FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS (USA)
July 7th, 23.30
Kim Wilson - harp, vocals
Nick Curran - guitar
Kirk Eli Fletcher - guitar
Ronnie J. Weber - bass
Jason Moeller - drums
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the past 30 years, The Fabulous Thunderbirds have been the quintessential
American band. The group's distinctive and powerful sound, influenced
by a diversity of musical styles, manifested itself into a unique
musical hybrid via such barnburners as "Tuff Enuff" and
"Wrap It Up". Co-founder Kim Wilson, the sole original member,
still spearheads the group as it evolves into its newest incarnation.
"We started as a straight blues band", vocalist and harmonica
player Wilson says. "We now incorporate a mixture of a lot of
different styles. We're an American music band and we're much higher
energy than we were before."
In addition to Wilson, the current Thunderbirds line-up features Kirk
Fletcher and Nick Curran on guitar, Jimi Bott on drums, Ronnie James
Weber on bass and Gene Taylor on keyboards.
"To be in the T-Birds, you need to understand the different styles
of music and different ways of playing," Wilson comments. "You
have to be willing to adopt a more contemporary style. The guys we
have now are able to do that."
The band will tour extensively. The plan is to record a new studio
album followed by a live CD. Wilson is currently writing songs on
his own, with band members and other writers.
"I've primarily been a solo songwriter, but I'm looking forward
to experimenting with the guys in the band," Wilson says.
The thread throughout the T-Birds career has been the respect the
group commanded for its peerless musicianship and devotion to the
sounds of blues, R & B and rock 'n roll. In fact, Muddy Waters
called Wilson his favorite harmonica player and vocalist. "Muddy
Waters was very good to me," Wilson says. "He almost adopted
me. I'll never forget him."
For Kim Wilson, the musical journey started in Goleta, California.
At 17 he began playing the harmonica. His influences included Little
Walter, George "Harmonica" Smith, Lazy Lester and James
Cotton. At the same time, Wilson began singing and was deeply impacted
by Bobby "Blue" Bland, B.B. King, Otis Rush, Jimmy Rodgers
and Muddy Waters. In search of other musicians who shared his love
of the blues, Wilson headed to Minneapolis. He stayed there for a
year and a half, playing locally, before moving to the burgeoning
music scene of Austin, Texas. It was there that he met Jimmie Vaughan
and they founded the T-Birds in 1974. The band developed a reputation
as a compelling live act and subsequently signed a record deal with
In 1979, The Fabulous Thunderbirds released their first self-titled
album. Primarily blues influenced, it became a cult classic. "Things
were wide open back then," Wilson recalls. "There were hundreds
of stages where bands could show what they had."
In subsequent releases, the band started to incorporate more Cajun,
rock 'n roll and soul influences. The album "T-Bird Rhythm"
marked a creative turning point for the group as it collaborated with
noted producer Nick Lowe. In 1986, The Fabulous Thunderbirds reached
a commercial peak with the album, "Tuff Enuff". The single
of the same title as well as the singles "Wrap It Up" and
"Look At That", all went top 40. The song, "Tuff Enuff"
was featured in the film "Gung Ho" starring Michael Keaton.
For the remainder of the '80s, the band continued to record and tour,
and released the album, "Powerful Stuff". Jimmie Vaughn
left in 1989 but Wilson kept the group going, incorporating keyboards
into the guitar-driven sound. Kim moved back to California in 1996,
continuing to cultivate the T-Birds music.
"The thing about the T-Birds is that we can play both blues festival
and rock venues," Wilson comments. "We're a diversified
band now and everybody's on the same page."
As a side project Wilson formed Kim Wilson's Blues Revue, a traditional
blues band. He also owns a blues label, Blue Collar Music, that has
released three albums - one by Kim, one by "Big Al" Blake
and one by Fred Kaplan. Wilson has also recorded and written with
noted session guitarist Danny Kortchmar and drummer Steve Jordan and
may tour with them at some point. However his current focus remains
The Fabulous Thunderbirds. "This is a great time for this band,"
he says. "We're looking forward to the future."
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