Four-time Grammy Award-winning folk musician David Holt is a born troubadour. Behind his energizing musicianship (often featuring unusual instruments like "the paper bag") is a deep love of hidden Appalachian wisdom and storytelling that shines on every stage he takes.

Why you should listen

As a youngster, David Holt knew he wanted to master the banjo. His quest to that end brought him into the tucked-away communities of the remote Appalachian Mountains, where traditional folk music is still ingrained in the way of life. In his years there, he met some too-enchanting-to-be-true characters and a few local living legends (Wade Mainer, Dellie Norton) -- complete with anecdotes from older and harder times. He also picked up some unusual musical skills beyond the banjo: he's now a virtuoso of the mouth bow, the bottleneck slide guitar and the paper bag.

Holt has won four Grammys and has starred in several radio and television programs, such as Folkways, which visits regional craftsmen and musicians. (He also performed in the 2000 film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?.) He currently tours the country doing solo performances, and accompanied by his band The Lightning Bolts.

What others say

“The best minstrel-storyteller is David Holt.” — Vogue

David Holt’s TED talk

More news and ideas from David Holt


Playing mountain music: David Holt on

December 8, 2008

Folk musician and storyteller David Holt plays the banjo and shares photographs and old wisdom from the Appalachian Mountains. He also demonstrates some unusual instruments like the mouth bow — and a surprising electric drum kit he calls “thunderwear.” (Recorded March 2004 in Monterey, California. Duration: 25:31.) Watch David Holt’s talk on, where you […]

Continue reading