Music » Livewire

The Holmes Brothers

Friday, February 23, at Wilbert's.

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The power of gospel music comes from the depths of the soul -- far beneath lyrics and sound -- and can even move those who never make the morning service. But that same righteous fire can also power secular music: blues, R&B, rock and roll, country, etc.

Based in New York, the Holmes Brothers -- bassist Sherman Holmes, guitarist and keyboardist Wendell Holmes, and drummer Popsy Dixon -- crisscross all the aforementioned strains of American folk music with a gospel-grounded heat. The trio's stripped-bare approach makes for a sound that's both decidedly retro and indie raw. Over the years they've done studio time with such big shots as Van Morrison and Peter Gabriel, and are never at a loss for notable guests on their own sessions.

On the recently released disc State of Grace, the Brothers revel in their roots in the Virginia Piedmont, a region where traditional blues and country have always mixed and merged without prejudice. And there's a telltale streak of those very roots in the down-home face put on reworked tunes by Hank Williams, Nick Lowe, and John Fogerty.

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