Tom Feller, Chris Hill, and Tony Holt at the Palatka Bluegrass Festival – photo © Deb Miller
Baseball season is cranking up, which is usually the time we start hearing trade rumors in the bluegrass world. But how often do we actually get to report a merger?
Tony Holt of Wildwood Valley Boys fame has combined his operation with Feller & Hill and the Bluegrass Buckaroos. The guys are already well familiar with each other, as Tony is Tom Feller’s cousin, and the three bluegrass veterans live within about 20 minutes of each other in southern Indiana.
Tom tells us that Tony lost his whole band at the end of 2016, as a down year in bookings found them all looking for full time jobs outside of music. So Tony has joined Feller & Hill on guitar, and the band will honor all of their own dates this year with Tony, and the Wildwood Valley Boys dates as well.
Feller explained how it’s going to work…
“We will combine all tour dates for both bands, for 2017 and beyond. We will use the same band members (Tom Feller, Chris Hill, Tony Holt, and Bobby Davis) to fulfill each date. Dates which were booked for The Wildwood Valley Boys will be fulfilled as the Wildwood Valley Boys, featuring Tony Holt and his extensive song catalog and exceptional lead vocals. On Feller and Hill dates, Tony will sing the third part in trios and be featured regularly on songs of his choice. This should satisfy promotors and fans who have paid to see the Wildwood Valley Boys, while also broadening the vocal abilities and deep catalog material that Feller & Hill and the Bluegrass Buckaroos have become known for.
We are beyond excited to have Tony onboard and he has expressed his excitement about working with us. Tony has played a few shows with us already this year. He is often seen as very serious and somber on stage. We plan to change that. I was shown some pictures from our recent show, in Palatka, Florida where Tony was grinning from ear to ear, so obviously he’s having a great time on stage with us.
Tony, Chris, and I have a long history together and it’s always a blast to travel together and we’re looking forward to a great year.”
By merging their businesses, Tom says that now have 2 buses between them, plus an additional driver, an additional bus mechanic, and an additional lead singer. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal.
Holt is also the natural heir to the rich repertoire of the Boys From Indiana, which his father and uncles had launched back in the 1970s.
This new arrangement is expected to be in force at least through 2018, with Tony uncertain about whether he wants to reassemble his own band.
Tom also asked that we share a word about another of his cousins.
“I would also ask you to say a prayer for the Holt family. Last Friday, we lost Tony’s sister and Aubrey’s daughter, Anita Holt, to cancer. She had only been diagnosed about a month earlier. We had a very touching service for her this past Tuesday which was filled with music throughout. It was a fitting tribute and was something that brought our entire family back together. There is an obituary online that is located on several of the family members’ Facebook pages, if you wish to learn more. Continued prayers for everyone are appreciated.”
R.I.P., Anita Holt.