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The Holmes Brothers
SIMPLE TRUTHS
(Alligator)
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Sherman and Wendell Holmes have been performing since the early í60s, when they apprenticed as sidemen for a long list of R&B artists that includes the Impressions, John Lee Hooker, Jerry Butler, and Inez and Charlie Fox. After they joined with Popsy Dixon to form the Holmes Brothers in 1979, the groupís path began to weave between the spirituals the Holmeses were raised on and the blues, creating an approach thatís æsthetic kin to that of the Staples Singers.

Whatís surprising after all these years is how guitarist Wendell, bassist Sherman, and drummer Popsy have maintained their thirst for fresh inspiration, which they find here in songs by Bob Marley, Hank Williams, and Texas tunesmith Townes Van Zandt. Without altering an iota of their church-tempered character, they make Williamsís "Iím So Lonesome I Could Cry" crunch with garage-band raunch and turn Marleyís "Concrete Jungle" into a folk-blues spiritual. But itís their own tunes, like the Chuck BerryĖstyle stomper "Run Myself Out of Town" and the gentle ballad "We Meet, We Part, We Remember," that capture the soul of their art: gentle, soaring three-part harmonies; economical grooves; and virtuosic guitar melodies that work in a roadhouse or in Godís house.

(The Holmes Brothers play Scullers Jazz Club, 400 Soldiers Field Road at the Mass Pike, on March 25; call 617-562-4111. They play the Narrows Center for the Arts, 16 Anawan Street in Fall River, on March 26; call 508-324-1926. And they play Union Blues, 2 Washington Square in Worcester, on March 27; call 508-767-2587.)

BY TED DROZDOWSKI


Issue Date: March 12 - 18, 2004
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