Though Blues music is often associated with Chicago and the Mississippi Delta, Texas can stake its claim to the genre’s most important figures as well. Stevie Ray Vaughan, T-Bone Walker, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Freddie King all honed their skills in the Lone Star State, and now Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King are carrying the torch of the state’s influential sound. On Saturday, December 11, Kubek and King will perform at Magic City Blues Society’s Blues Ball 2010 to be held at Rogue Tavern. The Lefty Collins Band will open the 8 p.m. show. Recently, I caught up with Kubek by phone as he and King were traveling across chilly Michigan.
Weekly: Joe, thanks for your time today. How long are you guys out on the road?
Kubek: We’ve got another week out here for a total of a couple of weeks. We were up in Canada and we can’t wait to get down to the South (laughs).
Weekly: It seems like artists are arranging their tour schedules in more manageable stretches than in the past— is that a fair statement?
Kubek: A lot of it is just the way things are these days. There’s not a whole lot of sense in going out there like we used to. In the mid-‘90s, we’d go out for a month, come home for three or four days, and go out for another month. But we’re getting older now and we try to make the dots connect where it makes more sense.
Weekly: We’re really enjoying your new CD, Have Blues Will Travel (Alligator Records). If you will, talk about the writing process for the album’s material.
Kubek: We worked hard on that one and we had a good time doing it. Bnois and I would sit down in my living room and both of us have a writing procedure—we’re old-school and use a couple of little cassette players. He’ll have some ideas for some lyrics and I’ll have some ideas for some music and we’ll just go from there.
Weekly: How do you feel about the current climate of music in the age of iTunes, Youtube and satellite radio? Some artists say it’s a great time given the easy accessibility and some say it’s difficult to get noticed due to the flood of music being released.
Kubek: I’d have to agree with both. It is a great thing because you can find a lot of stuff these days and you can find a lot of literature on the artists as well. It’s right there at your fingertips. It’s so saturated out there that record companies are pulling their hair out a lot of the time and trying to figure out how to sell the stuff and advertise because of all the competition you have to deal with. It’s going to keep changing and you’ve got to figure out how to change with it.
Weekly: How do songs stay fresh to you after you’ve performed them 1,000 times?
Kubek: To see the people that are digging it makes all the difference in the world. When you play a song and people are flipping out over the fact you’re playing that song—that’s everything.
Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $15 - $12 for Magic City Blues Society members - and can be purchased at www.roguetavern.com.
Brent Thompson writes about popular music for Birmingham Weekly. Send your comments to email@example.com.