The above video sounds terribly grainy at times, gets cut off, and is too dark to see the drummer who's singing, but it does give a crude look at one of the greatest bands in America. The Holmes Brothers played at the Tin Angel on Friday night, and in their typical fashion put on a tremendous show. When they play Amazing Grace it's more moving than a decade of church services. If you aren't familiar with the Holmes Brothers, here's what they're all about:
Rooted in blues and gospel, The Holmes Brothers’ sound is all their own. The rhythmic foundation laid down by Sherman’s bass playing and Popsy’s drumming perfectly compliment Wendell’s hard-driving guitar solos. But even more gripping than their instrumental prowess is their amazing three-part harmony singing, mixing Wendell’s gruff and gravelly vocals with Popsy’s soaring falsetto and Sherman’s rich baritone creating a multi-layered and ornately textured sound, bringing the soul of gospel music into everything they perform.
I've had the privilege to be a fan of these artists for the past 15 years after my father took me one of their shows. They are authentic, American roots musicians, and with all the hip-hop, corporate trash out there, they represent something truly genuine and precious in the music world. They've been touring small venues and cranking out their signature sound for many years, and only recently found the wider recognition and small fame they deserve.
I can recall hearing them play at the Tin Angel 7 years ago, shortly after they did an interview with NPR which really introduced them to a whole new audience. Looks like they even have a MySpace page now, probably set up by the technophiles at their new label. You can listen to a few songs there, just click on a title or two on the right hand side.
I purchased one of their new Cd's, and they each obliged me with an autograph. Talking with them after the show, with my father in tow, I marveled at how the Holmes Brothers keep on going, and how wonderful it is to have a connection to a band over the years. The music becomes an immortal moment, recreated in dark taverns and brightly-lit stages, despite the inexorable march of time that ages us all. Their last song ended with the refrain, "God bless you, until we meet again."
Long live the Holmes Brothers.