I’m a news hound. It drags me down sometimes, especially of late with events in the economy, war and politics. I can use something to pick me up, and something that rarely fails is some low-down Texas blues.
Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King have been labeled a traveling club act by some, but their last two albums have put that notion away once and for all. Blood Brothers is a Texas blues classic, with Smokin’ Joe demonstrating his mastery on the slide guitar better than ever, and Bnois matching him with his smooth, jazzy vocals and complimentary guitar play. After playing together for 17 years, these guys are finally reaching their peak.
Blood Brothers opens with three songs in their upbeat, Texas blues style. Solos by Smokin’ Joe stand out with his powerful rock-based guitar, and Bnois takes the lead guitar on a couple of occasions with his jazzier style. I’m not 100% sure what the “dog” is about in My Dog’s Still Walkin’, but Smokin’ Joe and Bnois are moving along very well here. Stop Drinking is a long, slow tempo cover of the classic by Texas legend Lightnin’ Hopkins, with a switch: Whiskey would be better for you than wine. The album continues with their contrasting styles melding to a creation much richer than the sum of its parts.
I didn’t know what to expect after Blood Brothers, but Have Blues, Will Travel is no letdown, and may be their best yet. The title song starts things jamming with hard guitar and hard luck, with Smokin’ Joe playing a quick beat rhythm and Bnois singing about things unraveling after cheating on his wife. My Space or Yours? is a humorous, technophobic song that probably sums up their feelings about technology. Their website looks like it was created in 1995.
Wishful Thinking hits me very personally. It’s a very smooth and slow tempo song and I’d really like to get a copy of the lyrics. For the whole album for that matter, but Smokin’ Joe and Bnois won’t post their lyrics online. I’ve requested this from Smokin’ Joe, but he doesn’t seem receptive to the idea.