An Article by Johnny Cole
Photos by Stephen Anderson
Great music should be honored and cherished. The Southland Music Line is privileged to live in a region of the country where such music has a deep-rooted history and legacy admired by millions from around the globe. In my travels around the world, I’ve met people from Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Japan and elsewhere who are enthusiastic to learn that I am from Mississippi. Their interest and surprising knowledge of my home state’s history of music is at times mind-blowing. One of the places mentioned by many is the small Mississippi juke joint, “Blue Front Cafe” that is owned and operated by the last of the great Bentonia bluesmen and 2021 Grammy Nominee, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes.
Located approximately 30 miles north of the state capital of Jackson in Bentonia, Mississippi, the Blue Front Cafe has been in operation since 1948. This landmark venue has played an important part in the history of the blues. Not only is it part of the famous Mississippi Blues Trail, it has also been profiled in countless documentary films, including the 2015 “I Am The Blues”.
We have featured Jimmy “Duck” Holmes in a number of articles and photo collections from his appearances at the Bentonia Blues Festival, Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival to The Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration where a U.S. postal stamp was released prominently featuring Holmes.
Top Photo: Jimmy “Duck” Holmes; Above photo: Jimmy “Duck” Holmes signing autograph for a fan inside the Blue Front Cafe
In 2019, Mr. Holmes released his latest album, “Cypress Grove”, produced by the Black Keys’ multi-talented Dan Auerbach. The album was met with positive reviews and widespread praise. The online music database AllMusic named the album “Favorite Blues Album of 2019” and more recently, The Recording Academy (formerly known as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) nominated “Cypress Grove” for Best Traditional Blues Album at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.
On Sunday, March 14, 2021, the fans and friends of Jimmy “Duck” Holmes” gathered outside the Blue Front Cafe to celebrate his Grammy Award nomination. Holmes graciously thanked everyone when he said “I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart and for that I am already a winner”. The beautiful day in Bentonia was a perfect setting for the event which included live music and an abundant amount of free pulled pork and boiled crawfish – there was definitely no shortage of food!
Though Holmes didn’t win the Grammy that was presented during the early part of this year’s March 14th ceremony, everyone at the Blue Front Cafe was still beaming with admiration for the blues legend. Being honored with a nomination is truly something to be respected and admired.
The legendary Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, MS, the state’s oldest Juke Joint.
The Southland Music Line was happy to have made the short 3 1/2 hour drive from the Gulf Coast to be on hand for this special day, which was more than who won an award or not, but rather a true celebration of music from our home state and the legendary musicians who make it special.
We continue to look forward to spotlighting the music from our great state of Mississippi through individual articles, photo collections and our ongoing Mississippi Blues Trail Series. We want to thank Jimmy “Duck'” Holmes and everyone who helped to make the March 14th Grammy party in Bentonia a most memorable experience.
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes sporting a medal from “Tiffany & Company” (New York City) honoring his Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Blues Album.
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