Alligator Artists the Holmes Brothers, Koko Taylor and Shemekia Copeland to Perform in Philadelphia


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Performance information is as follows:

The Holmes Brothers
Saturday, May 14th: Annenberg Center, Zellerbach Theater
3680 Walnut Street Philadelphia, PA
8:00 p.m.
Ticket Price: Please check website for details
“Shout Sister Shout: A Tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe" with Special guest Marie Knight!

Koko Taylor and Shemekia Copeland
Saturday, May 21st: Keswick Theatre
291 Keswick Avenue Glenside, PA
8:00 p.m.

“Deeply soulful, uplifting and timeless." — The New York Times

“The undisputed masters of blues-based American roots music." — Chicago Tribune

The Holmes Brothers — bassist / vocalist Sherman Holmes, his brother, guitarist / vocalist Wendell Homes, and drummer / vocalist Popsy Dixon — touring in support of their latest CD, Simple Truths, will perform live in Philadelphia. OffBeat declares the group possesses “great spirit and outstanding vocal harmonies with a jam band aesthetic that anticipated the 'sacred steel' movement by a decade." In 2004, The Holmes Brothers appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and performed with Willie Nelson on his television special, Willie Nelson & Friends: Outlaws and Angels.

Ever since they first joined forces and started performing together in 1979, The Holmes Brothers have been bringing their brand of gospel-inflected, spiritually moving and funky music to audiences around the world. Their breathtaking harmonies resonate with a passion and conviction matched only by their inspired musicianship and their ability to perform sanctified gospel, low-down roadhouse blues, deep soul, barroom country and pure pop—all in one set. They've recorded with Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel, Odetta, Phoebe Snow, Jungle Brothers and Joan Osborne, and have gigged all over the world — even performing for President Clinton.

Simple Truths was helmed by the same Grammy-winning pair — producer Craig Street (Cassandra Wilson, Chris Whitley) and engineer S. Husky Höskulds (Tom Waits, Joe Henry, Wallflowers) — who were part of the creative team for the 2003 Norah Jones smash Come Away With Me. The CD features 13 striking songs reflecting The Holmes Brothers' wide-ranging musical palette. The album features an amazing collection of songs written by some of the greatest songwriters of the last 60 years, including Townes Van Zandt ("If I Needed You"), Bob Marley ("Concrete Jungle"), Gillian Welch ("Everything Is Free"), Willie Nelson ("Opportunity To Cry") and Hank Williams ("I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry") as well as choice covers of Collective Soul's “Shine" and Bruce Channel's “Hey Baby." The Holmes Brothers' spirited original material ("Run Myself Out Of Town"; “We Meet, We Part, We Remember"; “You Won't Be Livin' Here Anymore"; and “I'm So Lonely") fits perfectly alongside the rest of the songs on this transcendent, boundary-defying release.

Sherman and Wendell Holmes were born and raised in Christchurch, Virginia. Their schoolteacher parents fostered the boys' early interest in music as they listened to traditional Baptist hymns, anthems and spirituals as well as blues music by Jimmy Reed, Junior Parker and B.B. King. They both sang in the church choir. Sherman studied clarinet and piano before taking up the bass, while Wendell learned trumpet, organ and guitar. Sherman studied composition and music theory at Virginia State University, but in 1959, he dropped out and headed to New York for a promising job with a singer named Jimmy Jones. His younger brother Wendell joined him after completing high school. The two brothers played in a few bands before forming The Sevilles in 1963. The group lasted only three years, but they often backed up touring artists like The Impressions, John Lee Hooker and Jerry Butler, gaining a wealth of experience. After The Sevilles disbanded, Sherman, Wendell and a fellow Virginian, drummer Popsy Dixon, continued to play in a variety of Top 40 bar bands until 1979, when the three joined forces and formed The Holmes Brothers band.

In the early years, the band worked primarily at Dan Lynch's, a New York club that featured weekly jam nights and performances by a wide variety of blues acts, most notably, The Holmes Brothers. More importantly, the club served as a meeting ground for many members of New York's blues community, including future members of Blues Traveler, Joan Osborne and producer Andy Breslau, who brought the group to Rounder Records.

Since their debut on Rounder in 1989, The Holmes Brothers have worked virtually non-stop. In addition to their four critically acclaimed Rounder albums, they recorded Jubilation for Peter Gabriel's Real World label in 1992, becoming the first American group to record for the standout world music imprint. In 1994 they joined Van Morrison in the studio on the song “That's Where It's At" for the Real World compilation album A Week Or Two In The Real World. 1996 found The Holmes Brothers starring in the independent motion picture, Lotto Land, for which they also recorded the soundtrack. In 1997, Joan Osborne asked The Holmes Brothers to be her backing band when she opened for Bob Dylan.

