Holly Brook

Features 10 Jan 2003

Holly Brook has been singing professionally for almost ten years now. Along with her mother, Candace Krietlow, they’ve been performing and recording as the duo Generations and last year they released their third CD entitled Milenium Child/Waiting For You. She’s been performing at Magnus lately with Jeff Eckels on bass. She’s recorded with some of Madison’s most respected musicians including Eckels (of Whad’ Ya Know fame), pianist Anthony Cao (Lisa G & Montage), guitarist Louka Patenaude and keyboardist Tim Whalen (Leo Sidran’s New Breed Quintet), harmonica virtuoso Frank Furillo (The Rousers), bassist Mary Gaines and violinist Chris Wagoner (The Moon Gypsies), percussionist Ian Cunningham, and others.  She’s appeared on albums by Phat Phunktion and Ken Lonnquist and also had a part in Lonnquist’s musical The Legend Of Old Belfana.  She’s also sung for commercial ads, most notably an anti-tobacco ad that ran extensively. Holly Brook has only recently turned sixteen.

It’s a pivotal period for Holly; she’s standing at a crossroads. Millenium Child/Waiting For You marks a huge step forward for her.  It features six of her original compositions and they’re remarkably well written and arranged. Her voice has a maturity that at once calls to mind Sarah McLachlan and Joni Mitchell, both of whom she covers on the CD, and Suzanne Vega. Up to this point the material and performances she has done with Generations have been geared for younger audiences. But Holly’s tastes are changing and so is her musical style.

Though she’s gained a reputation as a jazz singer of late she gravitates more toward pop and rock. “I’ve enjoyed my gigs at the Magnus but I feel like background music there,” she says. “I like to talk to the audience more and the jazz stuff I do is fine, but I do it because that’s what people at the Magnus want to hear.”

I visited her recently at their home in Mazomainie where we talked in a beautiful sitting room with a piano. She possesses a personality that can fill a room and is very charming, even a bit nervous at being interviewed. “What I really want to do is put a band together, a standard rock outfit, but it’s hard to find people that are willing to commit to that. I just want to find some good players who will believe in my music and want to support that.”

Possible candidates take note: this girl has a real future in front of her.  She’s dripping in talent and enthusiasm but, additionally, she has influence and the ability to make connections.

Recently she and Candace partook in the TAXI convention in Los Angeles. (TAXI is the world’s leading independent A&R company helping unsigned bands, artists and songwriters get record deals, publishing deals and placement in films and TV shows. (www.taxi.com ) After missing out on the luck-of-the-draw chance to perform on the open stage she persuaded her way to the stage anyway, making connections there with some of independent music’s biggest names. The experience had a profound impact on her.  She’s learning about promotion and marketing now and staying in touch with the contacts she’s made. She’s also pondering the course that she will take now.

“I’m not sure where I can go to perform now,” she says. “My music has changed and the venues I’ve played in the past are no longer suitable.”  She’s not quite ready for the clubs and I sense a little intimidation in her at mixing it up with the cream of the crop in Madison’s entertainment scene. And yet, there seems to be no other way for her to go than to the top. Let’s hope she gets out in the area with a supporting band. We need to embrace this talent as our own before she steps up to the big leagues, which, if you were to ask me, is bound to happen.

Millenium Child/Waiting For You is a conscious attempt at pushing Holly’s talents to the fore and launching her as an independent artist. It is interesting to observe the relationship between Holly and Candace.  They obviously have a very special and very deep emotional bond that goes way beyond the music they share. Or perhaps it’s the music that they share that is the result of their harmonious and obvious love for each other.  But Holly is leaving the nest and the sense of that pervades the atmosphere when they’re together.  I can feel the release that Candace is helping to orchestrate and it’s one of those perfect situations where the sadness is exactly tempered by an extreme emotional support and parental pride. One of those beautiful things that somehow gives you hope in the human race; that direct human contact can create things bigger than us all and instill the hope that love will yet save us.            

Candace has musical gifts of her own, being a fine guitarist and vocalist. She’s been performing and recording for many years with Katie Waldren as Heartwood (www.heartwoodproductions.com), releasing numerous recordings and gaining acclaim for their Appalachian and Celtic folk blend.

Holly has taken to another prodigal singer/songwriter from Chicago, David Thiele (www.davidthiele.com), whom she has a real appreciation for.  They’ve been performing together and chances are they will also collaborate in the future. And although she is strikingly good looking, Holly doesn’t have much interest in developing any relationships other than her relationship with music right now. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the album closer “Music” her love song to her obsession and motivation. ‘I lit a candle/ set it on the piano/ wrote a song about the love life that I’ve sewn/ Just to be alone with/ Music…and a stage.’

Holly Brook and music make perfect partners.

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About the author

Rick Tvedt

Rick is publisher of Local Sounds Magazine, formerly Rick's Cafe, Wisconsin's Regional Music Newspaper. He is also the Executive Director for MAMA, Inc., a non-profit organization that produces the Madison Area Music Awards and raises funds to promote youth music programs.

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