More than ‘enuff’
Fabulous Thunderbirds Big Room, Tues., May 31
The Fabulous Thunderbirds is one of the top modern blues bands in terms of historical cred and maintaining a vital current road show. Born out of Austin, Texas, in the mid-'70s with lead singer and harmonica player Kim Wilson and blues guitar ace Jimmie Vaughan (brother of Stevie Ray), the Thunderbirds even notched a couple of top-40 hits. A stellar new line-up delivered the goods big-time to a sold-out room of Big Room blues enthusiasts.
Vaughan left some time ago, but his slot has been expertly filled by guitar aces Nick Curran and Kirk Fletcher. Curran and bass player Ronnie James Weber were all glammed out, but their chops were solid blues rock. Guitarist Fletcher had a Sunday-off-the-farm look in jeans and clean plaid shirt, but when he soloed he was scarier than Curran’s punk looks. Keyboardist Gene Taylor had a genial Burl Ives demeanor but played like a revved up Dr. John.
Front man Wilson kicked off the night with a machine-tight shuffle that had the Mose Allison line “I live the life I love, I love the life I live,” though it was a different song than that. His singing style was without corny vibrato or overwrought fake emotion. I can only call it Austin-strong.
Making sure to get in their hits—"Tuff Enuff” and “Wrap It Up"—the virtuoso line-up concluded with an all-star jam featuring Little Charlie’s Rick Estrin on harp and Bay Area blues luminary Rusty Zinn on guitar. Big and bad to the bone!