A chat with Fabulous Thunderbirds frontman Kim Wilson prior to the band’s appearance in Atlantic City as part of the Mardi Gras on the Boardwalk series on July 11
Kim Wilson may not be a household name, but that depends where you call home.
In the home of the late blues icon Muddy Waters, for example — in his latter years — Wilson, now 60, was treated like a son. The Detroit-born Wilson befriended the elder statesman of the blues in the mid-1970s at the legendary club Antone’s — in Austin, Texas — and from there, Wilson’s career path was set. A founding member of the influential Texas-based band the Fabulous Thunderbirds, which during the early days of MTV had two smash videos — and chart hits — with the songs “Tuff Enuff” and “Wrap it Up,” Wilson has, over the course of his more than four decades in music, worked with an array of musicians (and filmmakers) including Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Raphael Saadiq, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Kid Rock, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Vaughan, and many others.
Over the past decade or so, the songwriter, singer, harmonica player and self-professed music-gear fanatic has received a slew of accolades, chart hits, awards and nominations — breathing a new life into his “still evolving” music career.
Along with multiple Blues Music Awards and Grammy nominations, in 2008, the Blues Foundation honored Wilson by naming him the “instrumentalist of the year” in the harmonica category. Two years earlier, Wilson was named “Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year.” In 2004, the title track from Wilson’s acclaimed solo effort Lookin’ for Trouble was named “Blues Song of the Year” and reached the No. 11 spot on Billboard’s Blues Music Album charts.
Wilson, with his 21st century Fabulous Thunderbirds line-up of Jay Moeller (drums), Johnny Moeller (guitar), Mike Keller (guitar) and Randy Bermudes (bass) — along with Wilson’s vocals and harmonica playing — in tow, is currently on the road, playing dozens of dates throughout the summer, including a seaside gig Monday, July 11, a free concert on the Atlantic City Boardwalk (at Kennedy Plaza) as part of the Mardi Gras on the Boardwalk series. The western Pennsylvania party band Jill West & Blues Attack kicks off the blues, rock and Texas Roadhouse program at 6:30pm.
Atlantic City Weekly reached Wilson at his Texas home in late June by phone.
You guys are on the road all July into August. Are you on the road every year?
Of course, it’s a job. The playing part is not a job, but the rest of it is a job. I’d like to say career and I do think [it’s a] career a little bit, but really it’s a job. It’s not one of those things where a lot of these guys and big acts go out for three months and then they take two years off. I don’t know, if you’re a player, how you could do that. I don’t understand that concept at all. I think the secret is keep working at it. You’re always trying to hone your craft. And it’s fun. The playing part is fun. The travel can be brutal of course.
The Fabulous Thunderbirds have been working on a new record?
Yeah, we’re still in the process. There are a lot of other cool things going on that I can’t really talk about right now. My options are opening up a little bit. In terms of recording, I’ve got a lot of sessions I’ve done this year and I’ve got more in the works. I was on [Eric] Clapton’s record this year. I was on Kid Rock’s record this year. And I just got through doing Austin City Limits with Raphael Saadiq. It was interesting, very cool. I really have a lot of respect for that guy. He’s everything you want. He’s old-school and modern at the same time, which is pretty cool.
Regular contributors like the Bay-Atlantic Symphony, presenting five programs, and the Atlantic City Ballet with its Nutcracker and Dracula presentations, are back for the new season.
"As far as the new stuff goes, the new stuff is definitely very, I don’t know, I would probably say it’s our most aggressive stuff to date. As far as a full collection of songs that we have so far, we’ve probably got about 10 songs for the next album, and then, yeah, it’s definitely not leaning towards the acoustic sound at all. "
Although his last batch of albums -- beginning with 1991's Grammy-winning Damn Right, I Have The Blues (Silvertone) -- has earned the iconic bluesman glowing reviews, multiple awards and a broader fa...
What's That? Find out here. Harrah's Showboat Casino will have blues in the night, blues in the afternoon and blues on the beach and Boardwalk starting July 4th weekend. Last week, House of Blues board member Dan Aykroyd, joined by Harrah's executives and city and state officials, announced plans to turn a major section of the Showboat into a House of Blues nightclub, restaurant and music hall. This marriage of the Mardi Gras casino and HOB will include a House of Blues Casino and poker room, a beach bar, lounge, and a private membership club. It will be the largest House of Blues in the nation. "The House of Blues is the coolest brand in America and to marry it with Harrah's Showboat Mardi Gras theme is perfect because House of Blues is based on Louisiana's southern cooking and culture," said Aykroyd. The Blues Brother added that the HOB presents diverse music, not just blues, R&B and rock, but gospel, disco, Latin, rap and hip-hop. "The goal is not to be just a regional market for South Jersey, metropolitan New York and Philadelphia. We want to make Atlantic City a world destination." CEO of Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., Tim Wilmott,...
Fabulous Thunderbirds with Kim Wilson perform July 11 for free in the summer Monday night music series at Kennedy Plaza.
Neville Brother Cyril Neville comes to Ventnor this Saturday, Feb. 27 for a special Mardi Gras celebration and fundraiser for Access One. He spoke recently to Atlantic City Weekly.
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