The Holmes Brothers

Simple Truths (Alligator)

SXSW Records

The Holmes Brothers

Simple Truths (Alligator) Only a family could offer up Simple Truths' tight knit, home-cooked servings of African-American roots music. Popsy Dixon (drums) and brothers Wendell (guitar, keyboards) and Sherman Holmes (bass) were all born in Virginia, honing their chops in church and at clubs. The trio eventually held court at Dan Lynch's club in New York, treating audiences with their three part vocal harmonies. Together for decades, it's only in the last dozen years that the Brothers have become recording artists. Depending on your point of view, the song selection here is either record label cunning or band brilliancy. Either way, gifted musicians like strummer Greg Leisz are on board, making for a meaningful ride. The 13 cuts are straightforward vignettes of life and demonstrate the Brothers' stylistic nexus of blues, R&B, gospel, soul, and even splashes of country and Western. Like their brethren the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Holmes Brothers may not possess the snap-crackle-pop of back in the day, but they have ample amounts of bubbling, heaven-sent groove, as on Collective Soul's "Shine." Wendell tenders a sparse, powerful rendition of Willie Nelson's "Opportunity to Cry," while an acoustic Leisz and Popsy imbue Bob Marley's "Concrete Jungle" with new meaning. The summertime zephyr of original "Hey Baby" is balanced by Gillian Welch's plaintive and evocative "Everything Is Free." In presenting inimitable covers and originals, the Holmes Brothers do what few artists can: flatter the composer as well as themselves. (Thursday, March 18, 8pm @ Austin Music Hall)

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