“Watermelon Slim was probably our most popular concert last year.” says Performing Arts Studio Executive Director Nancy McClellan. “It is no surprise that he was nominated for six Blues Music Awards by the Blues Foundation in Memphis and was inducted into the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame on May 26.”
The Wheel Man, Slim’s latest album released on April 17, debuted at #9 on Billboard Blues Charts. It is the second album for Watermelon Slim and the Workers, and Slim’s fourth album in five years. Throughout his storied past, it has always been truck driving that Slim returned to. Many of Slim's current songs began a cappella in his rig keeping him awake and entertained.
Bill “Watermelon Slim” Holman was born in Boston and raised in North Carolina listening to his maid sing John Lee Hooker and other blues songs around the house. His father was a progressive attorney and ex-freedom rider and his brother is now a classical musician. Slim dropped out of Middlebury College to enlist for Vietnam. While laid up in a Vietnam hospital bed he taught himself upside-down left-handed slide guitar on a $5 balsawood model using a triangle pick cut from a rusty coffee can top and his Army issued Zippo lighter as the slide.
In the following 30 plus years Slim has been a truck driver, forklift operator, sawmiller (where he lost part of his finger), firewood salesman, collection agent, and even officiated funerals. At one point he was forced to flee Boston where he played peace rallies, sit-ins and rabble roused musically with the likes of Bonnie Raitt. He ended up farming watermelons in Oklahoma - hence his stage name and current home base.
Somewhere in those decades Slim completed two undergrad degrees in history and journalism, a masters degree in history from OSU, and became a member of Mensa.
In 2002 Slim suffered a near fatal heart attack. His brush with death gave him a new perspective on mortality, direction and life ambitions. He says, "Everything I do now has a sharper pleasure to it. I've lived a fuller life than most people could in two. If I go now, I've got a good education, I've lived on three continents, and I've played music with a bunch of immortal blues players. I've seen an awful lot and I've done an awful lot. If my plane went down tomorrow, I'd go out on top."
Summer Breeze Concerts are produced by the Performing Arts Studio and made possible by grants from the Norman Arts Council, Oklahoma Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support comes from Sponsors Michael Miller; Jamie Belknap D.D.S. and Donna Sparks D.D.S.; Skye Diers, Gingerbread Nursery School; and Victor T. Wilson, M.D. P.C., Caring Pediatrics. Contributors include Corner Post Management and Consulting; Physical Therapy Central; and Republic Bank and Trust. Friends include Ed and Sumya Adwon; American First Abstract Co; The Crucible; The Earth Natural Foods; First State Bank; David Fries Roofing; Mark and Becky Wilson, MDS Plumbing; Pepe Delgados; T. J. Campbell Construction; Cardinal Engineering; and The Zoo Amphitheater. In-kind support comes from Montford Inn; Residence Inn of Norman; Norman Parks and Recreation Department; The University of Oklahoma; Gilliam Music; The Deli; and the Summer Breeze Stage Crew.
For additional concert information, contact The Performing Arts Studio at 405-307-9320. For additional information on Watermelon Slim, visit http://www.watermelonslim.com/