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Holmes Brothers Pull A Cheap Trick On New Album

Of the Oakland Press

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As arch purveyors of blues, R&B and gospel, we don’t think of the Holmes Brothers as a group that would cover Cheap Trick songs.

But the Virginia trio’s latest album, “State of Grace,” features a rendition of the rock group’s 1979 hit “I Want You to Want Me.”

“I’ve got to be honest,” says Wendell Holmes, 63, “when the producer (Craig Street) fi rst brought it, I was not so much in favor of doing it, ’cause it’s so different for us. But he said, ‘Come on, guys. Let’s try to make it our own.’

“So we slowed it down, and it turned out really good. The harmonies worked really good in it. It’s so different from the original version; we kind of made it into a love ballad.”

“I Want You to Want Me” is just one of several covers Holmes, his brother Sherman Holmes and drummer Popsy Dixon took on for “State of Grace.” The trio — which won Band of the Year at the 2005 Blues Music Awards — also brought its own fl avor to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising,” Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,” and songs by Hank Williams, George Jones and Lyle Lovett.

Wendell Holmes says the variety come naturally to the group.

“A lot has to do with our background,” he explains. “Growing up in the ’40s and the ’50s, we listened to a lot of country-Western, blues, rhythm & blues, gospel ... A lot of people think we would more likely do the blues or gospel, but we’re very heavily infl uenced by Hank Williams, too.

“We just try to make it our own. We try to do a lot of three-part harmony singing, which even in the blues is a little different. We bring some uniqueness to it all. It’s very time-consuming, but that’s par for the course. It’s a labor of love.”

The Holmes Brothers perform at 8 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 24th) at The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $20. Call (734) 761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

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