Photos: In Mississippi, small-town bluesman keeps aging music alive

Jimmy 'Duck' Holmes, 73, is the last Bentonia bluesman, the carrier of a dying musical and oral storytelling tradition born in this Mississippi town of less than 500 people. And now, he's a Grammy-nominated artist, with a recent nod in the Best Traditional Blues Album category for Cypress Grove, a record he hopes will help preserve the Bentonia blues long after he’s gone.

PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:34 PM IST 9 Photos
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Bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes plays a quick ditty at the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album. (AP)

Bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes plays a quick ditty at the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album. (AP)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:34 PM IST
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The Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., photographed, Jan. 21, 2021, is one of oldest surviving juke joints in the state, and owned by bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, whose ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album.(AP)

The Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., photographed, Jan. 21, 2021, is one of oldest surviving juke joints in the state, and owned by bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, whose ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album.(AP)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:34 PM IST
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Bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes gestures as he speaks of the area musicians he learned the style of the Bentonia Blues from at his Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album.(AP)

Bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes gestures as he speaks of the area musicians he learned the style of the Bentonia Blues from at his Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album.(AP)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:34 PM IST
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Bluesman and proprietor Jimmy "Duck" Holmes stands before his Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. The cafe is one of oldest surviving juke joints in the state. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album. (AP)

Bluesman and proprietor Jimmy "Duck" Holmes stands before his Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. The cafe is one of oldest surviving juke joints in the state. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album. (AP)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:34 PM IST
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Portraits of Henry Stuckey, the originator of the Bentonia blues, second from right, and area resident and bluesman Jack Owens, hang high on the wall at the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. Blues performer Jimmy "Duck" Holmes credits both Stuckey and Owens for having influenced his adoption of the Bentonia style of blues playing. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album.(AP)

Portraits of Henry Stuckey, the originator of the Bentonia blues, second from right, and area resident and bluesman Jack Owens, hang high on the wall at the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. Blues performer Jimmy "Duck" Holmes credits both Stuckey and Owens for having influenced his adoption of the Bentonia style of blues playing. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album.(AP)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:34 PM IST
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A customer walks out of the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., while a YouTube video of owner and bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes plays on the television set, Jan. 21, 2021. The cafe is among the oldest surviving juke joints in the state, having been founded by Holmes parents.(AP)

A customer walks out of the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., while a YouTube video of owner and bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes plays on the television set, Jan. 21, 2021. The cafe is among the oldest surviving juke joints in the state, having been founded by Holmes parents.(AP)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:34 PM IST
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Bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes says he can play the Bentonia style of blues on any type of guitar, but prefers using an acoustic model such as this one at his Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album. (AP)

Bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes says he can play the Bentonia style of blues on any type of guitar, but prefers using an acoustic model such as this one at his Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album. (AP)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:34 PM IST
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An album cover featuring the portrait of blues performer Jimmy "Duck" Holmes peers behind the bluesman as he talks of the area musicians from whom he learned the style of the Bentonia Blues, during an interview at the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album. (AP)

An album cover featuring the portrait of blues performer Jimmy "Duck" Holmes peers behind the bluesman as he talks of the area musicians from whom he learned the style of the Bentonia Blues, during an interview at the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album. (AP)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:34 PM IST
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Bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes speaks of the area musicians he learned the style of the Bentonia Blues from at the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album.(AP)

Bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes speaks of the area musicians he learned the style of the Bentonia Blues from at the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album.(AP)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:34 PM IST
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