The many musical facets of John Holenko

John Holenko initially arrived in the Lowcountry to teach at the College of Charleston, but soon pivoted to start his own school in West Ashley, Hungry Monk Music, where he and a handful of other like-minded musicians have provided instruction to students of all ages and abilities for nearly 30 years.

Outside of the classroom, he’s usually found lending his highly-regarded skills to an eclectic assortment of projects such as Gatsby Orchestra (1920s-style big band), Porto Seguro (Brazilian choro), Mr. Charlie (Americana/blues) and Fried Rainbow Trout (Irish/Celtic folk). 

Holenko told the City Paper that he can’t imagine leading any other kind of life, although it’s hard for him to say precisely when this path first became clear to him.

His grandmother had a lot to do with igniting his musical spark by introducing him to two distinct record collections, Holenko said. The first haul belonged to his mother and uncle and included 45s from 1950s rockers Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Bill Hailey. 

The second record haul that sparked his intrigue was all over the genre spectrum.  

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