"In concert, one of Holstein's great talents is getting the audience to sing along and it’s great hearing the audience’s full harmonies. . .

Sing Out!
Winter 2002 Issue

Fred Holstein
A Collection

Reviewed by Mike Regenstreif

Fred Holstein’s 1977 LP, Chicago And Other Ports, was a big favorite of mine. Playing guitar and banjo with the support of Jim Tullio’s acoustic bass, Holstein offered classic versions of well-known contemporary songs like Utah Phillips’ “The Telling Takes Me Home” and Ralph McTell's “Streets Of London” and traditional gems like “Days Of 49” and “Down By The River.” The set also included Woody Guthrie's “Old Chicago,” an obscure song that I've not heard by any other artist, including Guthrie.

This 2-CD retrospective, chock full of great songs, combines all of Chicago And Other Ports with Holstein’s other LP, the live For All The Good People, along with some radio show recordings and other live material, including Holstein’s finale set from the closing night of Holstein’s, the Chicago folk club that Holstein owned and operated with his brothers Ed and Allan in the 1980s.

In concert, one of Holstein’s great talents is getting the audience to sing along and it’s great hearing the audience's full harmonies on such songs as “This Little Light Of Mine”: and “For All The Good People.” Most of the songs in this generous collection are of contemporary vintage. However, in Holstein’s hands they all seem like traditional folksongs. And I say that in praise. – MR