As the music industry continues with its self-destructive behavior, it opens up more space for deserving acts with their own unique direction and indie attitude.
The Holmes Brothers — bassist-vocalist Sherman Holmes; Wendell Holmes, guitar, piano, vocals; and drummer-vocalist Popsy Dixon — like many African American artists — got their start singing in church. But a decades-long residency in a New York City bar made them into a formidable outfit, able to move easily between blues, soul, country, Americana and pop, all drenched in their churchy gospel harmonies.
Their soulful treatment of country tunes is one of the delights of their latest release, “State of Grace" (Alligator). Hank Williams’ “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still in Love With You,” gets a makeover that’s part bluegrass, part sanctified soul, with Rosanne Cash adding her wailing vocals to the mix. Lyle Lovett’s sarcastic “God Will Forgive You (But I Won’t)” sounds a lot more forgiving coming from the brothers, while Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” becomes a zydeco stomper. Originals like Wendell’s 1950s-flavored ballad “Standing in the Need of Love” and Sherman’s soulful blues boogie “Close the Door” stand up favorably to the classic covers.
Catch the trio live at Biscuits & Blues on Aug. 25 at 8 and 10 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call (415) 292-2583 or visit www.biscuitsandblues.com.
Slightly Stoopid broke out of San Diego with its own unique style — a blend of rock, roots reggae, dub, blues, hip-hop, jazz and acoustica, marked by gorgeous vocal harmonies and a subtle-but-smoking horn section. “Chronchitis,” the group’s latest release on the indie Skunk label, has 17 deep, smoky tunes that clocks in at an hour-plus.
Live, the band indulges in long, free-flowing jams that flow from tune to tune and mood to mood, creating an uplifting vibe, even when they’re dealing with the political and economic tribulations that make modern life so harrowing.
The band headlines the Greek Theatre in Berkeley on Saturday, with G. Love and Zoometric. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $32.50. Call (510) 809-0100 or visit www.apeconcerts.com.
Lil’ Brian and The Travelers come from Barrett Station, Texas, and blend zydeco, rap, blues, funk, reggae and more into a decidedly old-school sound that pleases the younger generation without alienating older folks. “Worldwide,” out nationally this month on Freh’toi Records, is a low-key gem featuring Brian’s dazzling accordion work and smoky, stirring tenor, backed by a band thatknows how to lay down a powerful, down-home groove.