“Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys had been trying to get me to record with him for three years. He wanted me for three days in his studio in Nashville. Three days? What you figuring on doing? I committed and went in early spring. I recorded the Cypress Grove album in three hours. Don’t fabricate, don’t lie, and do what the good Lord blessed you to do. I opened for the Black Keys at the Anthem in D.C. It was a packed house with standing room only. The stage manager asked if I was nervous. Nervous? I will play just as hard for one person as 100,000. I thank God that I get to play. If you ask me to play, I will be there. I didn’t know Jason Isbell before he asked me to open for him at the Ryman.
Dan found my music online. In the recording studio, I play the music just how I feel it. In life, the stuff you know, don’t let no outside person make it complicated or dictate what to do. They put a drummer, a bass, and a guitar player in with me but they had to fit in with me. I welcome people to sit in and play with me, but I am a hard road to follow. I learned how to play from people who didn’t know how to read or write. They didn’t know a whole note from a half note or above a note. If you tell me to play in D or E, that is talking Greek to me. I mentally write songs as I go. I do the best I can to keep it original and stay true to what my forefathers did.
My mom and dad started the Blue Front Cafe in 1948. I was one year old. My mom worked her butt off in the kitchen and she made sure me, my sister and baby brother were taken care of. We couldn’t come up front. When I was 12 or 13, she started grooming me to handle this. She passed the keys to me in 1970. She told me some months they are going to make you feel like you are going to be rich and some months they will make you feel like you are going to the poor house. I go home to sleep, take a bath, and eat at home, but I live at the Blue Front.
The Blue Front is is a part of me and means a lot to Mississippi. We still have some sweaty nights where we pack the house. People from Los Angeles and Montana are having birthday parties at the Blue Front and will fly their friends in. I get to sit here in Bentonia, Mississippi and people from around the world come to me. Two guys from Brooklyn left right before you walked in. Last week they came from Australia, Johannesburg, South Africa, and Barcelona, Spain.
I still feel undiscovered but discovered or not doesn’t mean nothing. I am still going to be me, Jimmy Duck Holmes. Whatever you want to add to that title is on you. I am a 72-year-old man and I thank God from the bottom of my heart that people care enough to stop by Bentonia to see me.”