Texture, nuance, and a gift for dexterous high-wire improvisation are the hallmarks of San Francisco-based classically trained pianist Holly Bowling, who infuses jam band music with a technically advanced, emotionally rich style. After studying piano performance at SF State University, Bowling has turned her agile mind and interpretive prowess to the works of Phish on 2013’s Distillation Of A Dream album and the Grateful Dead focused Better Left Unsung (released December 9, 2016 through The Royal Potato Family). Her instantly compelling playing and unerring ability to successfully collaborate with other musicians in an impressive array of styles has brought her to the attention of Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes, and other luminaries who’ve asked Bowling to perform with them. Already a rising star on the festival circuit, Bowling plans to continue to expand her solo touring, and recently formed a new band Ghost Light with Tom Hamilton, Steve Lyons, Raina Mullen and Scotty Zwang.
Holly Bowling is a classically trained pianist who began playing piano at the age of five. There’s one major distinction, however, that separates her from other similarly studied musicians. That is Holly’s devotion to the legendary rock band Phish. Having attended over 300 shows by the Burlington-based quartet, she became obsessed by their famous rendition of “Tweezer” from Lake Tahoe on July 31, 2013. It led Holly to transcribe this 37-minute improvisational masterpiece note-for-note and arrange it for solo piano. The process, both painstaking and fulfilling, inspired her to transform other Phish songs and well-known live jams into solo piano interpretations. Holly’s breathtaking renditions of Phish classics like “It’s Ice,” “The Squirming Coil” and “Harry Hood” serve not only as a tribute to the modern day kings of jam, but stand on their own as fully developed classical pieces. The past year has seen Holly expand her repertoire into the realm of the Grateful Dead, including an “Eyes of the World” based on the band’s spectacular exploratory June 18, 1974 performance at Freedom Hall. Using classical piano technique to reinterpret these jamband luminaries, Holly’s live performances infuse new with old, tradition with surreal, and creates a concert experience like nothing else in the music world.