He acknowledges the influence not only of Skip James, but also, somewhat more for him, Jack Owens, a player who was not known much outside of Bentonia, and Henry Stuckey, whom Holmes considers the founder of the style and who was never recorded. Holmes was full of great stories and remembrances of life in rural Mississippi in his younger days. “Believe it or not, when I was a kid we didn’t have no clock in the house,” recalls Holmes. “The roosters got us up, and the sun brought us in.”
Holmes and Bean collaborated on a short middle set, before Bean closed the night out with a lively performance and storytelling. From Meister:
Bean had the audience dancing and laughing with his stories and the propulsive power of his performance. He does a lot of covers of classic blues songs, something that often would annoy me, but not when he does it – – because he totally transforms the songs of Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Z. Z. Hill, and many others and truly makes them his own. Bean was full of stories, ideas, advice, and information. A juke house and a juke joint are two different things, said Bean, who went on to lightheartedly caution the audience to read blues books critically and not just accept everything that is in them.
You can check out a photo recap of the two performances and read Johnny Meister’s entire review here. To listen to audio from both sets, go here. The Mississippi Blues Project, which is supported by a grant from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, continues on February 15 with performances by Anthony “Big A” Sherrod and Robert Belfour for Free at Noon at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.