Meet Griffin Holtby: Your Friendly Neighborhood Rock Star

His latest music combines Greek mythology with themes of loss, love, addiction

If someone pulls up next to you at a red light in Preston Hollow — cigarette in hand, windows rolled down and blasting rock and roll– that could be Griffin Holtby. 

The 20-year-old musician with a blues-influenced power rock style has played at several Dallas venues, including House of Blues, Hard Rock Cafe, Curtain Club, and Trees. 

From an early age, the young talent developed a love for music. 

“We used to live in Mexico, and when we would drive there, my dad would bring his iPod,” Holtby said. “He started playing rock, like Cream, The Who, stuff like that. It was fun, just listening to music and making 16-hour car rides to Mexico.”

Holtby’s skill first shined through while banging on pots and pans. A family friend noticed and urged Holtby’s parents to buy a real drum set. From there, Holtby went to music camps and programs and learned guitar, bass, and improved his singing. He attributes much of his success to teachers and artists he met along the way.

“I want it to help people not feel alone, to speak to people who are feeling down, or just be there for people who just want to rock out and drive fast.”

Griffin Holtby

He attended St. Mark’s School of Texas, transferred to Parish Episcopal School, and credits his high school experiences, some painful, for who he is as an artist.

“In high school, I started having problems with depression, anxiety, and addiction, and I had to leave St. Mark’s,” Holtby said. “There have been definite repercussions of that tough time in my life, and part of those repercussions is this closed-offness from the community. There’s a bit of a stuffiness in Dallas where nobody wants anyone to know what really goes on in their lives. The sad thing is that a time in my life where I was really hurting became, in the eyes of the public, just a time when I was being a really bad kid. And I wasn’t. I was just kind of lost.”

The pain was not without purpose. Holtby uses his experiences while working on “The Hell Series,” an EP that includes songs about loss, relationships, love, and addiction while incorporating Greek mythology themes. 

“This EP is a lot about transgressions and morality,” Holtby said. “I also read a lot of Percy Jackson and was intrigued by these ideas about Hades and the underworld and all this mythology. I wanted this epic hero’s journey to be played through in an EP. And some of the songs do reflect the life that I was living at the time I wrote it and dealing with depression and addiction.” 

Holtby’s goal is for people to hear his music and feel heard and understood. 

“I play for hope, and that’s really what connects people,” Holtby said. “Hope is what drives this idea that music can change people’s hearts and minds. I want it to help people not feel alone, to speak to people who are feeling down or just be there for people who just want to rock out and drive fast. All of that encapsulates what I do.”

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