Down Under slide-guitarist Dave Hole sports an over-the-top style



By Steve Newton

As a musically inclined teenager living in Perth, Australia, during the 1960s, Dave Hole didn’t get the opportunity to hear much music by the great American bluesmen of the time. One fateful day, however, a member of his teenaged cover band got his hands on a Muddy Waters album.

From then on, Hole was hooked.

“We had formed a little band to play Beatles and Rolling Stone covers,” recalls Hole, on the line from Cleveland. “We were only a few months into it, but we did notice that a lot of the Rolling Stones songs were written or recorded by Jimmy Reed and Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters and so on. The other guitar player in the band managed to get hold of the Muddy Waters album Folk Singer, which was an acoustic one, actually, with a very young Buddy Guy helping out on guitar.

“That was the first sorta deep blues that I heard,” he adds. “I hadn’t heard anything that powerful before, and it was quite stunning to me. I was 16 years old at the time.”

Now 45, Hole has been stunning blues fans himself with his recent slide guitar–drenched recordings for Alligator Records. He actually landed the deal with the Chicago-based blues label after Guitar Player writer Jas Obrecht—who was completely blown away by Hole’s self-financed Short Fuse Blues release—called up Alligator president Bruce Iglauer to spread the word on the unknown Aussie.

“Magnificent, staggering, almost beyond belief,” wrote Obrecht with regard to Hole’s wicked slide work, which he performs with a unique, over-the-top-of-the-neck style. That innovative technique wasn’t something that Hole initially strove to develop on his own, though.

“I started to play slide in the normal way,” he explains, “with the slide on the left-hand pinkie. I had been doing this for a couple of weeks when I had an injury to that finger playing football, so I had to have that finger put in a cast for a couple of months. In the meantime, I amused myself by just sort of dangling the slide over the top of the neck with the index finger of the left hand, and the style just sort of stuck. When the cast came off, I found that I was more comfortable with the style that I’d improvised.”

Local blues fans and slide-guitar fanatics can check out Hole’s wild style themselves when he makes his Vancouver debut at the Yale on Sunday (November 21). Guitar buffs everywhere are placing him in the same league as slide heroes Johnny Winter and Duane Allman.

“I don’t necessarily subscribe to that publicity,” says the modest rocker, “but I’d certainly take that if people want to put me in that company, because they are two of the very best.”

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