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Southern rockers say goodbye at Vail show

Aaron Butzen
Daily correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyOutformation, which formed in 2002, is bringing its farewell tour to Vail Friday
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VAIL, Colorado –Southern jam-rock trio Outformation, which plays in Vail Friday, is the embodiment of the phrase “short but sweet.”

The Atlanta-based band has only been playing full-time for a few years, but in that time, it has experienced unusually rapid success and amassed a legion of loyal fans across the country. Some might find it odd, then, that the group is embarking on its “farewell run” – four final shows in Colorado before Outformation goes the way of the buffalo. According to guitarist and vocalist Sam Holt, the band members just didn’t see eye to eye about the future of the band, and breaking up was the only viable option.

“A lot of us just had different ideas about continuing, and not everyone was on the same page, and we had to respect that,” Holt said. “You know, we came into it together. … We’ve always been a democracy since the day we started, and one person’s opinion didn’t hold any more weight than the others.”



And although Holt won’t go as far as to say that the band will never play another show again, this run of Colorado shows is probably fans’ last chance to catch the band as they know it.

“I never say we’ll never play together again, but I don’t think we’ll hit it as hard as we have been in the past few years,” Holt said. “Never say never. I can’t really speculate or speak for anyone else, but I would never say never as far as that goes. We put a lot of our lives into it and a lot of our heart and soul, so you never know.”



Holt has indeed put a lot of energy into Outformation since forming the band in 2002. Holt had been working as a guitar tech for jam titan Widespread Panic when that band’s original guitarist – and Holt’s friend – Michael Houser died.

That was the motivation Holt needed to pursue his own musical path, he has said, and in addition to filling in on guitar for a few Panic shows, he started pumping out Outformation’s exploratory Southern rock in between Widespread tours. Holt eventually left Panic’s employment in 2007 to focus full-time on Outformation, and he seems a little wistful about calling it quits now.

“I have nothing but respect for the band and everything we’ve done and everybody in it,” Holt said. “Who knows if we’ll play again? Hopefully we will – I mean, I’d love it. It’s about my favorite thing to do in the world.”



Likewise, Holt is clearly pumped up about the farewell run, which he said promises to be as fun for the band members as for the audience.

“This is just a way to go out and have fun and not care about what people think and just go out and get our ya-yas out,” Holt said. “I’m really excited to play. … Just really excited to go out there and just play and leave it all out there and just do our thing.”

Colorado is the lucky recipient of the farewell run at least partially because Holt lives out here now – he moved to Boulder after the Outformation decision was made so he could be with his girlfriend and get involved in the state’s robust live music scene. Colorado is also the first place the band played it first ventured out of the Southeast to tour.

“We cut our teeth out here in 2004,” Holt said. “Every time we’ve played Colorado, we’ve had a really good response. … It just made sense.”

Fans of Holt’s hypnotic, greasy guitar style will still be able to catch him around these parts. He has been playing shows regularly around the state with a new band, Dyrty Byrds. He also has been doing some solo and “Sam Holt and Friends” shows, with more in the works. He has a show set up with Daniel Hutchens of Athens, Ga.-based band Bloodkin that will be billed as “Out 4 Blood.” Holt said although he’s still figuring things out, he’s not looking to take a break.

“I’m just trying to get my legs under me out here and then just figure what exactly the right path to choose is,” Holt said. “Just trying to get my bearings and play music as much as possible.”


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