Peter Holsapple’s first new solo album in 21 years, Game Day, was released to the world July 27, 2018 on Omnivore Recordings.
The world should have a pretty good idea of Holsapple’s resumé by now, but lest it need rehashing:
Too busy to make a solo record? Maybe. But in 2018, the time seemed right for a new batch of Holsapple tunes. Especially since Game Day was done in his home studio in Durham NC. Peter played every note on the record (save those of trombones and trumpets, and the sonorous vocals of Susan Cowsill on “Continental Drifters”), many of which are in tune and on the beat!
“I had never made an album all by myself before,” mused Holsapple. “There were always other people involved in the process at almost every point. That did not happen on Game Day.” Drums, guitars, keys, vocals and sundry other instruments (including bells and whistles, but not, regrettably, banjo) were all given that special “Holsapple touch”—played to the extent of the artist’s competency on the instrument. No less an astute record label than Omnivore Recordings thought enough of Holsapple to agree to release an album sight unheard, as it were.
“While I appreciate input, I needed to do this on my own, just to prove to myself that my ideas were right for the songs and the songs were right for the album.”
Growing up in the active and vibrant combo scene of 60s-70s Winston-Salem NC that also produced Mitch Easter, Chris Stamey and Don Dixon, Holsapple was preternaturally capable on guitar and keyboards, allowing him opportunities to play with older, more seasoned musicians in town and hold his own.
He recorded his first album with Easter and Stamey (Rittenhouse Square) in 1972, and the die was cast. Next he joined Winston-Salem’s primordial punk band Little Diesel (with dB’s drummer Will Rigby) whose sole 1973 LP No Lie was released to an eager audience in 2006. After college and a new wave band with Easter (The H-Bombs), Holsapple moved briefly to Memphis where he recorded at Phillips Recording with Richard Rosebrough (Big Star engineer/drummer). These recordings will be available soon on Omnivore Recordings.
From Tennessee to the streets of lower Manhattan, Holsapple joined Winston-Salem expats Stamey, Will Rigby and Gene Holder who were playing as The dB’s. With his songwriting skill and multi-instrumentalist status, Holsapple soon took on half the lead vocals in the band. His songs meshed nicely with Stamey’s, and the two writers became critics’ darlings with the band’s first two albums, Stands for Decibels and Repercussion. When Stamey left the band in 1983, Holsapple became the sole songwriter for The dB’s and the band recorded two albums of all Holsapple tunes, Like This and The Sound of Music.
After The dB’s called it a day in 1988, Holsapple was contacted by R.E.M. to play keyboards and second guitar on the Green World Tour, which he did. Many consider this tour the apex of R.E.M.’s live sound. Holsapple then recorded the Grammy®-winning Out of Time with the band, including acoustic guitar on the worldwide hit “Losing My Religion.” Meanwhile, he and Stamey recorded and released the beloved duo album Mavericks which featured their co-write “Angels.”
Holsapple moved to Los Angeles and began working with the fledgling band Continental Drifters, first as a sub on guitar, then producing demos and eventually joining the band on keyboards and producing a full-length album (released years later as 1993). He stayed with the band when it moved to New Orleans, releasing three more full albums (Continental Drifters, Vermilion and Better Day), an EP and a couple singles. After Hurricane Katrina, Holsapple moved back to North Carolina where he and Stamey released 2009’s hERE aND nOW and a reconstituted dB’s began work on Falling Off the Sky, released in 2012.
Upon releasing “Don’t Mention the War” on a 45 in 2017, a new album seemed inevitable. And here it is, Game Day, Peter Holsapple’s latest and possibly finest contribution to the world.
Find out more about Peter Holsapple at halfpearblog.blogspot.com.