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Jimmy “Duck” Holmes | Cypress Grove

Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach puts the Mississippi bluesman in the spotlight.


WHO IS HE? A 72-year-old blues singer-guitarist who also owns Mississippi’s Blue Front Cafe, which is reportedly America’s longest-operating juke joint — so presumably Jimmy “Duck” Holmes had no trouble getting enough gigs to hone his craft in front of an audience.

WHAT IS THIS? His seventh studio disc since he started recording at the tender age of 59 — and the latest in a series of regional blues artists respectfully spotlit and tastefully underproduced by Black Keys singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach.

WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Haunting and hypnotic. Granted, that’s pretty much par for the Delta blues course. But Holmes takes it up a notch with his unique playing style — he’s the last-known member of the Bentonia School, which was popularized by Skip James and uses tunings and chordings that make the music more ethereal and even eerie.


HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? On repeat — while imbibing at whatever passes for your nearest juke joint.

WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Spellbinding, rustic, earthy, genuine, soothing, smouldering, laid-back, plaintive, historical, seductive.

WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? The mournfully droning title cut, the electric guitar-stung Catfish Blues; the swirling Goin’ Away Baby; the slow-cooking Little Red Rooster; the groovy All Night Long.

WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS SAY? ‘Is there any male in Mississippi over the age of 70 who is not a semi-legendary blues guitarist?’

HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? This is the kind of album that sneaks up on you like a mickey — and knocks you out before you know it.

IF THIS ALBUM WERE A PLANT, WHAT PLANT WOULD IT BE? Kudzu, Spanish moss or some other inconspicuous crop that slowly but surely grows on you.

SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? This live-sounding set is well worth the cover charge — but if you’re not a blues fan, you might want to stick to the stream.