Rick Holmstrom – Get It!
Another LP of guitar instrumentals comes as a wish to say something without words. LA’s Rick Holmstrom’s blues-based playing made him an in-demand studio ace. Graced many tunes & performances by name artists (Booker T & later bandleader for Mavis Staples).
On this, the first single “Erlee Time” Rick steps out to recreate a Meters-type guitar showcase & succeeds. After 6 solo LPs & a 33-year career, he continues to lay down a solid juke joint groove that can be funky, rocky & spirited.
Joined by Steve Mugalian (drums) & Gregory Boaz (bass) the latest CD the 14-cut Get It! (LuEllie Records-Drops March 4) was produced by all 3 musicians.
While not as fiery as a Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton, Robin Trower, or Hendrix – Holmstrom’s forte is proficiency with soul, rhythm & sensitivity. Would Mavis Staples use Jimi Hendrix as a guitarist? Would Jimi be as effective to her showcase? In the work field, they say, “the right tool for the right job.” That can apply to musicians selected for a recording date or live show. The difference between a perfect cut to justify a tune, an artist or simply creating a showboat experience. Holmstrom’s more applicable than many. Rick provides the expertise & this is like a resume of techniques with no interference.
Several songs stand out & a few are reliant solely on a groove structure like “Looky Here,” with its 40s-style jazz song title. It can get derrieres on the dancefloor that’s for sure. “All About My Girls,” takes things in a different direction. Strictly a 50s Les Paul type drive it has an old-fashion stereo-Hi-Fi ambiance & retro dynamic. The bass is solid & the guitar notes pour out like confetti.
What this collection does (it may be good) is give novice guitarists ideas. How to do something with class since some Holmstrom songs sound like exercises in blues applications. Few songs here have a memorable singularity as “Classical Gas,” (Mason Williams) or the veneer of a classic like “Albatross,” by Peter Green (early Fleetwood Mac). Those instrumental’s stayed in your ear.
“Bubbles,” is cool. Still — a slightly retro feel, upbeat & well-recorded. A bit Duane Eddy meets Lonnie Mack. But Holmstrom is always steady, takes a vintage style & shapes it to his own gratification. The LP also suggests a 50s jazz album texture with tunes structured to sound like they’re jams or slightly improvised. “Robyn’s Romp,” is one. Strikingly played with a Dave Brubeck feel & Joe Morello drum style.
What sounds like a lost Chuck Berry melody is “Surfer Chuck.” Holmstrom is inventive, creative, has a nice intelligent touch & adds a variety of guitar sounds to many of his tunes. Amazing how in the right hand’s tight amplified strings can provide such musical excitement. Rick has the fingers.
Color image courtesy: Greg Vorobiov. CD available @ Bandcamp + https://rickholmstrom.com/