Holmes Brothers to play free show in MonroeWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether they’re rocking, serving up smoldering soul, bringing the blues, playing old-timey gospel, foot-stomping through a country song, or giving up the funk, the Holmes Brothers keep it real.
“It’s not about glittering suits and rhinestones and that stuff,” Wendell Holmes said and laughed. “It’s about the value of our music. We hope people take away from [our concert] the Holmes Brothers are serious and can play music.”
That doesn’t mean the trio doesn’t have fun. They’ve recorded covers by everyone from Hank Williams, The Beatles and Creedence Clearwater Revival to Elvis Costello, Cheap Trick, Lyle Lovett and Collective Soul.
“We come from Virginia out of the late ’40s and early ’50s, so the black stations had very few kilowatts. You could be listening very plainly to Jimmy Reed and ‘Honest I Do’ and all of a sudden here’s Hank Williams coming through loud and clear, ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart,’” the singer-songwriter-pianist-guitarist said during a call from his home in Rosedale, Md.
“So I got to appreciate and recognize the good country music, the bluegrass music that is all Americana. And my cousin had a juke joint, and we played there, and we played at churches on Sunday, so we were well-rounded in the kinds of music that we got to play.
“It has served us well because we’d play for somebody and they’d say, ‘Oh, they play all kinds of music.’ We play because we love it; it’s a part of us.”
Fans love the harmonies of Holmes, bass player Sherman Holmes and drummer Popsy Dixon.
“Here’s the funny part: We don’t practice,” Wendell said. “We don’t work on harmony parts; we just start singing together and by now everybody knows what his part is, so it’s an easy thing for us to do. As a matter of fact, we’re so amazed how much acclaim people give us for singing, but we greatly appreciate it.”
The three have been making music together for more than 30 years. The winners of multiple Blues Music Awards have played with a slew of superstars, including Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Al Green, Keith Richards, Rosanne Cash and Joan Osborne.
Produced by Osborne, the 2010 disc, “Feed My Soul,” followed Wendell’s recent bout with bladder cancer.
“The writing of the music for that album was something that did reflect my experience with cancer,” he said. “I took some time off from playing, so I just wrote songs that reflected my mood.”
One is “Fair Weathered Friend.”
“It’s about one of my dear friends, for whatever reason, chose not to visit me when I was going through all this chemo and radiation,” Wendell recalled. “For a while, I was a little bit hurt by that. But now as time passes on, I realize that when your best friend is going through something that’s life-threatening, sometimes you just don’t know what to say. So I’ve forgiven him.
“Another one of the songs, ‘Living Well Is the Best Revenge,’ is an answer to my overcoming cancer,” Wendell said as he laughed.
The Holmes Brothers will headline Monroe County’s Black History Month Blues Series at 7 p.m. Feb. 26 at Monroe County Community College’s La-Z-Boy Center, Meyer Theater. Opening will be The Ebony Hillbillies and Rev. Robert B. Jones. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the free show.