Jonathan Holden’s Rhythm and Roots Concert Series introduced audiences to some of the finest touring musicians, of whom many would have never made it to Southern Arizona without his efforts.
An ethnomusicologist at heart, Jonathan’s passion was American music. He studied its history and its deep roots. He was passionate about sharing the social and cultural significance of the music he loved. With this in mind, he founded Rhythm & Roots Concert Series in 1996. Jonathan’s personal belief and his own motto, Music is Medicine, became the tagline for the series, echoing his sentiments. Performances often included an educational aspect or Q&As with the artists. Audiences emerged with a deeper appreciation of the featured musician, their music, and its origins.
Jonathan arrived in Tucson to attend the University of Arizona and to work as a DJ at the rock station KWFM. In 1973 he transferred to San Francisco State where he completed a degree in broadcasting. Jonathan often said his “real education” came out of the San Francisco music scene, with too many Winterland concerts to count.
Upon returning to Tucson, Jonathan worked at KUAT and was also part of the group that started our community radio station KXCI, where he served on the first Board of Directors. Over the years Jonathan worked with the Window Rock School District, Carondelet Hospitals, the University of Arizona, KUAT and others.
A few memorable Rhythm and Roots shows include Richie Havens, Pine Top Perkins, Maria Muldar, Billie Jo Shaver, Mose Allison, Eliza Gilkinson, Slaid Cleaves, Chris Smither, The Savoy Family Band, The Texas Tornados with Flaco Jimenez, Buckwheat Zydeco, Perfect Strangers, Ralph Stanley, Dave Von Ronk, Sons of the Pioneers, New Riders of the Purple Sage, author Michael Blake and the John Coinman Band.