After signing with Alligator in 2001, The Holmes Brothers released the magnificent Speaking in Tongues, produced by multi-platinum superstar — and close friend to the band — Joan Osborne, who also sings backup vocals throughout. With Osborne at the helm, along with Grammy-winning engineer Trina Shoemaker (Sheryl Crow's The Globe Sessions), The Holmes Brothers created a contemporary album of spiritual soul music. Response to Speaking in Tongues was phenomenal. The Holmes Brothers appeared on The Late Show With David Letterman, The CBS Saturday Early Show, as well as National Public Radio's Weekend Edition, A Prairie Home Companion and Mountain Stage. They've been the subject of features and reviews in Rolling Stone, Billboard, Newsweek, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, AllAboutJazz.com, The San Francisco Examiner and countless other publications. They continue to tour all across the globe, and never fail to win over audiences everywhere they play.

In 2003, The Holmes Brothers recorded versions of “Trouble" (Cat Stevens) and “You're Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond" (Blind Willie Johnson) for the soundtrack album for the popular television series Crossing Jordan. Other artists on the album include Richard Thompson, Lucinda Williams, Joe Henry, and Alison Krauss. In addition, The Holmes Brothers appear on the M.C. Records tribute album to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Shout, Sister, Shout, backing Joan Osborne (who is currently singing and touring with The Dead), Odetta, Victoria Williams and Phoebe Snow.

Now, with Simple Truths, The Holmes Brothers will bring their uplifting and foot-stomping music to old and new fans as they continue touring the country and the world. With their deeply soulful singing, chilling harmonies and telepathic musicianship, The Holmes Brothers amaze audiences and leave them in a state of utter disbelief. Of their live performances, The Boston Globe declares, “Straight-out, raw and real soul shouts, Jimmy Reed-influenced country blues, and juke-joint salvation. The Holmes Brothers can get down or raise crowds to sweaty bliss with soul-power."

“The great female blues singer of her generation." - Rolling Stone

“Raucous and raunchy, boomingly defiant blues...a rafter rattling voice." - Washington Post

Grammy Award-winning blues legend Koko Taylor and her roof-raising Blues Machine will perform live in Harrisburg. Koko's latest studio album, Royal Blue, received a 2000 Grammy nomination. Her most recent release, Deluxe Edition is a retrospective featuring highlights from throughout Koko's years with Alligator (the album also includes one previously unreleased song). Koko recently won the 2003 W.C. Handy Blues Award for Traditional Female Artist of the Year. She currently holds 23 W.C. Handy Blues Awards, more than any other artist. From rafter-rattling houserockers to steamy slow burners, Koko proves she's still the reigning “Queen of the Blues."

Born Cora Walton on a sharecropper's farm just outside Memphis, TN, Koko, nicknamed for her love of chocolate, had planted the blues seed early on. Inspired by church gospels and WDIA disc jockeys B.B. King and Rufus Thomas, Taylor began belting the blues with her five brothers and sisters and their makeshift instruments behind their house. At 18, Taylor and her soon-to-be-husband, the late Robert “Pops" Taylor, traveled to Chicago with nothing but, in Koko's words, “thirty-five cents and a box of Ritz crackers."

“Pops," working for a packing company, and Koko, cleaning houses, would frequent the city's blues clubs nightly. In time, Koko was sitting in with various bands regularly. One particular evening in 1962, Koko was approached by arranger / composer Willie Dixon. Overwhelmed by Koko's performance, Dixon landed Koko a Chess recording contract, produced several singles and two albums and penned the million-selling, 1965 hit “Wang Dang Doodle."

Taylor found a home with the city's newest blues label, Alligator Records, in 1975 and released the Grammy nominated I Got What It Takes. Since then, she recorded seven more albums for Alligator, received five more Grammy nominations and made numerous guest appearances on various albums and tribute recordings. Koko hit the silver screen with David Lynch's Wild At Heart, Mercury Rising and Blues Brothers 2000. She appeared on Late Night With David Letterman, a few years later on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, CBS's This Morning, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, CBS's Early Edition, FOX's New York City Undercover and countless regional television programs. People, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly and Life are just a few of the national publications to run features and reviews. Living Blues spotlighted Koko in a 12-page cover story and Blues Revue ran a major feature just last year.

