The year of Covid, 2020, wreaked havoc on small businesses/organizations. “Weathering the Storm” will profile local businesses in an attempt to celebrate survival and the promise of calmer seas on the horizon. We ask about the enormous challenges they faced, how businesses adapted, what the future holds, and ultimately how, as a community, we may help them rise above the tides.
Chad Hollister in the studio with David Cook
If you’ve ever seen Marblehead musician Chad Hollister perform live, chances are you’ve heard, and even joined in, on one of his signature songs. The infectious hymn “Life” is a testament to embracing positivity. That mantra, coupled with raw talent, is what’s propelled Hollister’s success for 25 plus years.
Hollister’s connection to his fans is deep. He often addresses his followers by name during his performances or has them join him on the stage where the reciprocal emotion is contagious.
That human, face-to-face interaction was swept out from under him in early March of 2020. With his national tour canceled, Hollister quickly took to Facebook Live and Zoom in an effort to keep the intimacy alive.
“My shows are full of emotion that happens when we experience each other face to face,” Hollister said of his live shows. “What I love about Zoom is I could see faces, homes, dancing, and laughter.”
Chad Hollister at work at the Barrelman in Marblehead
It helped him to feel it in a small way too. The addition of private parties proved to be another “amazing tool to have. “
Hollister began his musical career after graduating from the University of Vermont in 1991, teaming up with childhood friend Jeff Wick. The pair began playing at local colleges throughout New England, and word spread quickly. Soon enough, “CHAD”, emerged as a four-piece band with fans flocking to breathe in the intoxicating vibe.
“We’ve been evolving ever since that four-piece band and have morphed into a monster nine-piece band featuring four horns, bass, drums, two guitars, and percussion. Five records later, we’re still kicking and growing with each song and live show,” says Hollister.
Early influences for Hollister include what he refers to as a “mash-up” of The Police, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, Bryan Adams, Paul Simon, Tom Petty, Bob Marley, and Kiss. His unique indie rock sound attracted the attention of renowned international music producer Anthony Resta who called Hollister’s music “pure alchemy.” Despite having opened for Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and Tom Petty, Hollister feels at home in Marblehead—the place he started his career at the Landing 25 years ago.
In addition to gigs at the Eastern, The Corinthian, and the BYC, Hollister has performed at the Marblehead Little Theater, The Marblehead Festival of the Arts, and post-Covid at the Barrelman.
A quarter-century later, Hollister’s lyrics for the gift of life have never resonated more.