Biography

 

In 1971 The Kinks released an album ‘Muswell Hillbillies’ named after the

Muswell Hill area of North London where Ray Davies grew up and formed the

band in the early 1960’s. The leafy suburb of Muswell Hill is also where singer

songwriter Felix Holt grew up. Holt may not be a hillbilly but he is a self-taught

student of the history of country, folk, blues and lyric poetry and those influences

can be heard and are reflected in his own traditional yet original songs. A perfect

example is ‘Jump Start’ with it’s driving rhythm and chord structure straight out

of the Hank Williams songbook and influenced by a throwaway comment from

the everyday as Felix explains:

 

“I was helping a lady who owns a local café to paint it’s interior and she said some

people are like cars, they need a jump start to get going and that stuck with me and

formed the basis for the song”.

 

Felix’ musical education began as most do by listening to records in the family

home and it was the soundtrack to The Blues Brothers which featured Cab

Calloway’s ‘Minnie The Moocher’ that first caught Holt’s youthful ears and lit up

his imagination. Spending his teenage years learning to play guitar soon saw him

onstage for the first time with a band of friends at a school graduation ball with

their debut set including a song they’d written in a treehouse of all places. The

gig was a catalyst for the future and after leaving school Felix headed off to

Europe for a busking holiday where after few hours on the streets of old

Amsterdam he was handed a 50 Euro note. Holt promptly stopped playing to

spend it on much needed sustenance but the meagre change from the generous

passer-by’ kind gesture meant he didn’t have enough left for room and board for

the night. Felix ended up sleeping under the stars under a bush with his guitar as

a pillow as perhaps his musical heroes like Snooks Eaglin or Big Bill Broonzy may have done when they started out on the road in their early careers.

 

In his early twenties Felix became a regular on London’s vibrant acoustic scene

giving solo performances at venues and nights such as The Lantern Society at the

Betsey Trotwood, What’s Cooking in Leytonstone and the Easy Come Acoustic

Club ran by the rather wonderfully named Hank Dog. It was on this scene that

Felix met and became friends with musicians and future collaborators guitarist

Graham Farnworth and drummer Enrique ‘Kike ‘ Parra. Farnworth was a

member of the house band in the Punch Drunk Theatre’s critically acclaimed

production of ‘The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable’ and after the show ended

it’s sold out run other members of the house band including Musical Director and

piano wizard William South and bassist Peter Bennie came onboard as Felix’

band and Felix Holt & The Radicals were born.

 

The fruits of an intensive two day recording session at the legendary Toerag

studios in London with the Radicals were songs recorded in mono such as ‘Going

Back’, ‘Don’t Mess With Mine’, ‘Lonesome Mood’ and the aforementioned ‘Jump

Start’ which is available as a 7” single on Felix’ own label Fotdella Recordings -

the label is named after the foot-operated string bass musical instrument

invented and constructed by Jesse ‘The Lone Cat’ Fuller an American one-man

band who needed an accompaniment instrument beyond the usual foot operated

hi-hat or bass drum favoured by street musicians. One of the first records Felix

bought was a Jesse Fuller album from the now sadly closed JB Records of Soho

whose owner was a mentor to Felix. Holt has since repaid JB’s guidance with

respect as you’ll see on the jacket pocket of Felix ice cream man’s uniform in the

music video for ‘Jump Start’ is the neatly embroidered design of ‘JB’s Ices’.

 

Felix Holt & The Radicals are a powerhouse of a live band led by the gentleness

of Felix’ voice and the gravity of his lyrics and complimented by sax player Juan

Garcia and drummer ‘Ramblin’ Rob Heath replacing the now Madrid based Kike.

 

Later this year Felix Holt & The Radicals will release their as yet untitled debut

album and hopefully put Muswell Hill back on the musical map where it rightly

belongs.

 


     THE RADICALS:

Guitar: Graham Farnworth
Bass: Peter Bennie
Drums: Enrique "kike" Parra
Piano/Organ: William South
Saxophone: Juan Garcia
Drums: "Ramblin" Rob Heath
 


 
 

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