The year 2015 marked the end of an amazing journey for the Holmes Brothers, a group with humble beginnings on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula who performed a joyous and moving blend of blues, gospel, soul, rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and country for more than 50 years. Sherman and Wendell Holmes were raised by schoolteacher parents who fostered the boys’ early interest in music by playing recordings of traditional Baptist hymns, anthems, and spirituals, as well as blues music by Jimmy Reed, Junior Parker, and B. B. King. Sherman studied composition and music theory at Virginia State University before heading to New York City, where Wendell joined him. In 1979, the duo formed the Holmes Brothers band with Sherman on bass, Wendell on guitar, and Popsy Dixon on drums.
With their soulful singing, uplifting harmonies, and unsurpassed musicianship, the Holmes Brothers blended Saturday night roadhouse rock with the gospel fervor and harmonies of a Sunday morning church service. During their remarkable career, the band played and recorded with the brightest stars of the blues and rock ‘n’ roll scene including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, and Van Morrison, and in 2014 received the National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor the United States bestows on traditional artists. Sadly, 2015 saw the passing of both Wendell and Popsy, ending the Holmes Brothers’ remarkable run.
Despite these devastating losses, Sherman has remained dedicated to carrying on his musical career, collaborating with a range of blues, bluegrass, and gospel artists, and forming the Sherman Holmes Project. In July, Sherman released The Richmond Sessions, his first solo recording in his more than 50-year career. The album carries on the spirit of the revered Holmes Brothers by reimagining songs and making them their own. The Sherman Holmes Project band is largely a Virginia-style family affair, showcasing some of the finest musicians from a wide range of styles across the state. The Richmond Folk Festival set will feature Richmond gospel sensations the Legendary Ingramettes, and a stellar supporting cast of musicians including Sammy Shelor on banjo, Brandon Davis on guitar, David Van Deventer on fiddle, Jamie Collins on bass, and Richmond’s own multi-instrumentalist Jared Pool on mandolin, guitar, and telecaster.