Rick Holmstrom

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Rick Holmstrom
Born (1965-05-30) May 30, 1965 (age 54)
Fairbanks, Alaska, United States
GenresElectric blues, West Coast blues, rhythm and blues[1]
Occupation(s)Guitarist, singer, songwriter, record producer
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1985–present
LabelsBlack Top, Tone-Cool, M.C.
Associated actsWilliam Clarke, Johnny Dyer, Rod Piazza, Mavis Staples
WebsiteOfficial website

Rick Holmstrom (born May 30, 1965) is an American electric blues and rhythm and blues guitarist, singer and songwriter.[1] Holmstrom has previously worked with William Clarke, Johnny Dyer, and Rod Piazza. He is currently the bandleader for Mavis Staples.[2] In addition, Holmstrom has played and recorded with Jimmy Rogers, Billy Boy Arnold, Booker T. Jones, Jody Williams, and R. L. Burnside.[3]

One critic observed of Holmstrom, "he delivers music with technical savvy and traditional stylings, without sacrificing originality and pure adventure".[4]

Early life[edit]

Rick Holmstrom was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, United States,[5] one of three children and the only son of Larry and Diane Holmstrom. His paternal grandfather, Francis O. Holmstrom, was a native of Everett, Washington who moved to Fairbanks during the early part of the middle 20th century and owned a jewelry store in downtown Fairbanks for many years. Holmstrom grew up in Fairbanks, where his father worked as a broadcaster and broadcasting executive, and also headed the Fairbanks office of the Governor of Alaska under governor Jay Hammond.

Music career[edit]

After relocating to Southern California, and while attending college in Redlands, California, Holmstrom joined a local blues group.[3] Holmstrom also went to blues concerts, where he played guitar with Smokey Wilson and Junior Watson.[1]

He joined William Clarke's backing band, and played both lead and rhythm guitar for three years up to 1988. That same year, Holmstrom suffered a significant tragedy in his family, as his father and one of his sisters were killed in a whitewater rafting accident in Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.[6][7] Later joining forces with Johnny Dyer, Holmstrom played on his albums, Listen Up (1994) and Shake It! (1995). He moved on to join Rod Piazza's backing group, the Mighty Flyers and, in 1996, released his first solo album, Lookout! on Black Top Records.[1] It was an instrumental affair, about which one reviewer noted "Holmstrom's inventive ideas are top-notch, making each track stand mightily on its own".[8]

However, Holmstrom continued to perform with Piazza, and help him record Tough and Tender (1997). By 2000, Holmstrom's second solo effort, Gonna Get Wild was released on Tone-Cool Records, and he stayed long enough with Piazza's backing ensemble to participate on Beyond the Source (2001). Holmstrom's next release, Hydraulic Groove (2002) is one of his most daring efforts, where he used loops and samples, and incorporated elements of acid jazz/nu-jazz, funk and trip hop to his blues, featuring guest performances of John Medeski and DJ Logic.[1] Hydraulic Groove peaked at number 9 in the Billboard Top Blues Albums chart. In 2005, Holmstrom played at the Dark Season Blues festival. Holmstrom turned to record production duties for other musicians before, in 2006, releasing Live at the Cafe Boogaloo.[1]

Holmstrom switched record label to M.C. Records, and in 2007 issued Late in the Night.

With Mavis Staples[edit]

Since 2007, Holmstrom, along with his trio from the Late in the Night recording, have frequently toured and recorded with Mavis Staples.[9] They appear on her 2008 album, Live: Hope at the Hideout,[10] her 2010 Grammy Award-winning album, You Are Not Alone,[11] and her 2017 album, If All I Was Was Black.[12]

Staples, in turn, appeared on Holmstrom's 2012 album, Cruel Sunrise.[13]


Year Title Record label
1996 Lookout! Black Top
2000 Gonna Get Wild Tone-Cool
2002 Hydraulic Groove Tone-Cool
2006 Live at the Cafe Boogaloo Tone-Cool
2007 Late in the Night M.C. Records
2012 Cruel Sunrise M.C. Records


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Char Ham (1965-05-30). "Rick Holmstrom | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-10-08.
  2. ^ Greg Rapaport. "Rick Holmstrom's "Cruel Sunrise" Set for Worldwide Release August 28 | Guitar Instrumental Music". Instrumentalguitar.info. Retrieved 2012-11-26.
  3. ^ a b "Biography". Rickholmstrom.com. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  4. ^ "Gonna Get Wild - Rick Holmstrom - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  5. ^ "About Rick - Rick Holmstrom". Rickholmstrom.com. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  6. ^ Hulen, David (August 8, 1988). "Film crew's raft trip ends in death; former governor escapes injury in Wrangell St. Elias accident which claims 3". Anchorage Daily News. Anchorage: The McClatchy Company. p. A1.
  7. ^ Coats, Ted (June 9, 1999). "Recent Alaska Whitewater Accidents". TC's Alaska Whitewater Rafting Page. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
  8. ^ "Lookout! - Rick Holmstrom - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  9. ^ "Fuse Music Interview: Mavis' Man — Guitarist Rick Holmstrom on Backing Mavis Staples With Taste and Space". Artsfuse.org. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Live: Hope at the Hideout - Mavis Staples - Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  11. ^ "Mavis Staples - You Are Not Alone". Discogs.com. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  12. ^ "If All I Was Was Black - Mavis Staples - Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  13. ^ "Cruel Sunrise - Rick Holmstrom - Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  14. ^ "Rick Holmstrom | Album Discography". AllMusic. 1965-05-30. Retrieved 2015-10-08.