Photography and story by Steven Philips. StSteven.com #StSteven
I am a lover of blues, especially if there are soul, gospel, and/or funk influences. The thing about old bluesmen is that they have generally spent so many thousands of hours playing their music, whether sitting on the front porch, performing in juke joints, bars, and clubs, or doing bigger shows, that the music has become part of their nature. They don’t have to think about it. They have guitar riffs, drum patterns and bass lines that have almost become part of their DNA.
The Holmes Brothers at perfomring at the Ardmore Music Hall exemplify this aspect of blues that I love. Furthermore, each of the three possesses a really great voice (the type developed during years in the church choir), and a great love for the music, always a great combination. Wendell plays guitar and piano, writes many of the songs, and sings, as the frontman for this trio. Sherman played a beautiful red Gibson Les Paul electric bass, sang a few songs and sang backup on many others, and also does songwriting. Popsy Dixon (not a blood brother but clearly part of the family) is on the drum kit, and sings, particularly some of the higher pitched melodies. One gospel number had him out of his throne and up front at the microphone for a feature song.
This weekend at The Ardmore Music Hall, The Holmes Brothers played an early set to a very enthusiastic and appreciative albeit seated audience. They drank their drinks, many eating dinner as well, and listened intently. If Wendell asked once, he asked twenty times if everyone was having a good time. There was no question about the answer. Everyone was totally into it. They played a lot of the songs from their new album Brotherhood, which they were signing at the merch table right after the show. They also played earlier songs, including some from their 2010 album Feed My Soul, and some covers, including a fabulous version of It Hurts Me Too, the old blues standard that has been covered by so many greats. They put their own brand on it with unique vocals and awesome guitar riffs. In summary, it was a treat to see three gentleman in their ’70’s playing such real music.