Eddie Holstein

Sing Out!

Summer 2009, Vol 53 #1

Eddie Holstein: Reviewed by Mike Regenstreif

Although Eddie Holstein has been a stalwart of the Chicago folk scene for more than 40 years, he’s probably as well known for his involvement in such fabled clubs as Somebody Else’s Troubles and Holstein’s – which he co-owned with his brothers Alan and the late Fred – as he is as a performer.  This is actually his first full-length album, and it’s a seamless blend of live and studio tracks.

Among the album’s 16 songs are Eddie’s own version of “Jazzman,” a song he wrote early in his career that was covered by a bunch of artists, including Steve Goodman, Bonnie Koloc and Tom Rush.  It’s a lyrically oblique, yet poignant song from the perspective of someone in a bad way reaching out to someone who used to care.

Most of the rest of the album is devoted to nice versions of folk and blues classics like Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain,” Elizabeth Cotton’s “Shake Sugaree,” Sleepy John Estes’ “Drop Down Mama” and a sing-along version of Paul Clayton’s “Done Laid Around.”

Eddie also happens to be one of the funniest comedians I’ve ever heard, and there are comedy bits thrown into the CD.  About halfway through “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” for example, he tells a hilarious story that starts with him singing the song the first time he was ever on stage – and Vincent Price in the audience – and ends at an audition where the club owner thought Eddie wrote the song.

Eddie plays it straight on some of the tracks, and with his tongue firmly in cheek on others.  The arrangements are kept simple.  He is solo on some, but is joined by bassist John Abbey on most. Other singers and musicians, including Bonnie Koloc, Mark Dvorak and Jim Craig, pop up occasionally. – MR