About 1979 or so I remember reading an interview with the great soul singer Solomon Burke in an R & B fanzine, wherein Burke was lamenting the demise of gospel-based soul in the face of 70s disco. Burke predicted that in a few years the disco sound would grow stale, “and then the real music lover is going to say, ‘I want to hear a good, slow soul record!'” The Holmes Brothers are a perfect illustration of the kind of soul music Burke was talking about, and they also serve as a welcome example of what it means to make the old sound new. Although they place absolutely no stock in stylistic originality, there’s something indescribably fresh about the way they stack their gritty/ sweet three-part harmony on top of that dependably rock-solid, hard-swaying, arpeggiated guitar groove. At a time when so much traditional R & B has turned into tired, predictable beer-commercial music, these guys–even in the studio, mind you–flash the some exciting sparks that until recently I thought I could only get from 25-year-old sides by Burke, Wilson Pickett, or the Chambers Brothers. This act is performing as part of “Juke Joints & Jubilee,” on a terrific quadruple bill that also includes a cappella gospel vocalists the Birmingham Sunlights, country bluesman and juba dancer John Dee Holeman, and the formidable singer-pianist Fontella Bass (best known for her 1965 hit “Rescue Me”). Thursday, October 29, 8 pm, Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, 1131 E. 57th; 525-7793.

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