphur Springs. We are very pumped about that. We have a couple of charity events to do as well, and those are always something we love to be involved in. We are looking toward 2019 with hopes of doing it bigger and better.
Catch Dubb & The Love Machine online at facebook.com/dubbandtheluvmachines.
Tyler TX: Live Music Guide
Make a Splash This Summer at The Waterpark at The Villages Resort
Fall Fun in East Texas: Fall Festival Guide 2018
Let’s Get Outdoors: Unique Local Places to Explore
Chill Out With a Good Book
Family Friendly Classic Car Event Coming September 22nd – Mark the Date!
“Apertures of the Mind: Works by Abhidnya Ghuge” at TMA
6th Annual Art of Peace: Day of Kids, Concerts & More
October 13th, Award-Winning Band MercyMe in Concert
How You (A Student) Can Save More Money, Cha-Ching
Connect With Us!
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