OPERA HOUSE HOSTS THUNDERBIRDS NEW YEARS EVE
Two down, one to go, so GO BIG. Telluride goes for broke on New Years Eve with special dinners at restaurants around town and in Mountain Village. And here’s the really good news: it’s quite possible to have your cake and rock it too.
You might start out at the Ah Haa School for the Arts. The non-profit is hosting its annual, elegant sit-down dinner, which ends around 10. That is just the right time to head over to the historic Sheridan Opera House, where the evening’s entertainment are two blues rock bands: The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Canned Heat.
The Fabulous Thunderbirds are shining examples of Texas roadhouse electric blues.
Texas blues traces its roots back to African Americans who worked the oilfields, ranches and lumber camps in the early 1900s. From there, we can connect the dots between the leading disciples of the genre: Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lightnin’ Hopkins and T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton, Johnnny Copeland, Albert Collins, and Freddie King (who influenced Eric Clapton).
In the late 1960s/early 1970s, the Texas electric blues scene strengthened the muscles in its legs when it hunkered down in Austin, influenced now by country and blues-rock sounds. In that era, the stand-out artists were Johnny and Edgar Winter. In 1974, guitarist Jimmie Vaughan (Stevie Ray’s brother) formed The Fabulous Thunderbirds with frontman, Kim Wilson, a master of rude and crude harp playing. The next generation of blues great took off like a rocket, with none other than Muddy Waters promoting Wilson’s prodigious talent. (Waters famously described Wilson as his “favorite” harmonica player and vocalist.)
Kim Wilson is the sole original member of the group scheduled to appear at the Opera House. In addition to Wilson, the current Thunderbirds line-up features Jay Moeller on drums, Johnny Moeller and Mike Keller on guitar, and Randy Bermudes on bass. The group’s sound is a mash-up of blues, R & B, rock ‘n roll, Cajun, and soul.
Wilson’s musical journey started in Goleta, California. He picked up the harp and began singing at age 17. Early influences included Little Walter, George “Harmonica” Smith, B.B. King, Otis Rush – and Muddy Waters. In search of like-minded musicians who shared his love of the blues, Wilson moved to Minneapolis, then on to Austin, where he hooked up with Vaughan. The rest is rock history.
In 1979, The Fabulous Thunderbirds released their first self-titled album. Primarily blues influenced, it became a cult classic. In 1986, the group peaked commercially with the album, “Tuff Enuff.”
Doors on New Years Eve are at 9 p.m. A dj entertains until the bands fire up at 10 p.m.
To learn more about the Fabulous Thunderbirds and preview the New Year’s Eve show, click the “play” button and listen to my interview with Kim Wilson.
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