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Texas guitar duo to play Big Cities Lounge Nov. 18

November 17, 2010

Bnois King (left) with Smokin' Joe Kubek. Photo courtesy of Alligator Records

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

A unique Texas guitar duo will make a stop in Rockford tomorrow night (Thursday, Nov. 18) and perform at Big Cities Lounge. Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King will make their return to the downtown blues club in support of Have Blues, Will Travel, an album Living Blues magazine calls, “raucous, high-engery Texas roadhouse blues-rock.”

A seemingly unlikely pair, Kubek and King are world-touring veterans with a laundry list of influences and albums. With a flamboyant rock-driven style, Kubek was fronting his own band at 14 and worked with Freddie King and Al “TNT” Braggs by the time he was 20. King’s jazz-soaked brand of blues and attacking vocals transformed him into one of the best-known singers and writers on the modern scene. Kubek and King have recorded more than a dozen albums together since joining forces in 1989.

Have Blues Will, Travel unique, raw and true to Texas blues

It’s tough to imagine Texas blues without thinking of the Vaughan brothers and W.C. Clark. Even Blind Willie Johnson made his mark with a Texas brand of gospel blues charged with a pocketknife slide. In 1989, Kubek and King bottled a sound with the drive of a rock show and the swing and backbeats that continue to keep roadhouses shaking until the wee hours of the morning.

Have Blues,Will Travel (Alligator, 2010), follows a range of influences, most notably the Allman Brothers-like multi-tracked and phased guitar arrangement, which allows the different styles of King and Kubek to shine equally.

King’s the vocalist of the duo and proves why he’s atop the blues A-list. Instrumentally, each song could go in several directions, riding the coattails of both guitarists. Kubek and King, however, keep it in the middle of a blues/jazz intersection where chops complement one another without losing feel and punch. Both players provide succinct, to-the-point solos that rarely dominate the songs and never overshadow the other. From boogie-woogie to slow, signature blues, Have Blues, Will Travel represents Alligator as well as anything the label ever released and puts a “must-see” stamp on the live show, especially when passing through the Lone Star State.

Thursday’s show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Big Cities Lounge is at 905 E. State St. The club can be reached at (815) 965-6026. Smokin’ Joe Kubek can be found at smokinjoekubek.com and alligator.com.

From the Nov. 17-23, 2010 issue

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