Over the course of her almost 40-year career, Taylor has received just about every award the blues world has to offer. She has earned 23 W.C. Handy Awards (more than any other blues artist), six Grammy nominations for her last seven Alligator recordings and won a Grammy in 1984 for the compilation album Blues Explosion on Atlantic. On March 3, 1993, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley honored Taylor with a “Legend Of The Year" Award and declared “Koko Taylor Day" throughout Chicago. In 1997, she was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame. A year later, Chicago Magazine named her “Chicagoan Of The Year" and, in 1999, Taylor received the Blues Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Koko Taylor has succeeded in the male-dominated blues world. She's taken her music from the tiny clubs of Chicago's South Side to world-renown festivals. She has shared stages with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, B.B. King, Junior Wells and Buddy Guy as well as Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. Taylor continues to perform over a 100 concerts a year worldwide. She headlined the Chicago Blues Fest and toured with Buddy Guy and B.B. King in 2000. Indeed, Koko Taylor is the preeminent blues woman in the world. And that's why she is — and will remain — the undisputed “Queen of the Blues."

“A dusky, titanic voice...part Tina Turner and part Big Mama Thornton." — The New York Times

Grammy©-nominated and Harlem-bred vocalist Shemekia Copeland touring in support of her most recent, Dr. John-produced CD, Talking to Strangers, will perform live in Harrisburg. Copeland's powerhouse music has garnered her praise from mainstream press and radio and earned her many awards. She's appeared on national television numerous times, including a spot with B.B. King on the Late Show with David Letterman. Along with Dr. John, she opened for the Rolling Stones in Chicago. Copeland also appears in the Martin Scorsese-produced feature film, Lightning In A Bottle, the film of the “Year Of The Blues" concert from Radio City Music Hall. She is currently working on a new album with Stax legend Steve Cropper producing — release is scheduled for late summer 2005. Copeland is nominated for a 2005 W.C. Handy Blues Award for Contemporary Female Blues Artist of the Year.

Produced by the legendary Dr. John, Talking to Strangers finds Shemekia Copeland stretching out farther than ever before, her music treading the ground where blues and soul meet rock and roll. The album showcases Shemekia as a fresh and creative artist full of raw talent and deep emotions who crosses genres and generations with ease.

Talking to Strangers is, in Shemekia's words, “the best yet." Her range and maturity shine through, and her winning personality and sly sense of fun make this her most powerful album to date. “This album is Shemekia Copeland," she recently told Blues Revue. “Just laid-back and funky and natural and cool."

Born in Harlem, New York in 1979, Shemekia came to her singing career slowly. Her father, the late Texas blues guitar legend Johnny Clyde Copeland, recognized his daughter's talent early on. He always encouraged her to sing at home and even brought her on stage to sing at Harlem's famed Cotton Club when she was just eight. At that time Shemekia's embarrassment outweighed her desire to sing. But when she was 15 and her father's health began to slow him down, she received the calling.

Johnny Copeland, having been diagnosed with a heart condition, began taking Shemekia on the road with him. Soon Shemekia was opening, and sometimes even stealing his shows. Eventually, though, it became clear to Shemekia who was helping whom. “Dad wanted me to think I was helping him out by opening his shows when he was sick, but really, he was doing it all for me. He would go out and do gigs so I would get known. He went out of his way to get me that exposure," Shemekia recalls.

Shemekia stepped out in 1998 when Alligator released Turn the Heat Up (recorded when she was just 18) to massive popular and critical acclaim. Rave reviews ran everywhere from Billboard to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Boston Globe, Emerge and many others. “Nothing short of uncanny," said The Village Voice. “Pure, beautifully unaffected and powerful," raved Living Blues. “She roars with a sizzling hot intensity," shouted The Boston Globe.

In 2000 she returned with Wicked. Almost immediately the young singer was in high demand at radio, television and in the press. The opening song, “It's 2:00 A.M.," won the W.C. Handy Blues Award for Song Of The Year, and the album was nominated for a Grammy© Award. She appeared twice on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, and also performed on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition and the CBS Saturday Early Show. In November 2001, she performed on Austin City Limits to an enthusiastic live audience and millions more old and new fans on television all across the country.

In just four years, Shemekia has gone from playing at small clubs to headlining festivals worldwide. She's toured Europe five times and continues to perform over 150 nights a year. “Shemekia Copeland is a major talent," raved The Chicago Tribune. “Wonderfully expressive singing…breathtaking performances that touch the heart," shouted DownBeat. With Talking to Strangers, the attention Shemekia Copeland commands crosses over to people of all ages. And she is unwavering in her determination to turn the few remaining strangers of her music into lifelong fans.

This story appears courtesy of All About Jazz.
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