The Sherman Holmes Project with Brooks Long and Phil Wiggins
Honoring The Holmes Brothers Legacy, Co-sponsored by the American Folklife Center
APRIL 15, 2015 at Noon, No Tickets Required
For more information about Homegrown Concerts and other AFC events, call the Folklife Research Center at (202) 707-5510, or email [email protected].
Wendell and Sherman Holmes were born and raised in Christchurch, Virginia, about fifty miles east of Richmond, where the Rappahannock empties into the Chesapeake Bay. They grew up playing the same mixture of music they draw from today: gospel, soul, R&B, country, and blues. In the 1960s, Sherman moved to New York City, where Wendell joined him to play with a variety of bands. In the 1970s, Wendell met and performed with drummer Willie "Popsy" Dixon, who was also a native Virginian. The brothers and Popsy formed the Holmes Brothers band. The group performed to national, and later international, audiences and recorded with stars such as Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel, Odetta, Phoebe Snow, Willie Nelson, Freddie Roulette, and Rosanne Cash. Their latest album, Brotherhood, was released in 2014. In 2014 the group received the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Through their long performing career with Popsy, the brothers came to call him a “brother in spirit.”
In late 2013, Wendell began working with a young Baltimore rock’n’soul musician named Brooks Long, and for the past year, Wendell has been formally mentoring Brooks with the assistance of a Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Award. The Award is a program of the Maryland State Arts Council’s folklife program, and is designed to honor master traditional artists, while enabling them to pass their skills on to the next generation. The result has been transformative, enabling Brooks to move beyond recordings and into a creative, collaborative space with one of R&B’s wisest and talented singers, songwriters, and instrumentalists. Maryland Traditions celebrated the Holmes Brothers’ National Heritage Fellowship with a concert in December 2014, and Wendell invited Brooks Long to join them for the performance. This show proved to be both Wendell Holmes and Popsy Dixon’s final stage performance; Wendell is no longer performing for health reasons and Popsy Dixon passed away on January 9, 2015. Wendell and Brooks’s apprenticeship was documented in a feature broadcast of WYPR’s “The Signal” in January 2015.
In this concert Sherman Holmes and Brooks Long are joined by the great blues harmonica player Phil Wiggins. Wiggins, a native of Washington, DC, spent most of his career playing as a duo with the late John Cephas. Besides being a renowned harmonica player, he is also a gifted songwriter and singer whose material helped to define the duo’s sound. As a harmonica-guitar duo, Cephas & Wiggins were uniquely able to exemplify the synthesis of African and European elements which co-exist in the blues. Since the death of John Cephas, Phil Wiggins has continued to play, partnering with Corey Harris, Rick Franklin, Jerron Paxton, and other prominent musicians.
Photo: Clockwise from the left, Sherman Holmes, Phil Wiggins, and Brooks Long. Photo of Sherman Holmes by Edwin Remsberg.
A free noon concert series presented by the American Folklife Center and the Music Division of the Library of Congress. All concerts are held in the Coolidge Auditorium (located on the Ground Floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress) or the Whittall Pavilion (next to the Coolidge, on the Ground Floor, Jefferson Building). Presented in Partnership with the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. NO TICKETS REQUIRED.