It's still uphill for blues guitarist Arthur Holmes


PITTSFIELD -- He may be one of the best blues guitarists to ever play in the Berkshires, but it is still an uphill climb for Arthur Holmes.

"[Booking gigs] has been a little better this past year, but it's never easy," he said in a recent phone interview. "It's all about notoriety. People have to know who you are."

The county's strata of hard-core blues fans know Holmes and his band, the Arthur Holmes Blues Band, very well.

And there is no doubt some excitement among them, as the AHBB, as it is popularly known, will be the opening act for The Blues Show this Saturday at the Colonial Theatre.

Legendary harmonica player James Montgomery will headline. Montgomery, who lived in Williamstown for a time in the 1980s, has played with some of the giants of the business, including Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, B.B. King and Mick Jagger.

New York city bluesman Popa Chubby will also appear. Chubby is another of the more exciting guitar players in the country. He is one of the foremost practitioners of electric blues of the U.S.

"It should be fun," said Holmes. "We're excited to be there."

Over the past year, the AHBB band has played a number of blues festivals, the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston, and a number of big club dates in New York and Connecticut, not to mention an electric performance at last year's "Guitar Jam" at the Colonial.

Holmes' wife, Kelly Holmes, is the de facto manager of the band. She books the lion's share of the band's gigs, along with bassist John Worth.

"It's funny," said Holmes. "When I started out, I would try to contract promoters, and they wouldn't return my calls. But when my wife started her production company, Shamrock Productions, we started getting callbacks. I guess they just figured we were a little more organized."

Whatever the reason, Holmes and his band are moving up the popularity ladder, both locally and regionally. Holmes was called a "guitar wizard" in a recent review of a show in Albany, and the band has earned similar strong reviews.

"The blues fesivals are where it's at for us," said Holmes. "We were the second band up in a recent festival, and there are already 1,500, 2,000 people at the show. And a few weeks later, we were at the Hard Rock Cafe, and there were a number of people there who came because they heard us at the festival. It's all about getting seen."

Following their Colonial gig, the AHBB will play a full set at the Underground on Feb 9.

"The folks at the Underground have been good to us," said Holmes. "We're excited to play there."

To reach Derek Gentile:,
or (413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @DerekGentile


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