Jimmy “Duck” Holmes is the embodiment of raw country blues and is regarded as the last of the Bentonia, Mississippi bluesmen. Jimmy is the last person taught the blues by Henry Stuckey, the man who taught Skip James and Jack Owens; his music evokes the dry, ghostly sounds of his mentors. His first CD, Back to Bentonia won the Living Blues award for Best Debut and Best Acoustic Blues Album while Done Got Tired of Tryin’ was featured in NPR’s top 10 blues albums of 2007. Jimmy’s music has been described as “imbued with earthy beauty” by Blues in Britain Magazine and “ethereal, stark and emotional” by music historian Robert Gordon.
After recording for numerous labels including Fat Possum and Broke and Hungry, Holmes launched Blue Front Records, which is dedicated to recording, preserving and promoting country blues. The inaugeral release will be Holmes’ latest, It Is What It Is, available June 17th. He’ll play a slew of festivals and performances domestically and internationally in support of the album with early dates announced at Jazz Fest in New Orleans and Beale Street Music Fest in Memphis as well as a week in Bolivia. Jimmy is one of the primary subjects of an incredible new documentary by Daniel Cross, called I am the Blues, which takes viewers from juke joints to church halls in the Mississippi Delta and the swamps of Louisiana for conversations and performances from artists like Bobby Rush, Barbara Lynn and Lazy Lester.
While he frequently plays at blues festivals across the United States and Europe, Jimmy can often be found in his hometown at the Blue Front Café, the oldest surviving juke joint in Mississippi, famous for its buffalo fish, moonshine and the haunting Bentonia blues. His parents Mary and Carey Holmes started the place in 1948, the year after Jimmy was born. Jimmy grew up listening to their neighbor Henry Stuckey play and soaked up his knowledge like a sponge. Jimmy took over the Blue Front in 1970, he met regularly with Jack Owens, Bud Spires and hill country blues musician Tommy West to shoot pool, drink and listen to each other play.
The Bentonia blues traces its roots to 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 during World War I. Stuckey brought the tuning back to the isolated Mississippi town of Bentonia and taught it to Skip James and Jack Owens, among others. Together, these musicians elevated their distinct style of blues by playing together and writing songs invoking dark and brooding imagery. The legendary recordings Skip James made for Paramount Records in 1931 and Jack Owens made in the 60s and 70s have influenced generations of blues musicians. The legendary Robert Johnson used the Skip James’ classic “Devil Got My Woman” as his inspiration for his classic “Hell Hounds on My Trail.”
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes on Tour:
April 16 Juke Joint Festival Clarksdale, MS
April 24 New Orleans Jazz Festival New Orleans, LA
April 24 Chickie Wah Wah New Orleans, LA
April 28 Smoot’s Natchez, MS (Album Preview party)
April 29 Beale Street Music Festival Memphis, TN
June 10 TBA Lexington, KY
June 17 Blue Front Café Bentonia, MS – (Release Party)
June 18 44th Annual Bentonia Blues Festival Bentonia, MS
June 25 – July 3 Tour Bolivia
July 8 – 9 Briggs Farm Blues Festival Nescopeck, PA
July 22, 23 John Brown’s Smokehouse Long Island City, NY
July 31 – Aug 7 Port Townsend Blues School & Festival Port Townsend, WA
August 12-14 Sunflower Blues Festival Clarksdale, MS
October 8 Woodville Music Festival Woodville, MS
October 15 Crescent City Blues & BarBQ New Orleans, LA