Guitarist and singer-songwriter Malcolm Holcombe has been around the world playing music, but he’s still a country boy at heart. Speaking from his home in rural North Carolina earlier this week, Holcombe paused in the middle of answering a question to give directions to a lost motorist who made a few wrong turns and ended up in his driveway.
“It happens all the time up here in the mountains,” Holcombe said with a laugh. “People get all kinds of turned around and we need to get them pointed back in the right direction.”
Holcombe will perform June 16 at the Elk Creek Cafe and Aleworks as part of the venue’s Sunday Supper Sessions series. He will play solo acoustic and said the set should focus primarily on his two most recent albums, “Down the River” (2012) and “To Drink the Rain” (2011).
“I’ll just be a fella up there picking acoustic guitar and singing the blues,” Holcombe said. “I’m out there plodding along playing all over, and I’m grateful to have spent a lot of time in Pennsylvania.”
Holcombe’s music has been described as the place where haunted blues, rugged country and rugged folk meet. Listening to “Down the River,” one can hear vocals reminiscent of Howlin’ Wolf or Tom Waits paired with melodies and guitar riffs that could have come from Steve Earle or Neil Young.
He counts all of those musicians as influences and said he’s also inspired by writers like John Steinbeck and fellow North Carolina native Thomas Clayton Wolfe, who tell stories of simple people trying to get by one day at a time.
“Most people have to express themselves in some way or another and I just happen to do it through music,” Holcombe said. “Telling stories that’s what we do as humans and our lives depend on them.”