Local songwriter advances to Aspen festival

Matt and Shana Holliday playing music at Elk Creek with former vice president Dan Quayle in the audience.

Matt and Shana Holliday playing music at Elk Creek with former vice president Dan Quayle in the audience.
MEEKER I Matt Holliday is probably best-known in the Meeker area for his ability to emcee an event with a lively mix of humor, humility and live entertainment. He is also an accomplished songwriter.
Holliday won one of six prestigious regional contests in the Colorado’s Best Songwiter contest, a new addition to the third annual 7908 Aspen Songwriter’s Festival, which is “committed to creating the shortest distance between the writer’s voice and the audience’s ear.” Competitions were held in Breckenridge, Vail, Steamboat Springs, Aspen, Winter Park and Boulder. Holliday won the Winter Park contest.
“There were about 30 contestants in Winter Park from all over the state. I am truly honored to win, as the talent in that room was amazing,” he said.
The six finalists, chosen on originality, talent and presentation, will receive three nights lodging in Aspen March 21-23, during which time they will perform in “several of Aspen’s best-loved bars,” and receive a full-festival pass. Judges will visit the performances to choose the overall winner, who will get to perform at the Wheeler Opera House before the final show of the festival, sharing the stage with festival producing partner John Oates of the award-winning 1980’s duo Hall and Oates.
Holliday grew up in Helena, Mont., in what he describes as “a very musical family.”
“My grandmother was truly a musical inspiration to me,” he said. “She was one of the most incredible gospel piano players in the country, and traveled across the country playing in gospel singing conventions for 50 years. She instilled this love of music in her daughter (my mom), and both my sister and myself. Some of my earliest memories involve standing around the piano with my family singing songs for hours.”
Holliday plays piano, guitar, bass guitar, mandolin, “and even a little banjo as well.” The guitar is his primary instrument.
“We moved here in 1998,” Holliday said. He works at Elk Creek Ranch as a guide, and guides elk hunts for H & H Outfitters. “We truly enjoy living here, and believe it is the best place in Colorado to raise our family.” That family includes his wife, Shana, and two children, Mason, 8, and Ruby, 7.
“My wife Shana has a beautiful voice and we were brought together through singing 21 years ago. Singing together continues to be my favorite part of my musical life.”
“I currently play in two different bands, one in Steamboat called Me & Ed’s Music Machine…the other in Winter Park, called The Deal. Both bands play an array of original songs that we are constantly trying to add to.”
“I have an extremely wide range of musical tastes and influences. I grew up listening to country music, and while you can still hear those influences in my music, I consider my main influences to be southern rockers like the Allman Brothers and the Drive By Truckers. Neil Young has always been a huge part of my musical taste, as has the Grateful Dead and Widespread Panic. I’ve never lost sight of my country roots, and still lllooooovvvee listening to the likes of Shooter Jennings, Robert Earl Keen and Hank III.”
Holliday said he’s excited that two singer/songwriters he considers an inspiration, James McMurtry and Darell Scott, will be at this year’s Aspen festival. For the complete lineup of artists, visit www.aspensongwritersfestival.com. Full festival passes are $195, or 35 percent off the single ticket price for all 12 shows. For more information, please call Wheeler Opera House marketing coordinator Lauren Pierce at 970-920-5787, or email laurenp@ci.aspen.co.us.
Holliday will perform locally in Meeker with his wife on April 28 at the Lions Club dinner. On May 12 his band is booked for a third year in a row to perform at the hospital banquet, and a performance is scheduled with the Recreation Center on July 21.