Jimmy “Duck” Holmes is the embodiment of raw country blues and this album presents the full range of his singular talents. Jimmy’s tenor voice rises and falls along with the electric menace of an old Harmony Stratotone, the full smoothness of a 12 string and the jangling hypnotic rhythms of his acoustic Epiphone. A few songs also feature Jimmy’s slow and mournful harp overlaying and contrasting with the minor tuning that makes the Bentonia Blues so distinctive and unique.
The Bentonia Blues traces its roots to early blues musician, Henry Stuckey who developed a unique style of playing using an odd open D-minor and E-minor tuning that he developed after meeting some British soldiers from Trinidad or the Bahamas in France during World War I. Stuckey brought the tuning back to the small, isolated Mississippi town of Bentonia and taught it to Skip James, Jack Owens, Jacob Stuckey and Cornelius Bright. Together these musicians elevated the unique style of blues evolving in Bentonia by playing together and writing songs invoking dark and brooding imagery.
Bentonia Blues continued to develop when Mary and Carey Holmes started the Blue Front Café in 1948, the year after Jimmy “Duck” Holmes was born. Henry Stuckey lived next door. His guitar was the first guitar Jimmy ever held in his hands and Jimmy is regarded as the last bluesman Henry Stuckey ever taught.
After Jimmy took over the operation of the Blue Front Café in 1970, it became more than just a place for the local blues musicians to play on weekends. It became the center of the Bentonia Blues with Jack Owens, Bud Spires, Jacob Stuckey, Cornelius Bright, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes and Hill Country Blues musician Tommy West regularly meeting at the Blue Front Café to shoot pool, have a few drinks and listen to each other play. Jack would teach Jimmy how to play the Bentonia Blues by telling him, “Watch my hands, boy. Watch my hands.”
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes has since emerged as one of the most original and uncompromising country blues musicians playing today as he preserves the Bentonia Blues tradition taught to him by the originals, Henry Stuckey and Jack Owens. Fans of Jimmy “Duck” Holmes and the Bentonia Blues can hear it first-hand almost every day at the Blue Front Café. Stop in and grab a cold drink on a hot summer day or sit by the barrel stove on a cold winter day and, if you’re lucky, Jimmy may play you a song or two. If you’re really lucky, he may show you how. Until then, fans can put on this record, close their eyes and listen to Jimmy’s toe tapping the dusty concrete floor, the light clacking of a ceiling fan, the roar of a train and the most original and important country blues being played today.
Jimmy will celebrate the release of It Is What It Is on June 17, 2016 with a party at the Blue Front Café, and nationwide on various platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, CD Baby, select record stores, at the Blue Front Café and on www.bluefrontrecords.com. Special pre-sale merchandise and signed copies of the album are available at www.pledgemusic.com/projects/jimmyduckholmes.
Current Tour Dates:
June 10 - National Ave. Block Party – Lexington, KY
June 13 – 18 Bentonia Blue Festival – Bentonia, MS
June 23 Iron Horse – Jackson, MS
June 24 Private Event – Greenwood, MS
June 25 Ponderosa Stomp Event - New Orleans, LA
June 28 4th of July Reception – U.S. Embassy – Santa Cruz, Bolivia
June 30 4th of July Reception - U.S. Embassy – La Paz, Bolivia
July 1 Master Class – Festiblues Bolivia – La Paz, Bolivia
July 2 Festiblues Bolivia – La Paz, Bolivia
July 8 Briggs Farm Blues Festival – Nescopeck, PA
July 9 Briggs Farm Blues Festival – Nescopeck, PA
July 28 Iron Horse Bar & Grill – Jackson, MS
July 31 – August 7 Centrum Blues School – Port Townsend, WA
August 8 Woodsong’s Old Time Radio Hour – Lexington, KY
August 13 Sunflower Blues Festival – Clarksdale, MS
October 1 Mighty Mississippi Music Festival – Greenville, MS
October 15 Crescent City Blues & BarBQ – New Orleans, LA