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A First for blues favorite.

Byline: Karen Nugent

WORCESTER - Hugh Holmes, AKA the "Undaunted Professor Harp" will likely remain undaunted for his first appearance at the city's First Night festivities.

The Boston blues favorite will take the stage from 7-7:45 p.m. today in the gymnasium at the United Congregational Church.

Holmes, 57, has been playing the New England area and beyond for 35 years. Born and raised around Boston, Holmes moved from rock 'n' roll to blues during the Boston blues revival in the late 1960s. A super performance by blues harmonica great George "Harmonica" Smith, helped lure him away from drums and into blues harp.

Holmes, who lives in Brockton, said his unique repertoire, which sometimes sounds like Texas blues, is purely derived from roots music, but it can include rock n' roll, or rhythm and blues.

"As long as it's in the roots vein, I'm happy," he said.

With a deep singing style full of shouts, whoops, and other wild sounds, his vocals sound a bit like the legendary Muddy Waters, who, in fact is partly responsible for the "professor" moniker, although it was a malapropism.

Holmes met Muddy in the '70s, and got to sit in with his band. Muddy called him up to the stage as "the professional of the harp." Later, singer and songwriter Solomon Burke gave him the name "Professor Harmonica Holmes."

The "undaunted" was added by Holmes himself in his staunch refusal to compromise his music, even in the face of fewer and fewer blues and live music fans.

Holmes has performed with some well-known bands throughout the Northeast, including Burke, Luther "Guitar Jr." Johnson and Pete Best (the "fifth Beatle.") Holmes also played on NBC's Today Show.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Dec 31, 2009
Words:282
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