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Holmes Brothers 

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You don't have to hail from Shanghai to dig egg rolls, and you sure don't need Mexican roots to pine for an ice-cold Corona. So it goes for a great gospel sound. It may have been some time since you last caught a Sunday sermon, but that won't stop the Holmes Brothers from stirring your soul and getting your booty moving in the bargain. Blues, R&B, and country all factor into the Virginia-bred, New York City-based trio's infectious mix, as does a stripped-down rock-and-rhythm instrumental sound that cuts through the age barrier. The sweet syrup that binds it all, however, is down-home gospel.

Bassist Sherman Holmes, his guitarist-keyboardist brother, Wendell, and drummer Popsy Dixon formed the group in 1979, melding their blues-to-Baptist backgrounds to a wide array of material. Along the way, their sound has earned them studio dates with such artists as Peter Gabriel and Joan Osborne. Throughout the Holmes' nine-disc catalog, they place their distinctive stamp on a wide range of material, from Hank Williams to Bob Marley, the Beatles to Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Their last two offerings display the breadth of their influences: 2001's Speaking in Tongues emphasized the inspirational, while 2003's Simple Truths rocked in a secular vein. Whatever way they do it, the Holmes Brothers will stir your spirit.

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