Jimmy “Duck” Holmes in front of The Blue Front Cafe
Photographer, blogger and traveler, Bart Drolenga and his wife Saskia are from Amsterdam, but travel the world looking for inspiration. Bart has agreed to take us along on their journey through the Delta via writings and photos. This week is our 6th stop…
“We decide to get off Highway 61 and travel the 40 or so miles East of the highway to Bentonia. Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, who is one of the best country blues artists of today, welcomes us. Jimmy also owns The Blue Front Café, a blues bar that was opened in 1948 by his parents Carey and Mary Holmes.
Legendary musicians such as Sonnyboy Williamson, James “Son” Thomas, Skip James and Jack Owens used to perform in The Blue Front Café. Jack Owens personally teached Jimmy “Duck” Holmes play in the Bentonia style of blues that was invented by himself and Skip James.
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes is a very friendly man and he shows us around The Blue Front Café, whose front is painted in a spectacular blue color. Inside the cafe is kind of bare except for a bar, a few tables and chairs and a jukebox. Pictures of blues artists and some LP covers hang on the wall. Jimmy picks up his beaten up electric guitar and plugs it in his even more beaten up amplifier. A few moments later we hear a haunting version of “It must have been the Devil”. In the song composer Jimmy Owens blames all his misfortune on the Devil:
Oh, it must have been the Devil Change that woman’s mind I am so good looking But I sure dress so foul Ain’t got no clothes, baby And I sure can’t go nowhere Oh, it must have been the Devil Change that woman’s mind”
The Mississippi Blues Foundation has set up a Blues Trail consisting of Blues markers that tell the story of men, women and places that were essential in the development of the blues. There are currently around 170 of these markers throughout Mississippi.