SXSW Music Review: Lonnie Holley/Mary Lattimore

Instant poetry by Holley and golden harp from Lattimore

Drifting through truth without illusion, Lonnie Holley rendered the clear facts of the moment into instantly divine poetry on Thursday evening as he streamed Astral Weeks-style testimony on the Colorado River, where the Southwestern sun scattered light across the wavy water and toward the stage outside of the Waller Creek Boathouse.

Lonnie Holley (Photo by Todd V. Wolfson)

“Sun glare,“ sang Holley with tender accents of spiritual wonder. “Sun glare, still burning bright, shimmering across the water.”

On the spot, he revealed the magic of the immediate environment as he drew out the specifics of nature along the passage of time – from satellites and sun rays to the sacrifices of maternity – into allegorical narratives, universal themes, and personal reflections. The wind kicked up and blew leaves east, grackles flew between blue sky and green grass – things maybe undetected before Holley started singing.

A leisurely crowd of sunglasses drew closer to his words like gospel as the Alabama-born sculptor and musician journeyed through nourishing meditations during the hourlong set. His lyrical comet tails and interplanetary keyboard solos were complemented by the muted Gibson chords of Lee Bains III, a former student of Holley’s who also hails from Alabama.

Halfway through the set, Mary Lattimore, from Los Angeles, joined the journey on a golden harp. Later, she performed solo, with the sunset and South Congress bat colony as background. She looped harp ascensions, then reversed the patterns, like a tranquil “Sea Song” from Robert Wyatt.

Mary Lattimore (Photo by Todd V. Wolfson)

Lonnie Holley and Mary Lattimore

Thursday, March 14, 5:30pm, Waller Creek Boathouse

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Lonnie Holley, Mary Lattimore, SXSW 2019, SXSW Music 2019, Lee Bains III, Robert Wyatt

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