Kim Wilson and the Fabulous Thunderbirds have been creating blues-influenced rock ‘n’ roll for more than four decades.
The band’s legacy, which includes massive ‘80s hits “Tuff Enuff” and “Wrap It Up,” has always been a work in progress as musicians come and go and musical – and commercial – tastes change. But Wilson has never been as excited for the group as he is now, writing a new chapter with a new lineup debuting next week at Fanatics Pub, 7281 West Main St., Lima.
“I’ve been around the block many times. I’ve had many different incarnations of this band and I’m ready to do the ideal situation, which is what this new lineup is going to be,” Wilson said in a telephone interview from his home in California.
The new group brings Wilson’s longrunning side project, The Blues All-Stars, where he explored more traditional blues, into the Fabulous Thunderbirds, which blends blues, rhythm & blues, soul and rock ‘n’ roll.
“It’s a bit more traditional,” Wilson said of the latest iteration of the Fabulous Thunderbirds. “There will be some rock and roll. There will be, of course, a couple of the hits, being played because people want to hear that...”
But there will also be songs by such artists as Little Milton, B.B. King, Junior Parker, Bobby “Blue” Bland and other legends.
The new Fabulous Thunderbirds lineup includes guitarist Dean Shot, keyboardist Carl Sonny Leland, saxophonist Jerry Weldon, drummer Rudy Petschauer, and others – all with their own pedigrees and according to Wilson, “all badass musicians.”
“They’re basically journeymen expert musicians. You’re a journeyman your whole life. You know, once you think you’ve got it and you don’t need to learn anymore, you’re done,” Wilson said. “And I think that all these guys, they have a love of the music.
“On paper, it looks incredible. And it looks like it’s going to be an extremely fantastic band, being able to do modern and traditional,” he continued. “Of course, my idea of modern and your idea of modern might be two different things.”
Wilson has performed with the likes of Muddy Waters, Eddie Taylor, B.B. King and Jimmy Rodgers.
“I’m a blues and R&B and rock and roll guy, you know. And that’s where I live; that I love,” he said.
With the Blues All Stars, Wilson and his harmonica would be heard on such traditional blues songs as “It Takes Time” or the slow burnin’ “Nineteen Years Old.” There was boogie-woogie piano on “My Babe” and jazz influences on “Damn Right I Got the Blues.”
“I used to have to go out have play with the Blues All Stars. I won’t have to do that anymore because I’ll have it all in one house,” Wilson said.
“With all these players it’s no holds barred. I mean, you can do anything you want with these guys and it’s up to me to guide them,” Wilson said. “I’m not a guy standing if front of a bunch of lackeys, just backing me up in the shadows. I want everybody to be a focal point of this band ... and everybody’s got to be a badass.”
If you go
WHAT: Kim Wilson and the Fabulous Thunderbirds, in concert.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Nov. 15 and 16.
WHERE: Fanatics Pub, 7281 West Main St., Lima.
TICKETS: The show has sold out.