Brian Holwerda

Brian Holwerda: Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric)

Genre: Rock

RIYL: Blackout Party, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Sword, Gillian Welch

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Influences: Lightnin’ Hopkins, Sigur Rós


Singer/guitarist Brian Holwerda cites his parents among his influences. “My dad, with the music. He’s a ripping funk bass player, and he taught me all the fundamentals on the guitar. He’s a pretty intense, smart dude, and I can see a bit of that in my personality. But also my mom — she’s a lover and a mellow sweetheart, so I got a bit of her DNA in there to soften me up a bit.”

He says even his will is a testament to what he owes his folks, “to help pay them back for all the crap I put them through when I was younger. You could sell all my stuff and still not make enough to pay them back for all the crashed cars and unfinished college degrees.”

As for his best-known San Diego band, “Blackout Party came a bluesy, unplugged, acoustic-folk project,” says singer/guitarist Brian Holwerda. “The ‘Blackout’ was actually a reference to us playing without electricity at the time. We’ve since morphed into more of a face-melting rock group, definitely plugged in. The songwriting still comes from that foundation, though, three chords and the truth. We’re just a little louder now.”

Holwerda says he turned his back on heavy metal when his teen band Fine White China imploded shortly after recording one album for a European label, because, “I couldn’t see myself playing [metal] all my life.” Spending around three years as a server at the Sporting Club (“I’m a sports fanatic”) and then taking a similar position at Café Japengo (“I’ve been at the same job for a while and try to do my best while I’m on the clock”), Holwerda uses his off time to build up a musical résumé that includes playing and recording with John Meeks and cofounding Blackout Party in 2007.

He has recorded full-lengths with BP, as well as serving a year-long residency at Riviera Supper Club. “The last time we played Riviera Supper Club, there was a young lady who was dancing with her back to me right in front and her booty kept bumping the mic stand. I was doing a pretty good job dodging it until mid-set, when she did an extreme booty bump and knocked me hard right in the teeth! I was so mad, I stopped the song and got a little cranky with her, which I still feel bad about. If she’s out there reading this, I apologize for yelling. I thought you knocked my teeth out.”

Holwerda seems reluctant to certify his band as “Americana,” despite being slapped with that label in countless articles and multiple San Diego Music Awards nominations. “We actually won Best Americana [in 2011].... I’d say our sound is more like Southwestern swamp rock.”

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