Holt’s love of music once took him into the Appalachian Mountains with a dog and a friend in a 1952 Chevy. He spent a summer in the late ’70s traveling among festivals and bars learning, eventually working to preserve the music and manners of the surrounding hills. An ethnomusicologist as much as performer, Holt’s become something of a curator while hosting shows like TNN’s Fire on the Mountain
and American Music Shop
, the seven-part Folkways
series for PBS and public radio’s Riverwalk Jazz
show. Holt has won a Grammy, been nominated four times and released more than a dozen albums during the last 30 years.
Wilcox is much more of modern folkie, stylistically descended from ’70s icons such as Joni Mitchell and James Taylor. Like Taylor, Wilcox possesses a graceful tenor. His folk approach depends on a certain stateliness, matching the music’s frequent philosophical cast. His humble headiness and confident croon have earned attention, while his unwillingness to settle is epitomized by the way he’ll change his guitar tunings while writing. There’s an almost busy energy to Wilcox’s compositions, like there’s always a radio going in the background.
David LaMotte’s music, however, is often much quieter and more delicate, though it can display a similar soulful slink, as on 2003’s doubt-lined “Look.”
LaMotte’s taken the uplift of his songs and stories and put it to work in different ways. He received the Rotary World Peace Fellowship, for instance, and worked as an activist in Guatemalan schools and libraries and as a peacemaker visiting conflict zones such as Bosnia and Haiti. Recently he released his third book, World Changing 101: Challenging the Myth of Powerlessness
The Saturday, July 11, show with The Three Davids comes from Six String Presents and the Cary Arts Council. It begins at 8 p.m. at the Cary Arts Center. Tickets cost $30–$35 and are still available
They aren’t quite The Three Tenors, but the pedigrees of The Three Davids—David Holt, David Wilcox, David LaMotte—are still impressive. They’re all North Carolina residents that cut their own path through backwoods roots while nourishing folk’s storytelling impulse.