Michael Holt is an American musician based in Toronto, Canada. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1968, and raised in New York City, where he learned to play the piano as a child. He was a childhood friend of sociologist Dalton Conley.
In high school (Hunter College High School) in the early 1980s, he formed a band called The Connotations, which played regularly at CBGB and other downtown clubs in New York. Holt played keyboards, sang, and wrote most of the group's songs. Other members included (at various times) Dan Seiden (guitar, vocals), Dan Fisherman (drums, vocals), Simon Walsh (bass guitar, vocals), Bob Dee (guitar), Sam Bardfeld (violin, percussion, vocals), Oren Bloedow (bass guitar), Jenny Wade (bass guitar), and Alexis Stern (vocals). The band's style was a combination of ska, new wave, reggae, pop, and a dissonant, angular style they called "Bug Music."
In 1988, The Connotations broke up and Holt formed a new band called Pajama Garden, with Connotations drummer Dan Fisherman, and bassist Oren Bloedow. In 1990, Holt began playing with progressive pop band The Mommyheads, and in 1991 released his first solo album, the experimental pop "Pajama Garden."
In 1992, Holt and Fisherman moved to San Francisco, California, to join The Mommyheads as permanent members. Other members of The Mommyheads included Adam Cohen (now Adam Elk) (guitar), Jeff Palmer (bass), and Matt Patrick (now Devin Patrick) (bass, guitar). Through the 90’s The Mommyheads toured North America extensively and released several albums, the last co-produced by Don Was for Geffen Records. In 1996 Holt married Cora Simone, a Canadian woman he had met on tour, who had come to live with him in San Francisco.
In 1998, The Mommyheads broke up and Holt released his contemplative folk album "I’m Here With You," featuring just voice and a single nylon-stringed guitar. Shortly after, he began work on his alternative power-pop album "Pilot Single," and moved with Simone to her native Toronto.
In Toronto, Holt started a band called The Kids, with bassist Peter Murray, guitarist David Celia, and longtime Ron Sexsmith drummer Don Kerr. All four members were singers, songwriters, multi-instrumentalists, and record producers in their own right.
While living full-time in Toronto, Holt finished and released "Pilot Single," released his classical-influenced album "Windows," made a low-fi split-CD with American indie-rock band Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, and toured Germany with San Francisco–based psychedelic jam-band Mushroom. He played and recorded with numerous Canadian artists, including Ron Sexsmith, David Celia, Owen Pallett, Michelle Rumball, Waleed Abdulhamid, The Hidden Cameras, Ronley Teper, Ben Gunning, Wooden Stars, Tanya Philipovich, Brian MacMillan, Karyn Ellis, and Adam Warner. He played the title track at the 20th anniversary of Bob Wiseman's record "In Her Dream," a song he would later record for his own album "Jubilation!"
In his first years in Canada, Holt became involved with a Toronto-area community called Living Circle, which explored holistic health, spirituality, and community-building, in intimate groups called “circles.”
In 2007, Holt began spending an increasing amount of his time on the road, mainly as a solo artist, and also with The Mommyheads, who reunited in 2008. In 2010, he made his folk-rock flavored album "The Dawn Chorus" with his band The Kids. Discovering a passion for house concerts, he began focusing his tours on them. His 2011 “Make Our Own Culture Tour” consisted of 60 intimate living room gatherings across North America and Europe, featuring a variety of other performers and participatory activities. In 2012, he released his '70s-pop tinged album "Jubilation!" and played on Bob Wiseman's record "Giulietta Masina at the Oscars Crying." He also played a European “Transition Culture Tour” of 40 intimate concerts followed by talking circles, in support of the Transition Towns sustainability movement.
Holt's interest in house concerts widened to include all kinds of cultural activities in the home. In 2014, he co-organized Toronto's First Annual Festival of House Culture, a weekend of theater, music, visual arts, poetry, comedy, film, food, conversations, and workshops, all in people's homes. Ten events were programmed within walking distance of each other, to build community by encouraging neighbors to connect through culture in their own homes.
In 2015, Holt released "24 Preludes for Piano," a double album of original classical pieces inspired by early 20th Century composers such as Maurice Ravel, Alexander Scriabin, and Erik Satie. He also put on Toronto's Second Annual Festival of House Culture, this time with 19 events, and simultaneous programming in two different neighborhoods.