116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
It's not easy getting back into playing shape for many musicians. Some recording artists, just like regular folks, were a little more sedentary than they would have liked during the pandemic.
“I’ve been trying to get my body back in shape,” vocalist and guitarist Shawn Holt said while calling from his Lincoln, Neb., home. “When you hit the road and perform up until the wee hours, you have to retrain your body and try to get back in shape. It's grueling when you’re not 25 or 30 years old.”
Holt, who leads his blues band, the Teardrops, passed on the livestreams during his hiatus. “I worked on my craft and wrote some songs,” he said. “But I’m anxious to get back out on the road since that's always been home for me.”
Expect Holt to preview some songs when he performs a free CSPS concert Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids — but it's uncertain when those tunes will be released.
Presenters: CSPS Hall and NewBo City Market
When: 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20, 2021
Where: NewBo City Market Yard, 1100 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids
Admission: Free, donations welcome
Extras: Bring chairs, umbrellas; sit inside a socially distanced square; no outside food, beverages, coolers
“I'm not even talking yet with record companies,” Holt said. “I do more business from the stage than with record companies.”
Much has changed for the middle-aged entertainer. When Holt was performing a generation ago backing his father, the legendary Magic Slim, record companies made an impact.
“Those were the days,” Holt said. “I remember what it was like when I went on the road with my dad when I was 17. I was out with Magic Slim and the Teardrops and it was amazing. I was happy that we were spending so much time together.
“I ended up loving the blues while playing with my dad. Who would ever guess this would become my life's work?”
While growing up during the Reagan era, Holt was a fan of a number of genres, but the blues wasn't part of his sonic lexicon.
“The funny thing is, when I was a kid, I couldn't stand the blues,” he said. “I was at home listening to rap music. That spoke to me. But … all changed when I picked up the guitar. I discovered that I was a natural. When my dad was on the road, I picked up one of his guitars and learned how to play just like that.
“I was 15, and I waited for him to come off tour since I was so excited to show him what I could do. I could play everything he played note for note and I didn't know the keys or scales. After I showed him what I could do, he took an interest in me. I went from loving Jay-Z and Lil' Wayne to being obsessed with the blues.”
And he wishes more people would give the blues a chance.
“It's very important to pass this music on and connect with a younger crowd. We have to keep the blues going. Part of what I do is spread the word about the blues. I don't want this to be a dying American art form.”
Holt has been holding his own since his father's death in 2013. The following year, Holt and the Teardrops won the Blues Blast Music Award for New Artist Debut album for “Daddy Told Me.”
“I miss my father, but it's been great continuing to make music with this band,” Holt said. “I'm doing my own thing. Some people had to realize that I've moved on and I'm not my father. People still compare me to him.
“What people don't get is that my father was Delta blues but I was born in the south side of Chicago. That is my style of music. I've established my style of the blues and I'm going to continue to evolve,” he said. “That's exciting, and so is the opportunity to play live again.”