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Mississippi bluesman, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, plays a distinct straight from the Delta Bentonia Blues that has gained him recognition across the world. This is a rare opportunity to hear Holmes’s music in an intimate salon setting. Choreographer Ralph Lemon, a long-time friend, speaks with Holmes about his life, art and ownership of the oldest known juke joint in Mississippi, The Blue Front.
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes has lived a life steeped in blues. Today he is the last living practitioner of the celebrated style of Bentonia blues made famous by Skip James and Jack Owens.
In addition, Holmes operates what is arguably the oldest juke joint in Mississippi, The Blue Front. Born to sharecroppers Carey and Mary Holmes in the summer of 1947, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes has lived his entire life in and around the small Mississippi town of Bentonia, home to one of the most unusual and beloved strains of Delta blues. Various blues researchers, including Alan Lomax, recorded Holmes beginning in the ‘70s. Holmes has released three CDs on the St. Louis-based record label Broke & Hungry, his debut CD Back to Bentonia (2006), as well as Done Got Tired of Tryin’ (2007), and Ain’t It Lonesome (2009).
Ralph Lemon is Artistic Director of Cross Performance, a company dedicated to the creation of cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary performance and presentation. In 2005, Lemon concluded The Geography Trilogy, a decade-long international research and performance project that spanned three continents as it explored race, history and memory. The project featured three evening-length dance/theater performances: Geography (1997); Tree (2000); and Come home Charley Patton (2004); two Internet art projects; the publication of two books by Wesleyan University Press; and several gallery exhibitions. Other recent projects include the three-DVD set of The Geography Trilogy; Konbit, a video collage about Miami’s Haitian community; Three, a dance/film created with choreographer Bebe Miller and filmmaker Isaac Julien; and Persephone, a book with Philip Trager’s photographs of Lemon’s choreographic work, with text by Lemon and Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, and poems by Rita Dove and Eavan Boland.
Lemon is the recipient of a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and a 2009 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Work. In 2006, he was one of 50 artists to receive the inaugural United States Artists Fellowship. He has also received a 2005 “Bessie” (NY Dance and Performance) Award in recognition of The Geography Trilogy.
Jessica Lynne and DéLana R.A. Dameron reflect on ways they make a home, creatively, wherever they are.