By Mario Tarradell
Three women – modern, creative, and talented – are stretching the boundaries of old-time country and western swing music. The best part? They are doing it steadfastly, free of frivolous fanfare. We’re talking about neo-traditionalist western swing trio the Quebe Sisters – siblings Grace, Sophia, and Hulda.
The Quebe Sisters are hardly newcomers, though. Their modern musical sensibilities coalesced as seasoned performers. Dallas-based Grace, Sophia, and Hulda Quebe spent the last 15 years merging three-part harmony and triple fiddles to put a youthful, jubilant spin on Bob Wills’ classic genre. They have recorded four studio albums and toured North America, Europe, and Russia.
The Quebe Sisters are ready to perform western swing classics March 22 at 7pm (doors @ 6:30pm) at Southgate House Revival, 111 E Sixth Street in Newport, KY; Tickets are $25; 18 & over, please. Click here for tickets.
The sisters’ four studio albums – 2003’s Texas Fiddlers, 2007’s Timeless, 2014’s Every Which-A-Way, and 2019’s The Quebe Sisters – serve as sonic proof that these ladies are fearless interpreters and innovators.
There’s certainly no boxing the Quebe Sisters. Grace, Sophia, and Hulda Quebe see western swing as an ocean of possibilities. On 2019’s The Quebe Sisters, for example, the three ladies incorporated originals, instrumentals, and covers into an album that moves freely from traditions on “Load at 7 (Leave at 8)” and “Bluegrass in the Backwoods” to stunning vocal-meets-fiddle exercises “Pierce the Blue,” “Summer of Roses,” and “Lonesome Road.”
“Bob Wills was all about experimentation – melding just about every style he heard,” says Grace Quebe. “He hired the best musicians playing regionally traditional instruments, as well as players interested in experimenting on what were the cutting-edge instruments of the day. This spirit formed what we today call western swing, and it needs to be an ingredient in current iterations of western swing to keep the style fresh and vibrant for the present and future. So, for us it’s authentic to the style to introduce our own originals.”
For these trailblazing women, performing before enthusiastic crowds means the deep, connected roots of country and western swing will be in full display. The Quebe siblings grew up in Texas surrounded by fiddles, bows, microphones, stages, and western swing tunes. Texas is the very reason Grace, Sophia, and Hulda Quebe ended up playing triple fiddle, Grace says. But in true trailblazing fashion, Texas couldn’t contain such immense talent and dedication. The Quebe Sisters took their sound beyond the boundaries of the Lone Star state into North America, Europe, and even Russia.
Grace sees nothing odd about their progressive brand of western swing connecting with foreign audiences. “Nostalgia and curiosity play some role,” she says, “but particularly the syncopation and dance elements of the music we love and play make it timeless and universal. Everyone resonates with music that has a good feel. If it uplifts you and makes you want to dance, then we are doing our job right.”
Modern, creative, and talented women that stretch the boundaries of country and western swing music become beacons. They light the path taking audiences on a trip to the past while keeping them firmly in the present and giving them a glimpse into the future.
“I think our central ambition in playing music is to touch people’s hearts and souls—to make them feel beauty, to make them hear colors, to make them forget worries and have fun, to make them think about God,” says Hulda Quebe. “There is no time in history or culture that doesn’t need music in this way!”
For more information and tour dates, please visit www.quebesisters.com