A lot of blues and R & B artists come out of the church, but I can’t think of anyone this side of Solomon Burke who can match the Holmes Brothers for fusing the spiritually uplifting ecstasy of gospel music with the funky, sensual celebration of life that’s at the heart of the blues. The first thing you notice is their harmonies: sinewy as Sam and Dave at their best but with a feel of questing and ascension, the Holmeses’ voices bring a heartbreaking tinge to even a low-down Jimmy Reed blues grinder; when they erupt into a gospel chestnut like “None but the Righteous” you’re ready to throw away your beer and jump into the nearest body of baptismal water. But then the musicianship grabs you–Wendell Holmes’s tight, gut-funky guitar laid over brother Sherman’s strutting bass lines and Willie “Popsy” Dixon’s rolling, diddly-bopping percussion. The Holmeses excel at so many styles, fusing so many influences with such effortless mastery, that they can’t seem to attain the stardom they deserve: it takes a true devotee of virtuosity and soulful musical expression to appreciate them. Friday, 9:30 PM, Buddy Guy’s Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 427-0333 or 427-1190. Saturday, 10 PM, FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn; 708-788-2118.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/David Gahr.