I had a real treat last night when we went to see Lonnie Holley play in the church down the end of my road. I really can't do justice to him or his extraordinary life story, but this feature in The Guardian last year makes a gallant attempt to do so.
The short version is that Lonnie is a highly regarded so-called 'outsider' artist whose works have been displayed in museums all over America, from the MOMA and Smithsonian on down. He has been making and recording music privately for many years, originally using a second-hand Casio keyboard and a karaoke machine. He made his first album in 2012 and his third album 'MITH', released last year, has rightly generated a lot of interest.
Lonnie played keyboards last night, accompanied by two of his regular collaborators on drums, trombone and effects. The first part of the set was a little bit one-paced at times, to be honest, while still being pretty good. The best bits sounded like a Donny Hathaway album (if the album in question was "Donny Hathaway Sings Songs About Space Ships And Air Conditioning Units").
As the set progressed they went up a gear or two. The extra oomph suited both Lonnie's songs and voice, bringing out their preacherly qualities (appropriately given the venue). They finished on a real high with "I Woke Up In A Fucked Up America" and a plaintive but funky love song to Siri. Yes, that Siri.
I would recommend investing in "MITH" if you haven't already done so. Until it arrives, here are a song apiece from his first two albums, "Just Before Music" (2012) and "Keeping A Record Of It" (2013).
"Mama's Little Baby" - Lonnie Holley
"Six Space Shuttles And 144,000 Elephants" - Lonnie Holley