Thursday May 10, 2012

PITTSFIELD

Arthur Holmes, lead guitarist and vocalist for the Arthur Holmes Blues Band, is a selfproclaimed "lover of the blues." Holmes and his bandmates - Gary "Hammond" Smith on organ, John Worth on bass and Bridget Wnukowski on drums - have been slowly, but determinedly building a following the past few years, both locally and regionally.

The quartet will play at the Colonial Theatre on May 19 as part of "Guitar Jam IV."

The Arthur Holmes Blues Band has just released its second album, "What Can A Good Man Do?", and it features Holmes' signature guitar licks.

In a recent interview with The Eagle, Holmes, who lives in Pittsfield, talked about his family, his love of blues music, and spreading the gospel of the blues.

Q:How long has the band been together?

A:I've been playing music with John [Worth] since 1997. As a band, we've been playing for the past four years, although Bridget joined us last summer. Gary, I found on Craigslist.

Q: Craigslist?

A: Yeah, Gary is our seasoned veteran. He toured with a band called Vice in the 1970s. And now he goes around the country tuning those giant organs you see in churches. He's one of only a few guys in the U.S. that does it. It's a pretty amazing job.

Q: How did you become a fan of the blues?

A: When I was growing up, I listened to my dad's old 8-track blues tapes: B.B. King, Muddy Waters. My father is originally from the South, from Georgia, and he moved up here to work at Pfizer in Canaan [Conn.]. He was a big blues guy. My mom listened to Elvis Presley, Roy Clark, Johnny Horton. You know who Johnny Horton is?

Q: Yes. Rockabilly icon. "The Battle of New Orleans."

A: Yeah. I listened to all that music, and then I was ruined by The Beatles [Laughs]. They were amazing. But the blues were always there.

Q: You are known as one of the better guitarists in the Berkshires. Who are your influences?

A: Gary Moore, Joe Bonamassa, Buddy Guy, Albert King. Billy Gibbons [of ZZ Top] looms large in my life. And I think Stevie Ray Vaughan was one of the best two or three guitarists in the history of music. I've heard him play jazz riffs as well as anyone. And in the next minute, just shred. He was fantastic.

Q: Do you have any favorite county venues?

A: Flavours in Pittsfield is fun. And when we go up to Adams, we always get a good crowd at Rascal's Pub, or the PNA, which we call the "Pa-nah."

Q: You and everybody else in Adams. But I imagine it isn't easy sometimes to play the blues in the Berkshires.

A: No, sometimes it isn't. When we go to the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Troy [N.Y.], which is a great blues club, people will be applauding in the middle of a song! Some of the venues we play in the Berkshires, we get a dozen, two dozen people.

Q: And they yell for "Mustang Sally" ...

A:[ Laughs]. Yeah. We won't be playing "Mustang Sally" at the Colonial.

To reach Derek Gentile: dgentile@berkshireeagle.com, or (413) 496-6251.

On Twitter:@DerekGentile



Guitar Jam IV

When: Saturday, May 19, 8 p.m.

Where: Colonial Theatre, 111 South St., Pittsfield.

The bands: Who Are You, Spurs USA, T-Bone Daddy, Arthur Holmes Blues Band.

Presented by: The Berkshire Eagle. Concert proceeds go to News papers in Education, a program that encourages students to read.

Tickets: $17 and $27. Available at the Colonial box office or via (413) 997-4444 or www.BerkshireTheatre Group.org.

Before the show: Lenox folk trio Mountain Breeze will perform in the lobby from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Free admission.