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Tabernash: Musician is back home, back on stage

by Cyndi Palmer
Sky-Hi Daily News

Some have seen him play with Willy Williamson and sometimes with One Time, but what some may not know is that Matt Holliday is a show all by himself.

The Tabernash family man, who works at Doc’s Roadhouse in the winter, as a fly-fishing guide in the summer, and a guide for elk hunts in the fall, has been playing acoustic guitar since the age of 8. But, he said, he didn’t start taking himself seriously until he moved out here in 1993.

Since then, Holliday has truly made a name for himself as a musician, settling into the Rocky Mountain lifestyle and making it a home for himself and his family.

“I can’t think of a better place to be a musician than right here in Grand County,” he said. “People have come out to see me for years and years, and I hope that they are still having as much fun as I am. I am grateful to Grand County for allowing me to do what I love.”

Family and music have always been a large part of Holliday’s life. His grandmother Ruby Jo Lewis, “one of the greatest gospel pianists that has ever lived,” was the one who inspired Holliday to play music, he said. “Nothing, nothing gets people up and dancing like some good old down-home gospel.”

Other musical influences rest in what he calls the “jam band world” ” bands like the Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic and Neil Young whose music he said are “staples” in his shows.

Growing up in Montana, where he met wife, Shana, exposed him to a lot of “true” country music artists like Johnny Cash, Willy Nelson and George Jones.

He and wife, Shana, who is also a well-rounded artist, have two daughters, Mason (4) and Ruby (3). Shana, who Holliday said “is truly an inspiration,” plays the cello and is an actress and “phenomenal singer” who sometimes sings alongside him.

Holliday said she might make a special guest appearance Friday night. With music in their genes, their girls (who won’t be making an appearance Friday) can also sometimes be found up at the microphone on special occasions.

Before the girls came along, Holliday played with musician Erick Backer and they formed the band Logjam, which played at Rome on the Range, La Taqueria and the Drunken Frenchman. He said he and Logjam always had a great time and took great joy in seeing that the audience did, too.

“I think it is important to ‘feel out’ an audience and play what they are enjoying listening to,” he said. “Every so often, an audience comes along that is truly interested in original music, so I will gladly oblige.

“I pride myself on being able to play almost any genre of music, and if the audience is lending itself to one particular style over another, that is where I try and ‘sit,’ so to speak.”

Several Logjam members went on to form local group “Supermodel” and Holliday had to say good-bye when they moved out to California. After playing solo gigs for a couple years after that, he ran into guitarist Chris “Willy” Williamson and thus began the next chapter of his musical life as one of the guitarists for local band One Time.

He and his family moved away from the Valley for several years but, always considering Grand County their home, they moved back in August and are glad to be back.

“The people here are the most genuine people I have met anywhere,” he said. “The dozens of friendships we have made here will undoubtedly last my lifetime.”

The Pub, where he plays tonight, has been what Holliday considers his “musical home base” for about 10 years. If he had to guess, he’d say he’s played there around 100 times and he looks forward to every show.

“The whole point of playing and/or listening to music is the fun factor. Without music, the world is a boring place,” he said, and Grand County is certainly less boring with Holliday around.


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