Holly Bowling embarks on groundbreaking wilderness livestream tour


Photo credit: Jefferey Bowling
Acclaimed pianist Holly Bowling has announced plans for a groundbreaking virtual concert tour, featuring extraordinary solo performances filmed live at some of America’s most spectacular natural locations. The virtual tour begins Thursday, September 3 with a performance from California’s Lake Tahoe, followed every Thursday by new performances filmed at Yosemite National Park (September 10), Utah’s famed Bonneville Salt Flats (September 17), Idaho’s epic Bruneau Canyon (September 24), Montana/Wyoming’s scenic Beartooth Highway (October 1), and South Dakota’s Badlands National Park (October 8). The virtual tour comes in advance of Bowling’s new album Seeking All That’s Still Unsung, a solo piano album featuring reimagined renditions of the music of the Grateful Dead, due out this fall.

All performances will be broadcast for free via Bowling’s official Facebook page; viewers are invited to contribute to the San Francisco-based pianist’s Virtual Tip Jar.

On the tour, Bowling says:
“When COVID first shut everything down, I started playing and recording a bunch of solo piano sets from my living room. It felt good to play and it held my sanity together, and it was also the only avenue I had to continue working as a performing musician. As grateful as I was (and still am) for that opportunity, after a few months it was starting to feel like too much staring at the same walls in the same empty room. I decided if the only option right now is to play to empty spaces, then I wanted to do that in a giant canyon or on a mountaintop in the middle of nowhere. If people can’t be a part of the equation for the time being, let’s lean into that and take it further – get really far out there away from everyone and play there. It’s one of those things that would never have worked in normal times. But I realized there’s two ways to look at this time – you can look at all of the things we can’t do, everything we’re missing out on, everything we’ve lost… or you can find the things that you can only do now that you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise, and seek those things out and make them happen.”

“I played a set in Yosemite and I was only able to pull that off because the park was practically empty and had far fewer people in it than any other summer. So there’s that aspect of it. Then there’s the time it’s taken to get to all of these remote places and do this “tour” – it’s completely irrational and inefficient from a touring or logistical perspective, and there would never be time to do it with the usual schedule touring musicians keep. But right now, we’re all kind of in this holding pattern, sitting around waiting. So there’s plenty of time to do something different. And I desperately wanted to get outside – that’s where I’ve been feeling most okay during all of this. So we’re taking this crazy road trip in a self-contained little camper van and driving my gear out to these wild places and setting up and playing in settings I never in a million years thought I’d get to play music in.”

Hailed by Rolling Stone for her “heady, layered improv-rock excursions distilled into crystalline solo piano pieces,” Holly Bowling has earned widespread applause for her innovative and technically advanced, emotionally rich style. After studying piano performance at SF State University, Bowling turned her agile mind and interpretive prowess towards painstakingly transcribing and then performing a wildly improvisational 2013 live version of Phish’s epic “Tweezer.” The 37-minute performance – dubbed “The Tahoe Tweezer” – proved a sensation, inspiring a pair of remarkable LPs in 2015’s Distillation Of A Dream: The Music Of Phish Reimagined For Solo Piano and 2016’s Better Left Unsung, the latter a triple-LP collecting classical solo piano arrangements of the music of the Grateful Dead. Her innovative approach and remarkable virtuosity earned Bowling attention from the devoted jam band community as well as such legends as Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Warren Haynes, Jim James, Page McConnell, John Scofield, Ivan Neville, Steve Kimock, Oteil Burbridge, Branford Marsalis, Duane Trucks, Greensky Bluegrass, Umphrey’s McGee, Railroad Earth, Don Was, and Robert Randolph, all of whom invited her to perform alongside them at multiple, concerts, festivals, and events like Lesh’s Terrapin Crossroads and Haynes’ annual Christmas Jam.

Last year saw Bowling release her first official concert recording, Live from the Old Church, featuring stunning renditions of Phish and Grateful Dead classics including “Theme From The Bottom,” “Dark Star,” and “Let It Grow.” Bowling recently released the eight-volume series, Alone Together: The Living Room Sessions, collecting remastered audio of her popular livestream concerts presented during quarantine earlier this year. The repertoire featured on Alone Together includes favorite songs by Phish and the Grateful Dead along with visionary solo piano versions of Radiohead’s “Idioteque” and Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt,” both joined by equally powerful performance videos streaming now at Bowling’s official YouTube channel.

As if that weren’t enough, Bowling’s full-length Live From Out There performance aired live from her San Francisco living room in late March and is streaming now via YouTube. The concert – also available as Alone Together, Vol. 2 – is highlighted by Bowling’s first-ever performance of The Youngbloods’ “Get Together.”

3 – Lake Tahoe, California
10 – Yosemite, California
17 – Salt Flats, Utah
24 – Bruneau Canyon, Idaho

1 – Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming
8 – Badlands, South Dakota