He's How Old?

New Kid In Town (Magic Valley Records)
Ryan Holladay

By Bob Mitchell

New Kid is Holladay's third release but it is my first exposure to his work and, in a word, it's impressive. Amazingly, he is only twelve years old, but anyone who did not know that would believe he is much older. Carl Jackson's liner notes say, "He is playing things on a five string he simply wasn't supposed to be able to do." Holladay jumps all over the opening track, "Boston Boy," but he does not limit himself to the banjo. No sir, he also provides remarkable solos on mandolin and guitar.

Holladay has appeared on the Grand Ole Opry since the age of five and he's been featured on Oprah Winfrey, Crook and Chase and Ralph Emery. In addition he's performed on stage with Del McCoury, Lonesome Standard Time, Blue Highway, Lynn Morris and the Lonesome River Band. Not impressed yet? Try this one: He's opened for Roy Clark. Of course, the best way for you to know the extent of his talent is to listen for yourself.

He puts the pedal to the metal on a barn-burning instrumental, "Blackjack," and a no-nonsense cover of Chris Thile's "Shadow Ridge" (with some fine bow work from Jason Carter). Not content to play three instruments, Holladay also includes several vocals, including an exciting cover of Steve Wariner's "When It Rains." After the vocal verses, the band propels this song into overdrive for the last two minutes of a five-minute arrangement. It is especially thrilling when Holladay and Jason Carter's fiddle go toe to toe with a barrage of dazzling solos.

New Kid is definitely a family project. Holladay's mother, Lisa, lends vocal support on an excellent a capella gospel number, "There Is A God." His father, Mark, provides solid guitar work and several first rate lead vocals, including a driving "Kaymoor Mine" and the title cut. Cousin "Doc" contributes guitar, bass and cello while Uncle Mike adds a steady bass line. Other musical support comes from Tyler Andal on fiddle and Chris Joslin on Dobro.

New Kid is an excellent showcase for an incredible young talent with great musical instincts. Larry Cordle said, "We can look for great things from this extraordinarily talented young man." This reviewer agrees.