Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

David Holt & the Lightning Bolts — June 6


David Holt & the Lightning Bolts

LOCATION: Holly Springs Cultural Center, 300 W Ballentine St
DATE: Saturday, June 6, 2009; 8 p.m.
TICKETS: Holly Springs Box Office 919-567-4000;
PRICE: $14 PineCone members, $16 public
EVENT SPONSORS: PineCone – the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, Inc.; Town of Holly Springs

Grammy award winning musician David Holt and his band the Lightning Bolts (Josh Goforth, guitar, fiddle and mandolin; Jeff Hersk, bass; David Cohen, percussion) perform music that is driving and energetic – “old-time music with a new time jolt!” PineCone presents David Holt & the Lightning Bolts on Saturday, June 6 at 8 p.m. at the Holly Springs Cultural Center as part of the Listening Room Concerts, presented in collaboration with the Town of Holly Springs.

With striking virtuosity on a unique and diverse collection of instruments, ear-catching arrangements, and a repertoire of tunes that crosses cultures and centuries, this group has a spark that keeps their music fresh, fun and fired up.

For more than 30 years, David Holt has been living in the Blue Ridge Mountains collecting and performing the songs and stories of the old-time mountaineers. He has learned this treasure trove of music directly from musical greats like Fred Cockerham, Byard Ray, Grandpa Jones, Roy Acuff and the oldest person in the world, 123-year-old Susie Brunson. Holt is a four-time Grammy Award winner, including two Grammys he won with Doc Watson for their three-CD set Legacy.

Holt is known for his folk music and storytelling recordings as well as for performing his own music. He is host of public television’s Folkways, a North Carolina program that takes the viewer through the Southern Mountains visiting traditional craftsmen and musicians, and he served as host of The Nashville Network’s Fire on the Mountain, Celebration Express and American Music Shop. Holt also hosts Riverwalk: Classic Jazz From The Landing for Public Radio International. Riverwalk, in its 13th year, is broadcast nationally from San Antonio, Texas, combining stories of the jazz greats told by Holt with the traditional jazz music of the Jim Cullum Jazz Band and guests including Lionel Hampton and Benny Carter. Holt has been a frequent guest on Hee Haw, Nashville Now and The Grand Ole Opry. Holt can also be seen as a musician in the popular film O Brother Where Art Thou. He was founder and director of the Appalachian Music Program at Warren Wilson College from 1975-1981. He is a three-time winner of Frets magazine readers’ poll for “best old-time banjoist,” and Southern Living magazine featured him in 2000 as a “Southerner Making a Difference.”

Holt met Josh Goforth as a 14-year-old student in Madison County. Goforth is a descendent of many of the same people Holt learned from when he first came to North Carolina in 1969. Goforth has spent much of his life devoted to learning and preserving the heritage of his Appalachian ancestry. Born and raised in Asheville, N.C. and with family roots in Madison County, Goforth was introduced to old-time music through Sheila Kay Adams, a Madison County native and seventh generation ballad singer and storyteller.

At the age of 13, Goforth’s great uncle J.C. Worley gave him his first guitar, and with some help from another uncle, Robert Baker, Josh was playing numerous tunes after the first few weeks. Over the next three years, he picked up other instruments such as fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and bass. He also became involved in his school band program, playing trumpet and serving as a student leader. When he reached high school, he was playing regularly with a group known as the Sim Top Ramblers; the group is a local legend in Madison County.  The band’s founder is Jerry Adams, who has received national acclaim for his two-finger banjo style, which was subsequently learned by Goforth. When Goforth was in 10th grade, Russ Jordan, a local radio announcer and bluegrass music promoter, invited him to play in the house bluegrass band at Renofest in Hartsville, S.C.  It was there that Goforth fell in love with bluegrass music. Along with friend and musician Hilary Dirlam, he formed The Lonesome Mountain Serenaders, a group comprised of local young musicians playing old-time, bluegrass, and swing music to encourage young people to take interest in their own heritage and musical background.

Goforth is very active in the world-renowned Bluegrass and Country Music Program at East Tennessee State University (ETSU). He tours regularly with the bluegrass band Appalachian Trail, the ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band, David Holt, Laura Boosinger, and numerous other bands. He has performed in nine foreign countries and almost every state in the eastern U.S. He has appeared at Lincoln Center, Gstaad Country Nights Festival in Switzerland, The Austrian Alps Performing Arts Festival, and many other festivals and concerts around the world. He appeared in the Trimark Feature Film Songcatcher, starring Aidan Quinn and Janet McTear as Fiddlin’ Will, and he contributed several fiddle pieces to the soundtrack. In the years 2000 and 2003, he was named Fiddler of the Festival at the nationally acclaimed Fiddler’s Grove competition. He has won numerous awards and honors for his playing and teaching abilities.  However, he believes that music should be about communication and feeling and not about awards and competitions.  He hopes that his music will help someone else find their purpose in life.

David Cohen lives in Asheville, N.C., where he’s been for 30 years. He is drummer who has been playing music since high school. He mostly plays percussion (congas and other hand percussion), but in the last several years he has also started playing a drum kit. He is currently a member of two bands (David Holt and the Lightning Bolts; Tennessee Hollow), and he plays and records in a variety of free-lance situations.

Jeff Hersk began playing the upright bass after much less satisfying careers in auto body repair, rural homesteading, and computer programming. He played guitar for many years, performing in rock bands in Canada and California in the ’70s, and he studied bass and jazz at the Nashville Jazz Workshop from 1999 through 2002. At the same time, he formed an acoustic group called Carnival Knowledge for the purpose of playing contra dances. The players were mostly from the bluegrass or old-time world, but with his jazz background, he got them playing “Caravan,” “Song for My Father” and “I Found a New Baby” for contra with great results.

Moving to Asheville, he pictured himself playing jazz and/or contra dance bass, and though he has done some of both, his main gig now is playing with David Holt and the Lightning Bolts. Another important piece of Hersk’s musical life is the Swannanoa Gathering, a music camp which takes place every summer on the campus of Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC. He describes Sannanoa as “truly a magical time of meeting new friends and sharing musical ideas for hours on end.” At the Gathering, he has performed and jammed or perform with many of my heroes including Elise Witt , Eric Byrd , Mick Kinney, Andy Stein, Matt Glaser, Pat Donohue, Mike Dowling, and many others.

Tickets for David Holt & the Lightning Bolts are $14 for PineCone members or $16 for the general public. Call the Holly Springs box office at 919-567-4000 for tickets, or visit

Artist website:

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