Eddie Holstein

Chicago Sun Times Review

February 1st 2009

Eddie Holstein Rating 3 1/2 out of 4

It took 40 years, but Eddie Holstein has finally made a record, except now of course it’s a CD. And maybe just as well he took his time. This is lovely, funny, heartening music, played and sung without affectation or guile, music by a man wise enough to avoid all artifice. Case in point is “Jazzman,” a Holstein original that’s been recorded by many others. In days gone by – the middle 1970s to be specific, when Ed and his late brother Fred were at the beating heart of Chicago’s once booming folk scene – Eddie sang “Jazzman” all twangy and droning, like a wannabee Bob Dylan. Everyone wanted to be Bob Dylan. Now Holstein sings “Jazzman” like Holstein, simply and directly, his South Side accent shining through. Holstein knows who he is, and that makes him good company.

Most of the 17 tracks are studio recordings, featuring Holstein’s superb thumping style of finger picking, plus a little banjo, bass, mandolin and percussion But several tracks were recorded live, capturing Holstein’s other great talent – talking. He’s a deceptively casual comedian, especially when he is mocking the very idea of the earnest “hoboing” folk singer. Listening to this CD is like revisiting a great night at the Earl of Old Town or Fred and Ed’s own Lincoln Avenue club, Holstein’s.

Tom McNamee