The Fabulous Thunderbirds have been a quintessential American band for over 30 years, and now theyâ€™re bringing their distinctive and powerful sound to Harborfest. The Fabulous Thunderbirds will prepare everyone for the Entergy Nuclear Fireworks Spectacular with a pre-festival set and then follow the fireworks with a second musical set.
Co-founder Kim Wilson, the sole original member, still spearheads the group as it evolves into its newest incarnation.
â€œNot only will Saturday be a special day and night at Harborfest with the addition of The Fabulous Thunderbirds,â€ said Harborfest Executive Director Tom Van Schaack. â€œBut the entire lineup of headliners we have put together I think will make this yearâ€™s festival one to remember.â€
In addition to The Fabulous Thunderbirds on Saturday night, The Little River Band (Thursday), Kansas (Friday), and the Yaâ€™ll American Country Tour featuring Doug Stone (Sunday) highlights the music on the NRG Lakeview Stage at this yearâ€™s Harborfest.
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.
â€œWe started as a straight blues bandâ€, vocalist and harmonica player Wilson says. â€œWe now incorporate a mixture of a lot of different styles. Weâ€™re an American music band and weâ€™re much higher energy than we were before.â€
The thread throughout the T-Birds career has been the respect the group commanded for its peerless musicianship and devotion to the sounds of blues, R & B and rock â€˜n roll. In fact, Muddy Waters called Wilson his favorite harmonica player and vocalist. â€œMuddy Waters was very good to me,â€ Wilson says. â€œHe almost adopted me. Iâ€™ll never forget him.â€
In 1979, The Fabulous Thunderbirds released their first self-titled album. Primarily blues influenced, it became a cult classic. â€œThings were wide open back then,â€ Wilson recalls. â€œThere were hundreds of stages where bands could show what they had.â€
In subsequent releases, the band started to incorporate more Cajun, rock â€˜n roll and soul influences. The album â€œT-Bird Rhythmâ€ marked a creative turning point for the group as it collaborated with noted producer Nick Lowe. In 1986, The Fabulous Thunderbirds reached a commercial peak with the album, â€œTuff Enuffâ€. The single of the same title as well as the singles â€œWrap It Upâ€ and â€œLook At Thatâ€, all went top 40. The song, â€œTuff Enuffâ€ was featured in the film â€œGung Hoâ€ starring Michael Keaton.
For the remainder of the â€™80s, the band continued to record and tour, and released the album, â€œPowerful Stuffâ€. Jimmie Vaughn left in 1989 but Wilson kept the group going, incorporating keyboards into the guitar-driven sound. Kim moved back to California in 1996, continuing to cultivate the T-Birds music.
â€œThe thing about the T-Birds is that we can play both blues festival and rock venues,â€ Wilson comments. â€œWeâ€™re a diversified band now and everybodyâ€™s on the same page.â€
Saturdayâ€™s lineup on the NRG Lakeview Stage in Breitbeck Park prior to The Fabulous Thunderbirds begins at 4 PM with The 42nd Infantry Division Band and The Jody Raffoul Band at 6 PM.
Harborfest 2010, an admission-free festival, is scheduled for July 22-25 in Oswego, NY.