Mark “Porkchop” Holder originally turned the blues on its head more than a decade ago as a founding member of punk/blues band Black Diamond Heavies. While he’s been tearing up juke joints, festivals and dive bars since then with his own fiery brand of the blues, it wasn’t until earlier this year that the Tennessee musician released his own debut solo album, Let It Slide, an acclaimed effort that No Depression described as, “...fire in a barrel. If the Rolling Stones camped with Howlin’ Wolf and Billy Gibbons on trucker speed for the weekend with a fuzz pedal, this would be its precious procreation.”
Now just nine months later, the guitar-slinging, harp-shredding bluesman is releasing his follow-up album, Death and the Blues. On it, Holder, along with Travis Kilgore (bass) and Doug Bales (drums), builds on the success of his previous album with eight newly penned tracks, along with three rousing covers.
Despite the fact that this was recorded in the same studio as their last album (Tiny Buzz in Chattanooga, TN) and by the same line-up, the results are much heavier and tighter on this affair, with Holder’s inventive slide guitar-work snarling and baring teeth over the rock-solid rhythms from Kilgore and Bales.
“Blues is the music of poor people, and poor people live closer to death than other people do,” Holder admits. “The message of the title track is simple: death and the blues are real. I have a personal connection with the symbols of death; they remind me not to waste my time."
- September 29 @ The Office — Chattanooga, TN
- October 13 @ Hey Joe’s — Cleveland, MS
- October 14 @ Cat Head Delta Blues and Folk Art (11 AM show!) — Clarksdale, MS
- October 14 @ Levon’s — Clarksdale, MS
- October 15 @ Deep Blues Festival — Clarksdale, MS
Let It Slide marks the first time since his Black Diamond Heavies days that Holder has dedicated himself to the band format, after years of predominantly performing solo. He enlisted Chattanooga-area music scene veterans Travis Kilgore on bass and Doug Bales on drums, both of whom play on the record and have been touring with Holder.
Holder’s recent struggles provided fodder for one of the album’s strongest tracks, “Disappearing,” the lyrics of which Holder wrote on a napkin while he was in the hospital, gravely ill and longing for a visit from the woman he’d been seeing. The lyrics paint a haunting picture of a man at the end of his rope: “They say that all things must pass / Well I hope that it’s my time at last / Come and see me child, I’m fading fast / Disappearing, carry me away.” A propulsive drumbeat creates a sense of urgency, as does Holder’s guitar work, which features a lot of flat-fifths that heighten the sense of doom. – READ THE FEATURE HERE
There’s no arguing that this album is the work of a unique talent who is clearly not interested in making another by-the-numbers blues album. Holder and his band — bassist Travis Kilgore and drummer Doug Bales — hit with the impact of a rock band, and they’re full of dirty swagger, but Holder’s potent slide guitar work boasts the authority of vintage blues while following a melodic path that’s livelier and more adventurous than the usual set of 12-bar workouts. – Mark Deming / ALL MUSIC
In 2017, you’d be hard pressed to find someone bluesier than Mark Porkchop Holder. Known for his “anything goes” attitude toward gigs, as well as his gritty stylings, Holder has much reason to be singing the blues, with years of addiction and depression behind him. That said, Let It Slide has immersed as something of a catharsis; it is the sound of a changed man who is as true to his beloved musical influences as ever. – POPMATTERS
This kind of fiery swamp boogie is a perfect tonic for whatever ails you right now. – EYEPLUG MAGAZINE
Raw, stripped-down arrangements and deeply personal lyrics make Holder's music compelling listening. Let It Slide often feels less like a performance and more like a man exorcising personal demons. – LIVING BLUES
If the Rolling Stones camped with Howlin’ Wolf and Billy Gibbons on trucker speed for the weekend with a fuzz pedal, this would be its precious procreation. “My Black Name” is a charged up garage blues littered with succulent slide licks and tasty crunch, battling the demons that haunt a man’s reputation with war eyes and a big stick. – NO DEPRESSION
You have to try hard to come up with a variation on “Stagger Lee” that people haven’t heard. Porkchop and Co turn it into a primal stomp, with a massive bottom end and nasty, jagged guitars arguing over a mournful blues harp and with Hendrix singing. Heavy and crude, as opposed to most of the rest of the record and a tour de force. A Murderous Ballad indeed. – I94 BAR
It’s been a long time since we’ve heard boogie blues like this. – GLACIALLY MUSICAL
Known for his blistering guitar and raw power, “Disappearing” shows another side of Holder, a slinky, slick slide piece that proves the point that Holder can exercise restraint when it suits him. The result is a tune that—if the rest of his music is burning stage lights, hot vacuum tubes and sweat—is a cool breeze blowing over the audience. – CHATTANOOGA PULSE