Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Conversation with Jimmy "Duck" Holmes

There are some days we just look back and say, "Dang! That was a great day!"

Yesterday was that kind of day for me.

Here's how it went. I have one New Year's Resolution - get organized (which will, of course solve all my problems.) I have dedicated my morning hours to promoting Flamingo Funeral & Tales from the Land of Tea Cakes and Whiskey. I was researching the Mississippi Blues Trail as it is a great dream of mine to possibly set up a small book tour along the trail as blues music is an integral part of many of my stories

Jimmy "Duck" Holmes is considered by some to be the last of the great blues musicians to play in the Bentonia style of blues. I listened to his music to set the stage of the bar scene in which Mr. Holmes is a character in my novella, Flamingo Funeral.  I thought if I could find an address for his fan club, perhaps I would send a copy of the work with the hope he would learn he had a fan who had included him in a book.

The website for the Blue Front Cafe is modest, as is the Blue Front Cafe. It's history, however, is fascinating and detailed on the Mississippi Blues Trail website.

I dialed the number and told the man on the other end I was an Alabama writer trying to find some information on Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, to which he replied, "Yeah, this is Jimmy "Duck"!
Ok. There are (everyone can tell you this) very few times in life when I am rendered silent. But for a moment, just a moment, there was dead air on the line.

What followed was a twenty minute conversation - I'm going to say not one-sided - about his music, old blues music, growing up in the South, when he last played in Alabama, the Bentonia Blues Festival, I think the fact that Gregg Allman covered Skip James on his last CD, how cold the weather is and yes, about the fact that I have a new book out and you Mr. Holmes are a character in it.

He asked me about the book and I told him a little about the bar scene in which he is playing. He seemed to get a kick out of my having him play the Skip James' song, Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues, in the story.

As I write this, there is a copy of Flamingo Funeral off to Mississippi and I am planning a trip to the Bentonia Blues Festival the third week in June to meet Jimmy "Duck" Holmes.
And if I'm lucky, maybe he will sing a little Hard Time Killin' Floor & Devil Got My Woman. And if I'm real lucky, just maybe he'll take a pic with me and the book.

Now, that is what I call a damn good day!

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