Mandan News

Making musical memories of her mother

Holly Wood and John Lamirande, who together make the music group Drive-By Confession, in a music studio. Wood is the daughter of Jeanette Holm, and recently completed in CD in honor of her mother. Submitted photos

By Brian L. Gray

People are remembered in many different ways.

From thoughts and memories that capture special moments with the loved one, to actions that commemorate the life of the person that has passed away, people find ways to memorialize those that are no longer with us, but have left behind unforgettable impressions on us while they lived.

For Holly Wood, the daughter of Logan and Jeanette Holm – who is best known by Mandan residents as The Hat Lady – she has chosen to use music to honor her mother, who passed away in July 2010.

Wood recently released a CD entitled “The Hat Lady,” which features six songs she wrote specifically in honor of her mother.

It was a few years ago that Wood teamed up with musician friend of hers, John Lamirande, and began writing and performing music. The duo, in a short amount of time, compiled over 60 original songs.

Inevitably, Wood’s songwriting lyrics turned to her mother, which eventually evolved into the songs featured in the CD that she dedicated to Jeanette Holm.

Wood graduated from Mandan High School in 1991. From there she attended University of Mary, majoring in music performance. She went there for three years before transferring to the University of North Texas, where she majored in bassoon performance, eventually receiving a master’s in this degree.

She then enlisted in the Army, where Wood joined the U.S. Army Field Band, which she did for 10 years, playing the bassoon for the group. Wood met her musical partner, Lamirande, while in the band, who was also a member. They teamed up and named their group Drive-By Confession.

The name came from their Catholic upbringing. “The schedule of the Army Band is a hectic one,” Wood says, “so when we were performing for the band and also working on arranging our own songs, we were in one town one day, then another the next. The name came as kind of a joke from John, who said that was the way we would have to do our confessions.”

The traveling lifestyle also led to their style of album arranging and recording. It wasn’t a rare occasion that Wood and Lamirande would hold recording sessions in hotel rooms in between gigs. This constant on-the-go process was also another reason they named their first album, “Hotel Coffee.”

Wood recently retired from the Army in order to be a stay at home mom. She currently lives in Maryland.

While Wood has been a musician most her life, songwriting is a new pursuit to her. This was where Lamirande came in handy. “I’m new to guitar playing and songwriting, so having a seasoned professional like him helped me make that adjustment,” Wood says.

Throughout it all, her parents were her biggest supporters. One comment Wood’s mother would often say to her while Wood was attending college and playing the bassoon in the Army Band was that she wished Wood would sing more. That advice became a driving factor in beginning her music group, and revive her singing voice once again.

“Once I told her I was in this band and singing again, she was so excited,” Wood says. While writing songs with Lamirande, Wood would often send her parents constant updates of her songs, for critiquing.

You can hear or purchase samples of the songs online at Itunes.com. Or if anyone is interested in purchasing copies of the CDs, you can email Wood at drivebyconfession@yahoo.com, or call her father, Logan, at 663-5407. Copies of “The Hat Lady” are $5 each.

Wood also produced a slideshow film for her mom, which is narrated by a song Wood wrote for her and also sang at her funeral, entitled, “Sometimes.” The video is also posted on YouTube.

Wood was adopted by the Holms when she was 2 1/2 months old. The Holms had four children, three of whom were adopted, including Holly, who Jeanette and her husband ended up buying for $150.

“My mom always joked that it was the best $150 they ever spent,” Wood says.

Wood is continuing her mother’s legacy in another way as well – she was the one in her family who chose to inherit her mother’s hat collection.

There are over 300 hats in the collection, with many of them dating over 100 years old.

Hats were important to Jeanette, and Wood found this out when she first listened to one of her mother’s presentations about her collection, which Jeanette had done for several years all across the Midwest. The presentation drove Wood to tears, listening to how much Jeanette cared for what was less of a collecting hobby, put a personal passion.

Even during Jeanette’s funeral, those who attended were encouraged to wear their favorite hats. “It was a great time. Our mother would have loved it,” Wood says.

Wood hasn’t quite decided what she’ll do with all of the hats. She says there’s a chance she may donate a few to be put on display somewhere.

She has also considered doing public presentations on the hat collection, picking up where her mother left off.

Wood practices a song with musician John Lamirande.

Walking on Glass

lyrics by Holly Wood

Take my advice she said, get yourself back to bed

Things will look different tomorrow, tomorrow morn

The voice inside my head, that’s what she’s always been

She’s been gone now for a while

Feels like I’m walking on glass, walking on glass

Sharp edges of the day, in the night

Feels like I’m walking on glass, walking on glass

Waiting for the time, things are right

Weight of the world on my back, desperate to stay on track

It’s so clear now what she went through

If she had told me then, how difficult it’d been

I’d never known what I can do