“Holy Water and Whiskey” Recent Reviews

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From Tom McHugh, aka "Norm" at O'Niell's!

Holy Water & Whiskey is the greatest band in the State of NM.  The music is Outstanding and the performers are Wonderful!  The Humor, Wisecracks and Smirks are 100% Celtic. Thanks for making the world, especially O'Neill's Pub, a better place for everybody to enjoy life to its fullest. I look forward to seeing and hearing you soon.  Take Care!  Tom McHugh.

From April, our favorite bartender at O'Niell's!


We have seen these words broadcasting a fun, bluegrass style band to play at everyone's favorite Albuquerque pub for many years now. Holy Water and Whiskey has been a trademark band at O'Niell's since back in the days of the mid Nob Hill location. Their soothing harmonies and fun loving banter always draw a crowd of music lovers and families of young and old alike. The talented band covers old gospel tunes, classic drinkin' songs, and even write some great ditties of their own. A truly enjoyable time will be had when you come hear the delightful sounds of Holy Water and Whiskey at everyone's favorite pub! 


October 2009 New Mexico Magazine Review

Story by Emily Drabanski

Spirits of All Kinds is a clever title for this CD, which has high spirited songs that run the gamut from a traditional ditty called “Whiskey Before Breakfast” to a selection of gospel tunes. All of the tracks have an old-timey feel that makes you long for simpler days. The Albuquerque-based trio offers pristine acoustic arrangements, but it’s the gorgeous vocal harmonies that will grab your ears. Imagine Peter, Paul and Mary if they’d decided to play bluegrass, and you’ll get an idea of what Holy Water & Whiskey sounds like.

The band is a family affair. Maggie Washburne (bass) and her husband, Bruce (guitar and banjo), played together in a band in the 1970s, took a 20-year hiatus to raise a family, and now are back sharing their first love—music. Scott Altenbach plays guitar, and his wife, Maria Globus, helps with the sound. Besides music, all of these folks have another love in common: farming. The Washburnes own and operate a farm in Cuba, New Mexico, and Scott runs his own farm in Albuquerque’s South Valley.

Spirits of All Kinds features several tunes by Maggie, as well as the band’s interpretations of traditional and other songs. Maggie takes the lead on her own gospel song, “Grandma’s Angel,” in an angelic style reminiscent of Iris DeMent’s. The trio concludes that track with a stirring a cappella chorus.

Of their adaptations, some of the standouts are of the Sons of the Pioneers favorite “Cool Water,” and country singer Guy Clark’s ballad “The Cape.” Westerners will enjoy the a cappella rendition of “Goodnight Loving Trail.”


More Reviews!

We recently had the pleasure of sponsoring a concert by Holy Water and Whiskey as part of the Rio Rancho United Methodist Church Performing Arts Series.  To describe the concert as a treat would be a vast understatement.  Three well trained, highly complimentary voices combined with outstanding instrumental talent will delight any audience.  Reminiscent of American folk combined with a dose of Appalachian country, gospel, old English street songs and just a hint of old Bostonian sailing music, this band's style will have you tapping your feet no later than 10 seconds into their opening number.  They play acoustical guitar, bass and banjo with a variety of traditional techniques.  They balance their voices and their instruments naturally - you can just sit back and soak it all in.
They showed early, the sound check was sheer pleasure and they were professional in every manner.  They engaged (or better said, embraced) the audience and drew them into the concert. I have worked with some seriously talented people over the years and I cannot speak highly enough of this group.  A real joy to work with.  Five stars out of four!

Gordon Moore

Rio Rancho Performing Arts Series; May 2009


“Holy Water and Whiskey”, what more can you say!  Appearing at Deming Performing Arts Theater here in Deming was a pure treat for those in attendance.  The harmony, both a cappella and with instruments is crisp and clear, a delight to the listeners ear!  Maggie’s powerful voice, Bruce’s stories and Scott and his tales seem to become one when the music begins.  I guess the operative word for “Holy Water and Whiskey” would be “WOW!”

They have two CD’s out and both are excellent, a great buy for sure.  They are welcome back anytime.  We must not forget Maria, keeper of the sound system!

