BBS Interview: Kim Wilson with Brian Templeton

By Brian Templeton
January 2010

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A couple of months ago the BBS dispatched Brian Templeton of the Radio Kings to the Reel Blues Fest. The big guy came out with a great conversation with harp great Kim Wilson, who showed much love for New England.

Brian Templeton: What were your memories of Boston?

Kim Wilson: It was the first city outside of Texas the [Fabulous] Thunderbirds ever came to. You know, coming into Cambridge at the Speakeasy on the word of Muddy Waters, it was a readymade audience. We've always had a love affair with New England, but especially Boston because that's where it all started on the road for us and the people have always been fantastic.

BT: I know you have a big connection with the Rhode Island scene, which is not really the Boston scene, it's its own animal down there.

KW: Yeah, you know, the old Roomful [of Blues]…I still do some stuff with Greg Piccolo and Doug James and I was just in the studio working on a project for Duke Robillard.

We have very fond memories of that, opening up…we'd flip flop shows with Roomful. You know, we'd open up, they'd open up…that was really one of the greatest bands ever, that I've ever heard. I couldn't…there was no way I could follow that if I was watching them. That's how good they were. That's how it affected me. I really love that band and it's great to still be able to be connected with those guys in some way.

Actually I just had Doug and Greg playing some shows with the T-Birds down in New York at B.B. King's, and they sat in with us down there at the new Knickerbocker [Cafe]. Every chance I get I use them, because they're still the guys as far as the horn players go. You just can't find it…

BT: Yeah, Piccolo on that tenor...

KW: It's unbelievable, he's just a throwback. But he's got his own voice and he's modern at the same time. That's the kind of people I'm looking for, in every walk of life. In every instrument that I use in either band, I always want somebody with their own voice.

BT: One more question. We spoke on the phone a little while back and I know you have a new band that you love, with buddies of mine the Moellers (Johnny and Jay). Tell me about what's happening with the T-Birds. What's coming up?

KW: Well, we got a new record in the can. I think we're going to add some stuff to it…and we own it so we have the luxury of doing what we want with it, which is nice. There's some really cool stuff on there and I think we're going to add some other stuff now.

If you want to see, there's an [electronic press kit] video on youtube of “Do You Know Who I Am,” which is kind of a political number that really hits home with people. Somebody challenged me to write this thing; it's kind of a soul ballad kind of thing, almost got a little country in it. It's weird the way it's sung, but it's really hitting home with people.

Now I've been listening to the whole CD and I'm ready to add a few things and subtract some others. We want to put our best foot forward here, because the band is very special, you know, great musicians and, like I say, the guys are really really something. They're really special.

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