Smokin' Joe Kubek and Bnois King Release New CD
Kubek and King played identical graphite acoustic guitars, trimmed with colorful abalone shell; however, both typically play lead electric guitar. Kubek favors his Gibson J200, and King typically chooses his Fender Strat or custom Indian.
Both self-taught, Kubek and King have played the guitar since they were young―Kubek since first grade and King since he was six. Kubek, who was born in Grove City, PA, and raised in Irving, Texas, was inspired by The Beatles. He went pro at the age of 14 and played in the band of legendary blues guitarist Freddie King, known as “The Texas Cannonball.”
Bnois King, from Monroe, LA, was influenced by the Louisiana jazz that surrounded him, and he began with bebop. He started his career as a teen when he joined a big band, The New Sounds, comprised of a group of local music instructors from Louisiana. The bandleader, who was also King’s high school instructor, taught him to play by ear. King said, “I got the gig with The New Sounds because it was back when electric guitar was starting to get popular, and people had to have an electric guitar in the band.”
In the 1980s, Kubek and King met at an event as they were both back stage. They decided to form a duo and have been playing together for more than 20 years. King, who started singing 25 years ago, added his rich, raspy vocals to the act, lending an authentic style to their blues sound.
In addition to Kubek and King’s upbeat Texas blues guitar style, their original songs are their strength. Kubek writes the melodies with good prosody as the accents of the lyrics and music are well-synchronized. King writes carefully crafted lyrics that are reminiscent of old-style urban blues, with verses such as, “Do unto others before they can do unto you,” illustrating a defiant determination that overcomes the woeful troubles portrayed in blues songs. Occasionally, the two artists perform some songs from the 1920s, such as “Mama’s Bad Luck Child,” written in 1929 by Alger “Texas” Alexander, and “Poor Boy Blues,” recorded in 1928 by Ramblin’ Thomas.
Although Kubek and King have toured in every state in the U.S., they are more renowned worldwide. They have performed in 29 countries, including places such as London, England; Paris, France; Istanbul, Turkey; and Oslo, Norway. King said, “They know about us everywhere else.”
When asked about their most memorable occasions, King said, “It was the first time we went to Europe to perform in Belgium in the 1990s.” Kubek remarked, “It was when I jammed with B. B. King at his 80th birthday celebration.”
Internationally acclaimed, Kubek and King won the award for “DVD of the Year” at the 2007 Bluestar Awards in Australia for “My Heart’s in Texas.” They have also been nominated three times for the Blues Music Awards―for “Blues Band of the Year” (1995), for “Rock Blues Album of the Year” (2009) and for “Contemporary Blues Album of the Year” (2011).
They recently released their 16th album, “Road Dog’s Life,” which Delta Groove Music launched in September 2013. Guest artists on the tracks include notable musicians such as Kim Wilson, the lead singer for The Fabulous Thunderbirds, who also plays the harmonica. The CD is available in music stores or online at deltagroovemusic.com.
Visit the Web site at smokinjoekubek.com for information on tour dates.