Track of the Week #21: Lonnie Holley - 'Sometimes I Wanna Dance'

Track of the Week #21: Lonnie Holley - 'Sometimes I Wanna Dance'

Tue Oct 16th

Every week, we bring you a must-hear track from the Le Guess Who? 2018 line-up. This week, we highlight a track of acclaimed improvisational maverick and storyteller of the highest order: Lonnie Holley. With groovy, piano-driven tune, this song offers a clear message: "free your ass and the mind will follow."

Hearing Lonnie Holley's incredible life story, it sounds like it's coming straight out of a book or a movie. Growing up in a family of 27 in Birmingham, Alabama - a place where racism towards African Americans was commonplace at the time -, Holley's early life was marked by chaos and ill luck.

At the age of four, according to his retelling, Holley was traded by his foster-mother to another family over a bottle of whiskey. And by the time he was five, he was already working several jobs, ranging from picking up trash to washing the dishes. It was only until short after his 29th birthday that Holley would start to devote his live to the practice of improvisational creativity. Another 33 years later, at the age of 62, Holley was finally set to release his first studio album 'Just Before Music'.

Sometimes I Wanna Dance
But, to get back to the subject: serving as the final track of his new LP 'MITH', 'Sometimes I Wanna Dance' feels slightly out of place. Unlike the rest of his album, which tackles weighty subjects like Black Lives Matter and contemporary American politics, this song shines as a bright, jubilant light at the end of the somehow dark, rough-edged tunnel. Carried by bouncy, upbeat piano chords, which features fellow-improvisational nonconformist Laraaji, Holley's vocal lines dance throughout the song, begging you to get up and dance all day long. 

MITH
Unlike his previous musical output, Lonnie Holley's third album 'MITH' travels down to the real world. Opening with the powerful statement "I'm suspect in America," the album's theme immediately becomes clear. Guided by kaleidoscopic, improvised arrangements, Holley's stream-of-consciousness lyricism and his soulful yet gutter-raw voice, the album addresses several public matters, resulting in Holley's most compelling, urgent album to date. Listen the album in full here

Lonnie Holley’s performance at Le Guess Who? 2018 will feature expressive trombone and drums duo Nelson Patton, who are also featured on Lonnie Holley's latest album. Also performing at the festival are a.o. Art Ensemble of Chicago, Circuit des Yeux, Swamp Dogg, Irreversible Entanglement feat. Pat Thomas, Neneh Cherry, BCUC, and many more.