The Fabulous Thunderbirds featuring Kim Wilson


The Fabulous Thunderbirds featuring Kim Wilson

W.C. Clark Blues Revue, Bill Carter & the Blame

Sat · March 25, 2017

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

$32.00 - $35.00

Sold Out

The Fabulous Thunderbirds featuring Kim Wilson
The Fabulous Thunderbirds featuring Kim Wilson
Photo by K E Johnson

For over 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 Jay Moeller on drums, Johnny Moeller and Mike Keller on guitar, and Randy Bermudes on bass.

“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 continues to tour extensively, in both the U.S. and Europe. 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 CBS/Epic Records.

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.”
W.C. Clark Blues Revue
W.C. Clark Blues Revue
“If the blues is played right,” says Austin, Texas native W.C. Clark, “it makes your soul feel clean.” Indeed, master guitarist/vocalist Clark – known as “The Godfather of Austin Blues” – has been playing the blues right and cleansing souls from the east side of Austin to stages around the world for over 40 years. He's been mentoring countless young blues and soul players in the finer points of the music for almost as long. Blues stars from Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan to Angela Strehli to Lou Ann Barton to Marcia Ball have all perfected their craft under Clark's tutelage. Clark's mix of modern Texas blues, searing guitar and heartfelt, Memphis-style soul vocals have made him a favorite of blues and R&B fans alike.
Bill Carter & the Blame
Bill Carter & the Blame
Austin-based singer-songwriter Bill Carter’s list of bona fides is so long, it’s hard to decide which credits to note first. We could start with his first big songwriting score, “Why Get Up?,” heard on the Fabulous Thunderbirds’ breakout album, Tuff Enuff. There’s a breakfast cereal commercial that earned the about-to-be-evicted Carter and his co-writer wife, Ruth Ellsworth, a then-huge $25,000 payday. Then there’s “Crossfire,” the No. 1 hit they wrote with Chris Layton, Tommy Shannonand Reese Wynans — a.k.a. Double Trouble, the band who backed T-bird Jimmie Vaughan’s little brother, Stevie Ray. Or there’s “Anything Made of Paper,” penned for the West Memphis 3’s Damien Echols, which Carter recorded with pal Johnny Depp and performed on the Late Show With David Letterman. Featured in the West of Memphis documentary and on the accompanying soundtrack, it’s also an award-winning animated video.

Carter’s songs have been covered by scores of major artists, from John Mayall and Ruth Brown to Robert Palmer and Waylon Jennings; among his accolades is a BMI Million Air award for more than three million “Crossfire” spins. But Carter has also released several albums of his own, the latest of which, Innocent Victims and Evil Companions, bowsFebruary 26, 2016, on Forty Below Records.

On this one, the artist takes blues, soul, country and rock into realms both far-reaching and familiar, aided by several A-team Austin players. They include guitarists Charlie Sexton and Denny Freeman(Dylan’s current and former, respectively) and David Holt (Joe Ely, the Mavericks, Storyville); drummer Dony Wynn (Robert Palmer, Charlie Mars); keyboardist Mike Thompson (the Eagles, together and solo); fiddler Richard Bowden (Maines Brothers, Austin Lounge Lizards); the Tosca String Quartet(everyone from David Byrne to the Dixie Chicks); and brass/woodwind player/string arranger John Mills.

But it’s his resonant tenor and just-right production — and songwriting and performing chops, including his six- and 12-string acoustic guitar, harmonica and percussion work — that drive this release from the first track, “Black Lion,” to the 14th, “No More Runnin’.” Musically and lyrically, Carter references a rich past while rooting himself firmly in the present.

“Recipe for Disaster,” in which he questions how the hope-filled ’60s contorted into today’s mad world, sounds like a lost Warren Zevon track (and namechecks John Lennon). Carter crafts sinfully delicious retro pop licks in “Feel Town”; “Fisherman’s Daughter,” which he describes as a love song, delivers a wonderfully loose back-porch blues/honky-tonk vibe; and “Sooner or Later” flat-out rocks. “Lost in a Day” and “Livin’ in It” suggest the Traveling Wilburys constructing a new Wall of Sound. And yes, that’s Sexton playing electric sitar on “Missing Guru,” about the still-fugitive swami convicted of sexually abusing minors in his Austin-area ashram.

And one might be forgiven for wondering whether “Black Lion,” which Carter characterizes as “drug-induced paranormal paranoia isolation,” bears a relationship to “Bug House in Pasadena” — his dismal, yet humorous account of “life in the cackle factory.”
The far sunnier “Solar Powered Radio,” complete with Vox and Fender Rhodes tickles, could become the theme song for the Austin-area station that inspired it.

“Watch what you say around me; I’ll put it in a song,” Carter likes to joke. Apparently, he isn’t kidding — despite his reputation for hanging around with characters like Depp and the Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Haynes, who, with Carter and Sal Jenco, formed the single-lettered quartet P in the ’90s. (Carter also can be heard playing bass on the Surfers’ 1996 classic Electriclarryland.)

Though Carter just about holds native-son status in Austin, his roots actually trace back to Kentucky, where his father, Cash Carter, was born. Cash was the son of William Henry Carter (Bill’s namesake). William Henry’s first cousin was A.P. Carter, scion of country royals the Carter Family. Bill’s bluegrass-loving father, a Navy petty officer, raised his sons in Washington state.

Like so many kids of his generation, Carter picked up a guitar after hearing Dylan, and joined a band after hearing the Beatles. He made is way to Austin in 1976, and met Ruth not long after. They’ve been partners and collaborators ever since. (She shares backing vocals with Kimmie Rhodeson “Fisherman’s Daughter.”)

Innocent Victims and Evil Companions is Carter’s ninth self-produced album, and his first for Forty Below Records. But Carter’s songs, with and without Ellsworth (i.e., “Richest Man,” “Willie the Wimp”) can be heard on many other artists’ albums. In 2000, “Crossfire” earned them an Austin Music Award for “Song of the Decade.” In 2012, Austin PBS affiliateKLRU-TV presented an “Arts in Context” segment about Carter and his band, the Blame, that featured performances with Freeman, Wynn, Holt,Will Sexton and Cindy Cashdollar, among others, and interviews with notable names including Depp and Billy F. Gibbons. It earned producer-director Pat Kondelis an Emmy. Kondelis and Brandon Ray co-directed the animated video for “Anything Made of Paper,” which has won several awards as well.

As for producing his own work, Carter says his rein-holding, in this case, was driven by practicality as well as creativity. “I had all this stuff in my head on every song, which was a lot of information,” he explains. “I recorded all the songs with just drums and acoustic guitar at first, so I had to know exactly where the breaks or solos or string sections were going to fall. I didn’t have the luxury of spending 10,000 hours in the studio. I would hate to have someone just doing something I could have done myself.”

That dedication is just one hallmark of a true musician — the kind others turn to for inspiration and material. Of course, like any songwriter, Carter is flattered when others cover his songs. But there’s something special about hearing them straight from their source, and he can’t wait to unleash this latest batch. Because there’s already more where they came from.
Venue Information:
305 E 5th Street
Austin, TX, 78701