Glenn Kruger, President
Deming Performing Arts Theater
Deming NM


"Holy Water and Whiskey won over our audience with their immediately appealing performance. This is a highly professional group whose presentation is seamless; their music, jokes and stories were very well received. They kept our audience fully engaged throughout a thoroughly entertaining show. Opportunities to hear skilled vocal ensembles such as Holy Water and Whiskey are extremely rare these days. This group is a delight to work with. We'll certainly have them 

Paul Roberts
President of Elation Center for the Arts in Pagosa Springs Colorado


When Holy Water and Whiskey played at The Corrales Growers' Market, both the growers and the customers really got an unexpected treat. Far from background music, the sounds of this versatile group caused people to stand, listen and applaud. Familiar tunes like "Cool Water" and "The Wayward Wind" beautifully harmonized, set a comfortable tone for the market's laid- back Sunday morning scene. Original songs like "Laugh When The Sun Don't Shine" seemed  familiar, homey and almost immediately "hummable". It's the kind of music that is uplifting, humorous, and so perfectly woven with guitar, bass and banjo that you wish it would go on forever. The vocals are exceptionally fine, with Maggie Washburne's voice soaring clear as a bell one minute, and then just as naturally joined by Bruce Washburne and Scott Altenbach's harmonies ; it's like hearing what you see when  birds change formation in mid flight; seamless. These folks are the "real deal" for whom music is as natural as breathing. It was a great pleasure to have them play, and we feel really lucky to look forward to their return this season.

Anita Walsh
Corrales Grower’s Market Coordinator
May 2008


    We just love the great songs, harmonies, acapella singing, and fine guitar and banjo playing of Holy Water and Whiskey.  We first heard them at the 2007 Albuquerque Folk Festival and knew it was a group we wanted to hear again.  Since then, we have heard them give excellent performances in bars, at wine festivals and at folk festivals, but our very favorite is the house concert they performed for 30 of our friends in our living room earlier this year.  The Holy Water and Whiskey house concert was a memorable event enjoyed by all our friends, most of whom have never seen Holy Water and Whiskey before.  But they enjoyed the trio so much that they have gone on to see them in other venues. 
     Bruce, Maggie, Scott and Marie are friendly people. Between sets they fit right in with our guests and very much added to the discussion and camaraderie.  What a special event the house concert was for all of us. 

Jim Negro – Albuquerque; April, 2008


Of all the groups that play at Smokehouse BBQ, this is one of our favorites.  We can always depend on Maggie, Bruce and Scott for an evening of music and laughter.  They are the consummate crowd pleasers, creating a comfortable rapport with the audience.  It is the sort of feeling you would get if they were sitting around your living room, playing their wonderful collection of songs. The choice of music is eclectic, Folk, Gospel, Country, Bluegrass and whatever.  As Bruce says, “We play what we like” and it seems that they like everything.  No matter what they do it is done precisely with excellent harmony and instrumentation.

As a rule Bruce can be depended on for the laughter with some of his good Midwestern jokes.  Oley and Lena were never funnier. When you see them don’t forget to buy their CD, Better Late than Never.  It is beautifully produced and captures their sound perfectly. 


Rob and Jan Wilder
Smokehouse BBQ
Rio Rancho, NM
January  2007


Last Friday night Holy Water and Whiskey packed the house again.  It seems that everyone loves that group and for good reason.  They gave us another night of great songs, flawless harmonies and some of Bruce’s jokes (where does he get them?)  It was a night of music, laughter and even a few tears.

4/23/08 – Jan Wilder
The Smokehouse


The group, Holy Water & Whiskey" were a hit when they performed at the First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque.  Especially enjoyed were the ethical and religious ideas expressed in the songs "Let the Mystery Be" and "One Voice."  Everyone also enjoyed the a cappella part singing of traditional and folk songs.  The blend was excellent.  We hope that they can return.

         Alan Stringer
         First Unitarian Church
         August   2007


Review of Holy Water & Whiskey

On August 10, 2007, the United Methodist Men (“UMM”) held a western barbeque fundraising dinner, featuring entertainment by Holy Water & Whiskey.  For the first time, this fundraising dinner was completely sold out.  There is little doubt that the reason it was sold out was because the UMM held the same event last year and brought back Holy Water & Whiskey.  The Church congregation was delighted with the group in 2006 and was very anxious to hear them again.  The congregation was pleased with the variety of music the group performed, from standard gospel music (Holy Water) to folk, to just plain fun music (Whiskey).  The performers kept the congregation involved during the entire evening.  Their gorgeous vocal harmonies, great comedic sense and fabulous instrumentation were a huge success. 

Albuquerque United Methodist Church
September  2007


"Holy Water and Whiskey provided us a tangy mix of bluegrass, gospel and folk music -- they made familiar tunes uniquely their own.  Their clear, rich and intricately woven harmonies inspired us all as the voices played the music and the instruments sang.    They are welcome back any time they want to play for us!"

Once again, we thank you!

Nichole Trushell
Executive Director
Highlands Center for Natural History
1375 S. Walker Road; Prescott, AZ


Professors of biology, farmers, and musicians, these three friends play traditional folk, bluegrass, gospel and some “select” whiskey tunes.  With a focus on beautiful vocal harmonies, they create a relaxing and enjoyable listening experience for audiences of all ages and are one of our most requested performers.

Roselie Johnston
Solid Grounds Coffee House
Albuquerque, NM
April   2007