Mississippi Country Bluesman Jimmy “Duck” Holmes announces the release of his new album, It Is What It Is on Blue Front Records for June 17th, 2016.
The 69 year old Holmes is the embodiment of raw country blues and is regarded as the last of the Bentonia, Mississippi bluesmen. He is the last person taught the blues by Henry Stuckey, the man who taught Skip James and Jack Owens in the Bentonia style and his music evokes the dry, ghostly sounds of his mentors. Although he was first recorded by Alan Lomax in the 1970s, his first CD, Back to Bentonia, on the Broke and Hungry label, won the Living Blues award for Best Debut and Best Acoustic Blues Album in 2006. His Done Got Tired of Tryin’ was featured in NPR’s top 10 blues albums of 2007.
This will be Holmes 6th studio release and the first on his own label, Blue Front Records. The label is named for the famous Blue Front Cafe, the longest-running, legal juke joint in Mississippi, which was opened by Holmes’ parents in 1948 and is owned by him now.
Holmes has spent his life learning and playing the haunting Bentonia blues style that originated with 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. Later on, Jack Owens would stop by the Blue Front almost daily with his guitar, teaching Holmes the finer points of the style. The genre invokes dark and brooding imagery and has influenced generations of blues musicians including Robert Johnson, whose song, “Hell Hounds on My Trail” was inspired by the Skip James classic, “Devil Got My Woman”.
Still spry and ready to spread his style of blues, Holmes has a slew of festivals and performances lined up in support of the new album. These include Clarksdale, Mississippi’s Juke Joint Festival on the 16th of this month, the New Orleans Jazz Festival, the Beale Street Music Festival, a week-long tour in Bolivia and, of course, the CD release party on June 17th at where else but the Blue Front Cafe.