By Claire Drewniak
When Mike Montali and his bandmates were looking to name their group, they chose Hollis Brown, from an obscure Bob Dylan song.
“That is something that has stayed with us, paying homage to our heroes,” said Montali.
That’s what they’ll be doing on April 10, 2021, at the Mayo Performing Arts Center, where they will recreate the Rolling Stones’ Aftermath album, which turns 55 years old this year.
(The Stones know something about tributes, too–they pinched their moniker from a Muddy Waters song.)
Before Hollis Brown became Hollis Brown, Montali and lead guitarist Jonathan Bonilla developed their music interests in Queens, where they attended high school and Queens College together.
Rounding out the band are Andrew Zehnal (drums), Adam Bock (keys), and Chris Urriola (bass). Since 2013, they have released an EP and two albums of original music, along with a tribute to the Velvet Underground’s LOADED album.
Rolling Stone magazine has praised Hollis Brown’s “blue-collar rock & roll spirit,” which blends classic rock with indie rock, infused with dance-worthy rhythms.
After releasing its 2019 album, Ozone Park, Hollis Brown has been waiting out the pandemic, doing livestream performances.
While the MPAC show will have a livestream option, it also will welcome an in-person audience, albeit a small one, in line with Gov. Murphy’s capacity limits.
“We kind of developed into a professional livestream. But for me, music is about connection, and there’s nothing better than performing live,” said Montali, who sings and plays guitar.
Going forward, “we’re going to try to do an album, and a full tour, so we can come out of the pandemic with a big swing,” he added.
Fans of Hollis Brown also can hear the group’s music in the film Bad Country, and in series such as Showtime’s Shameless and MTV’s Real World.
“Everything we do or get has sort of happened organically,” Montali said. “We work really hard to make it something, but all you can really do in music, or in general, as a rock or indie rock band, is create what you feel authentically, and see where it connects.”
Hollis Brown will perform a tribute to the Rolling Stones’ Aftermath album on April 10, 2021, at 7:30 pm in the Mayo Performing Arts Center, 100 South St., Morristown. In-theater tickets are $29-$39, livestream is $25. Call 973-539-8008.