Posters done for Lonnie Holley - Printed by Standard Deluxe.
There are many remarkable things about the artist and visionary Lonnie Holley and only one of them is the vulnerable beauty of this record. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1950, the seventh of 27 children, and claims he was traded for a bottle of whiskey when he was four. At five he got a job picking up litter at a drive-in cinema and left school for good before he was a teenager. In his late 20s he began creating sandstone tombstones fafter the death of his two nieces in ahouse fire. As a child he had watched his mother hunt for what clothing and food she could find and so it was that Holley began to collect materials for his own artworks. Now a father himself – to 15 children – he still lives and works in Birmingham, where he creates pieces that celebrate the area's African-American community and vast industrial heritage. These recordings were made in 2010 and 2011 and it's all completely improvised; each Holley performance is a unique, evolving lifeform and the ones gathered together here sit somewhere between the highly personalised social commentary of Gil Scott Heron, the revelatory folk-soul bliss of Terry Callier and the experimental deep-space blues of Sun Ra. But make no mistake; this is a defiantly modern recording. A track like Fifth Child Burning wouldn't sound out of place in an xx DJ set, while Here I Stand Knocking at Your Door clanks and resonates like the iron and steel mills that once so dominated Holley's hometown. A true outsider art classic, Just Before Music is, unusually, one you might want to actually listen to more than simply admire.