Holly Bowling at Woodlands Tavern-May 16th, 2016

Holly Bowling

Woodlands Tavern Columbus, Ohio 

May 16, 2016

by Jack Jolieri of Rubix Wheel


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Holly Bowling is a classically trained pianist from San Francisco who composes interpretations of Grateful Dead and Phish songs.  By creating her own versions of these songs with strictly instrumental piano, she entertains audiences from coast to coast.  The atmosphere at her concerts is both intimate and communal.  She plays extremely well and her talents create both intrigue and excitement in the listener.

To start the show Holly played “Taste,” a Phish song from the ’95 album Billy Breathes.  Then she stated that her husband asked her not to play “Taste,” so she has been playing it on every show this tour.  The crowd laughed and lightened up as she started into another Phish song, “The Curtain With.”  I was engrossed and in it for the whole show, enjoying the complex sounds that can only be expressed from a master of the Grand Piano.  “Help on the Way,” a Dead song, was extremely good.  (See video)  “Free” was another favorite of mine.  Everyone cheered when she played the guitar riff for “Free” by Phish.  She played with a passion and vigor that made for a tasteful place to have a glass of wine or a craft beer.

I got a chance to meet Holly before the show as she was getting the grand piano ready.  She was beautiful, charming, and witty as we chatted about music and politics.  It was only a brief meeting, but I appreciated her gratitude and enthusiasm when I told her I would be writing her show up.

“Dark Star” was another highlight from the first set, a classic Dead tune.  She played this one with the finesse and sensitivity that only a true talent can pull off.

She threw in “Wild World” (Cat Stevens) and “Ohio” (CSNY),  When she played “Squirming Coil” to close the set, the crowd was fully into it.  Out of nowhere, everyone chanted the lyrics “….little Jimmy’s off to camp.”  But there were no lyrics throughout the entire show.  Holly plays the vocal line and instrumental parts simultaneously on her Piano.  As a musician, I understand how difficult this is to do.  For me as a classically trained guitarist, I only have to play rhythm and lead and sing the songs.  But what Holly does is compose her own versions of these songs, incorporating all parts to make the song shine.  I would imagine this is a laborious process that takes a large amount of time.
I highly encourage you to check out a show next time Holly goes on tour.  She finished her tour in Columbus, and the crowd ate it up.  And to top it off, she did the encore in a Unicorn Mask.  Holly is truly a unique and brilliant talent unique unto herself.  Check out the videos I took and get to a show on her next tour!
Help on the Way

5/16/16 Woodlands Tavern Columbus, OH
Set 1:
The Curtain With
Help on the Way >
Slipknot! >
Free > *
Wild World # **
Dark Star >
Ohio > #***
Taste Reprise > ****
Squirming Coil
Set 2:
My Friend, My Friend &
Sand >
Wharf Rat > %
Cryptical Envelopment > #
The Other One >
Cryptical Envelopment >
Harry Hood > $
Slipknot! >
Franklin’s Tower
E: 1999 > # @
Harry Hood (ending only) +
* unfinished. w/ Taste tease
** Cat Stevens, just chorus
*** Crosby, Stills Nash and Young
**** w/ Ohio Mashup
& w/ Taste fakeout
% w/ Sand teases
$ w/ Sand, Cryptical & The Other One teases, unfinished
@ Prince w/ Taste fakeout
+ w/ Taste tease
Note: Holly played the encore in a unicorn mask