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“The T-Birds have spread their wings, but are always straight and true. Soul music became a recurring style for them, and especially for Wilson. Strong Like That retains a blues edge but lights a major blaze under that soul meter mercury…. The songs [Kim Wilson] wrote, and the unique covers here, make for one of the best T-Birds albums in some time.” – Tom Clarke, Elmore


“I’ve always wanted my music to stand up to my heroes’ music,” reflects co-founder and harmonica great, Kim Wilson. On The Fabulous Thunderbirds’ new album Strong Like That (August 26, 2016), Wilson pairs his own compositions alongside his heroes: Clarence Coulter, Eddie Floyd, Eddie Holland and Cornelius Grant. The album balances the mournfulness of blues with all the joy of soul music.

Over thirty years ago, The Fabulous Thunderbirds were the first band to come out with a rock ‘n’ roll beat that was basically the blues. “You can’t really push the envelope unless you’re versed in the blues,” Wilson says. “I am what I am. I started playing harmonica with all the old guys when I was a kid, 18 or 19 years old.”

“Nobody enhances what I do like the band on this album,” says Wilson, who is joined by guitarist Johnny Moeller, bassist Steve Gomes, Kevin Anker on keyboards, with Wes Watkins and Robb Stupka on drums. “You want to be really good if you’ve been doing it as long as I have.”

Wilson counts Little Walter, George “Harmonica” Smith, and Lazy Lester as influences, but when he “heard that first record of James Cotton’s on Verve,” he realized he could play a lot of different music and legitimize it. By the time he was 18, he was playing with Albert Collins and Eddie Taylor. He moved to Minneapolis for about a year and a half before heading back down to Austin, Texas, to a vibrant music scene that was evolving energetically, and founded The Fabulous Thunderbirds. “Back then is when I really started playing with the old guys like Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters and I got to see up close how good they were and the high standards they set for themselves and their music.”

In addition to Strong Like That, the T-Birds have one other release on Severn Records, On the Verge.


LINER NOTES

Thanks to Shannon Sousa, the love of my life!; Glen Parrish; Gerri Leonard; Michael Leonard; David & Bridget Earl & the team at Severn Records; Steven and Hunter; Lisa Stutts; Ricky Riker; Joe Filisko; Hohner Harmonica; Fender Guitars; D’Addarìo Strings; Ruby Tubes; Ultimate Support; Sousa; Michael Leonard; Sam Holden, RIP; Randy Skirvin; Monterey Peninsula Artists; Victoria Tap; Doug Morris; Alan Becker; Missi Callazzo; John Monforte; Bob Morelli; Bill Nash at Nash Guitars; Callais Parrish; Kim Gallagher; Michelle Hirsch; Carla Parisi; Garry Buck; Jordan Carriere; Jerry Lima; Josh Swan; and Lisa Stutts.  Finally, to the band, Johnny Moeller, Steve Gomes, Kevin Anker, Wes Watkins and Robb Stupka: I’m only as the good as the guys I play with. You guys rock! — Kim Wilson

MUSICIANS

Kim Wilson: Vocals and Harmonica
Johnny Moeller: Guitars
Kevin Anker: Keyboards
Steve Gomes: Bass
Robb Stupka: Drums

SPECIAL GUESTS

Anson Funderburgh – Lead Guitar (2)
Roosevelt Collier – Steel Guitar (1)
Wes Watkins – Drums (1)
Sara Mia – Background Vocals (1)
Christal Rheams and Caleb Green – Background Vocals (2, 6, 8, 9)

Horns arranged and conducted by Kenny Rittenhouse
Kenny Rittenhouse – Trumpet
Joe Donegan – Trumpet
Antonio Orta – Tenor Sax and Flutes
Bill Holmes – Trombone

CREDITS

Produced by Kevin Anker, David Earl, Steve Gomes and Kim Wilson
Engineered by David Earl, Kevin Anker and John Monforte at Severn Sound Studio, Annapolis, MD
Mastered by Charlie Pilzer at Airshow Mastering, Takoma Park, MD
Photography by Sam Holden, Baltimore, MD
Graphic Design by Al Brandtner, Brandtner Design, Chicago, IL

Severn CD0067