Through the Eyes of the Holderbeast
By Mike 'Happy' Horton
A Familiar Face in a Sea of Strangers
As my pal Eric and I walked through the streets of the Marigny the sounds of the afternoon cocktail and light jazz crowd filled the air. Although this place has changed immensely, it is still so wildly reminiscent of the New Orleans I once knew as a young man. Making our way down Frenchman street I slipped a buck to a one legged homeless man atop a street-side solar powered auto-compacting trashcan. Approaching the Blue Nile I began to see the black and white promotional flyers for a variety of bands plaster the street-side window, I started to now feel a since of ease come over me knowing that not all things have changed that much. The large plain wooden side door of the Blue Nile opened, and through the sea of tourists with catchy slogan filled shirts and cameras around their necks, a bearded face appeared amongst the crowd and I heard a voice say “Hey Mikey! Up here man!” The face belonged to none other than videographer and photographer Mike Holderbeast. Mike quickly ushered Eric and I in, he slammed the door shut to prevent the normal slew of crowds from wandering in before opening to “check the place out”, which I am sure occurs more times daily than they could count. We walked up the creaky side stairs of the Blue Nile and into the upstairs bar. Mike grabbed a couple of stools for us and flipped them over as I scanned the room and stage area. Although it has since been remodeled and repaired I was wildly excited to see that the place that I have witnessed so many amazing bands pass through has kept a level of consistency that for most businesses has been lost.
After a few introductions and the normal correlations of mutual aquaintences and friends we began to talk. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, a period of time in the city where most had lost almost everything they had himself included, Mike felt the need to document not only the aftermath but the process of picking up the pieces and rebuilding. Always having a passion for photography, Mike went down and with money he probably did not have to spend on luxuries at the time, purchased a camera. Holderbeast began to capture images of devastation, but also the strength to endure that this city has had since its infancy. As New Orleans began to rebuild and grow so did his love and desire to show the world his perspective on his surroundings. As people began to return to their homes and businesses one other thing returned as well, The New Orleans Metal Scene. Once again on any given Friday the smell of stale cigarette smoke and whiskey filled the air while heavy guitar riffs that felt as though they were punching you in the face could be heard a block away. With his new found love and now equipment to do so he began to capture images of a world he had been involved with for many years already. Not only did the cities metal scene have its voice back; it also now had a powerful ally to capture and show the world that it too has endured. With his lens, Mike Holderbeast was now able to tell the story of generations of music that rocked the foundation of the metal scene to its fucking core. Pictures so raw and real that you can almost hear the sounds of such bands as Crowbar, Down, and Exhorder right through them. Through the power of these still images his following began to grow and so did he. Purchasing video equipment, Mike began to do something to his images that made them even more powerful; he gave them a voice. With gritty black and white videos he was now broadcasting to the world the intimate shows that metal and music fans were often times distraught they missed out on. His ability to capture these moments in its rawest purist form is incredible, like watching a modern day bearded Picasso that not only can paint a masterpiece that could probably kick your ass. With his newly acquired space and project Cement Level studios, along with a truly impressive list of bands he is working with, Mike remains humble and focused on his goals. His passion and vision along with his personality have a certain gravitational pull drawing you in and making you feel as enthusiastic and excited as he is.
I Hate to See You Go, But I Love to Watch You Leave
After what seemed like hours we stood up and slid our barstools in he walked us downstairs to the main bar area where we could see the evening patrons begin to trickle in. After a little small talk, a shot of whiskey and seeing a few familiar faces, he gave us a handshake and a smile and we were on our way. As I exited the bar slightly blinded by the evening sun Eric and I made our way back down Frenchman street. Only this time I had a slight smirk on my face, confidently knowing that people would now be able to see the city of New Orleans and it’s music through the eyes of the beast. You can check out his latest on mikeholderbeast.com along with his amazing portfolio.
=*Reference Points Go Here
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