On the Fabulous Thunderbirds second CD, What’s the Word, blues harp player and frontman Kim Wilson is at his most untouchable.
Wilson is as much a student and historian of classic blues as he is one of the top blues harmonica players.
Wilson’s voice is rich and soulful, but let’s talk about his harmonica playing here; it is nothing less than incendiary. One track in particular stands out as a blues harp classic, “Jumpin’ Bad” is a high-octane,
harmonica-fueled instrumental, and was the band’s concert opener for years before this album was released. The song gives Wilson the perfect showcase to show off his talents as a blues harmonica great.
All of the early T-birds albums are definitely worth owning, but What’s the Word is one of the band’s best for its sheer consistency.
Born in Detroit, Michigan on January 6th 1951, Wilson moved to California with his musician parents. After dropping out of college, Wilson began playing blues full-time in 1970; he started gigging constantly to get his harmonica chops together. While playing, he befriended musicians like John Lee Hooker, Charlie Musselwhite, and blues guitarist Sonny Rhodes.
In the mid-’70s Wilson met his mentor, Muddy Waters. Wilson said of the man, “Muddy Waters was my biggest mentor. He really made my reputation for me, and that was a fantastic time of my life, being associated with that man.”
Check out Kim Wilson and the Fabulous Thunderbirds classic “Jumpin’ Bad” below: