It seems like Mark Holland’s been looking for the right expression of his roots influences for years. Part of the brother team leading North Carolina’s Jennyanykind, Holland has recently concentrated his energies on a country-blues style that feels right. His threads feel pretty good, too.
“Over the last few years, even my stage clothes have moved toward a Delta blues look and feel,” Holland says. “I wear a white button-down and a skinny black tie, black pants, and boots. I look like Howlin’ Wolf.”
Holland and brother Michael started Jennyanykind playing jangly indie rock, scoring a major label cup of tea on 1996’s Revelator. They released three more roots, soul, and blues-oriented albums before breaking up in ’03. After they went their separate ways, Mark started several combos, including greasy blues/folk rockers Jule Brown and the glam-psych-soul of Mark Holland’s Rhythm Force. Only the last three years has solo playing begun to take precedence.
Holland’s current set is a stew of influences. He cites vaudeville, ragtime, and “a 1930s, Charlie Patton vibe.” The economics of touring make performing solo the way to go, but Holland has never felt truly comfortable as a singer/songwriter. He prefers “one-man-band,” so the sometime-drummer added a harmonica, learned some slide guitar to mix it up, and strapped a tambourine to his foot.
“Dressing more to the part and adding those three things brought the whole package together,” he says. “It became effortless.”
Though based in Delta and country blues, Holland strives for “an originality that doesn’t copy traditional blues circles.” Adding the harmonica and percussion really let him create a full-bodied sound. “It’s a rhythmic, pulsing, driving experience,” he says.
Holland has some good news for Jennyanykind fans. The band reunited last year and released new rcordings as the brothers excised years of built-up scar tissue and had a good time. “We’re waiting for that to gel,” says Holland. “This year will be for writing and arranging new material for whatever we do next, which will probably be a record.”