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Simple Truths

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Bassist Sherman and guitarist Wendell Holmes first apprenticed with the Impressions and John Lee Hooker. Since forming the Holmes Brothers with drummer Popsy Dixon in 1979, the Harlem-based trio has ricocheted between blues and gospel, creating an aesthetic that's kin to the Staple Singers'. What's surprising after all these years is how they've maintained a thirst for fresh inspiration, which they find here in songs by Bob Marley Hank Williams, and Texas tunesmith Townes Van Zandt. They make Williams's "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" crunch like a garage band, and turn Marley's "Concrete Jungle" into a folk-blues spiritual. But it's their own tunes, like the Chuck Berry-style stomper "Run Myself Out of Town" and the gentle ballad "We Meet, We Part, We Remember," that really capture the soul of their art. The Holmes Brothers are all about gentle, soaring three-part harmonies; economical grooves; and virtuosic melodies that work in a roadhouse or God's house.


Formed: 1980 in New York, NY

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Holmes Brothers' unique synthesis of gospel-inflected R&B harmonies, accompanied by good drumming and rhythm-based guitar playing, gives them a down-home rural feeling that no other touring roots music group can duplicate. Brothers Sherman and Wendell Holmes, along with drummer Popsy Dixon (the falsetto voice), are the group's core members, although they occasionally tour with extra musicians. All three harmonize well together. The Holmes Brothers are so versatile, they're booked solid every...
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