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Bluesman John Dee Holeman — June 20

John Dee Holeman

John Dee Holeman

DATE: June 20, 2009, 3-5 p.m.
VENUE: Sertoma Amphitheater at Bond Park, Cary, NC
EVENT SPONSORS: PineCone and the Town of Cary
INFORMATION:, (919) 664-8333

Cary, N.C. – Durham bluesman John Dee Holeman, who turned 80 earlier this year, performs a free concert as part of PineCone’s newest concert series at Sertoma Amphitheater in Cary’s Bond Park.

Holeman has been awarded a National Heritage Fellowship (1988) by the National Endowment for the Arts and a North Carolina Heritage Award (1994) by the NC Arts Council. Born in Orange County, North Carolina in 1929, John Dee grew up on a small farm and began playing the blues at the age of 14. Though he never met Blind Boy Fuller, John Dee credits Fuller with teaching him to play guitar. He says he learned to play by listening to Fuller’s records and by playing with musicians who had learned directly from Fuller. Holeman uses both the Piedmont and Texas guitar styles in his playing.

For most of his life, Holeman had a day job to support himself and his family. In Durham, he was a heavy equipment operator and construction worker. Over the years, he was able to supplement his income by playing blues and “patting juba.” Juba, the use of complex hand rhythms to provide timing for dancers, is a centuries-old tradition among Africans and African Americans. Where Holeman grew up, it was customary when party musicians took a break for the males to engage in competitive solo dancing accompanied only by hand or “patting” rhythms. Juba refers to both the complex hand rhythms and the dance traditionally done to them. The dance done to the juba rhythm is also called “buckdance,” “bust down,” and “jigging.” “Patting” is distinguished from clapping by virtue of the varied pitches the patting hand elicits from the arms, chest, thighs, and flanks.

Though he never chose to pursue music as a full-time profession, Holeman has played at festivals around the country and in concerts in Europe and Africa, where he also conducted workshops for students and other performers.

The PineCone Summer Series at Sertoma is a new partnership between the Town of Cary and PineCone-the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music. After more than 10 years of presenting a series of outdoor concerts that were free and open to the public at Garner’s Lake Benson Park, the Garner Parks and Recreation Department decided not to renew its contract with PineCone to co-produce these programs.

“PineCone is committed to continuing its free summer events,” said William Lewis, Executive Director of PineCone, “and we look forward to strengthening our partnership with the Town of Cary to maintain these programs for the community.”

After Garner informed PineCone of their decision not to continue the partnership, Lewis proposed the series to the Town of Cary’s Cultural Arts Division, where it was met with enthusiasm.

Lyman Collins, Cultural Arts Manager for the Town of Cary, said, “We are excited to partner with PineCone to showcase the best in traditional music in a beautiful natural setting. Together we are able to ensure that Cary citizens and indeed the entire Triangle will be able to continue to enjoy great music.”

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