Stress Jingle/Station ID #30 : Lonnie Holley

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Lonnie Holley, aka The Sand Man, is an outsider artist/musician who was born in 1950 in Birmingham, Alabama. Since 1979, Holley has devoted his life to the practice of improvisational creativity. His art and music, born out of struggle, hardship, but perhaps more importantly, out of furious curiosity and biological necessity, has manifested itself in drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, performance and sound. Holley’s sculptures are constructed from found materials in the oldest tradition of African American sculpture. Objects, already imbued with cultural and artistic metaphor, are combined into narrative sculptures that commemorate places, people, and events.

His artwork has been shown at the Birmingham Museum of Art, the American Folk Art Museum, and the Smithsonian. Holley always sings while he works. His music and lyrics are improvised on the spot and morph and evolve with every event, concert, and recording. In Holley’s original art environment, he would construct and deconstruct his visual works, repurposing their elements for new pieces. This often led to the transfer of individual narratives into the new work creating a cumulative composite image that has depth and purpose beyond its original singular meaning. The layers of sound in Holley’s music, likewise, are the result of decades of evolving experimentation.

Dust-to-Digital label has released two LPs of those lovely, haunting, mostly-improvised tunes. The first album Just Before Music, was recorded in 2010 and 2011. The follow-up, Keeping A Record Of It, includes tracks from 2006, 2010 and 2011, and guest performers The Black Lips' Cole Alexander and Deerhunter's Bradford Cox. 

Lonnie Holley at (by Marta Pina)

"The music he makes, too, sounds like it comes from some other place. It's so elemental, so stark and ripped from the ground, there should be no mystery how his first record, last year's Just Before Music, got its title: it sounds old and draws on principles that have been long forgotten."

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