Next up in the Weinberg Center’s Tivoli Discovery Series is The Quebe Sisters, a trio of siblings (along with a number of unrelated select touring musicians, of course), specializing in Texas-style fiddle music, set to take the stage at 7:30 p.m. tonight. We recently caught up with one of the sisters, Hulda, to talk about the first song they learned to play together, the possibility of one-day going solo, and what it’s like to be in a band with your immediate family.
You started performing pretty young, though you’ve been at this for quite a while now.
Yeah, being sisters, we all started performing together pretty young. The last five or six years for us, we’ve been super busy and the last two or three years, things have really taken off for us. It’s been cool. It’s been awesome.
You said it’s taken off for you. How do you think you’ve been able to accomplish that?
We have a really good team working with us right now. We have some musicians in our band who have really just settled in. It’s a great group of people that we really connect with. As far as musically, I think this has been the most rewarding era, if you will. We’re in the middle of rehearsal right now and we’re picking tunes to work on.
Did you always know you wanted to do music?
You know, no. How we got started was a little unusual. No one in our family plays music. We started playing because it was something fun to do. Our mom liked the violin as an instrument and thought it would be fun if we wanted to try playing. We went to fiddle contests and heard Texas-style fiddle music, which is kind of a close cousin to bluegrass. We started paying Texas-style fiddling and started competing in contests about a year later. Then, because we were sisters, we would all take lessons at the same time. We didn’t live near our teachers, so we would drive down, all be in one room together and work on music. We all progressed at the same level. Then we started working on arrangements and crafting songs together. Once you do that, you kind of want to go play somewhere (laughs).
Do you remember the first song you guys learned together?
Oh, man. Western Swing was the very first genre that we worked on together when we were kids. We still play it to this day. But the first tune we worked up together … it might be a tie between “Faded Love” or “San Antonio Rose.” Something super traditional and something super Texas.
Was there ever a time when maybe one of you said, “I’d like to play something else outside of the fiddle.” Like, for instance, drums or guitar, or something?
Well, we do dabble in other instruments. It’s not something we currently play on our shows, but I actually just bought myself a little three-quarter strat to play around with in the car. It’s kind of hard to play fiddle when you’re driving down the road, in a car. It’s super loud (laughs). So, yeah. We dabble around on other instruments but nothing on a professional level, if you will.
Being in a band is hard and it might be even tougher if you’re in a band with family members. Do you guys go through tough times?
You know, yes and no. We’re a little unusual as far as “family band” goes because we don’t have our parents on the road with us. Most family bands, Mom or Dad almost always travels with the kids, but with us, it’s just the three of us. Growing up, we traveled with our music mentor and his wife. We’ve learned to appreciate our differences and as we become adults, we realize our differences make us stronger as a unit. So, we try really hard to bring those things out because it makes us unique. Of course, we’re siblings, too, so we do get in our arguments, but we always force ourselves to get through it and get over it. I feel like because I get to work with my sisters, it’s single-handedly made me a better person.
Would any of you want to do a solo project?
We’ve always talked about it. Right now, we’re extremely busy doing the band, but there might be times between albums where it might be cool to do a solo project. Every once in a while we go and do something with other friends, but right now, we do almost everything as a group and we really like that. In the future, though, that’s definitely a possibility.
I saw recently that you were on the Delbert McClinton cruise. How is it going on and playing a cruise like that?
This cruise, we’ve done it two years in a row now and it’s so much fun. It almost doesn’t feel like a gig. You just get on a boat and you eat way too much food. Half the boat is musicians anyways, so you just hang out, talking shop and playing tunes together every once in a while. The audience that Delbert has is really, really fun, so you just kind of end up sitting around and talking to people. It’s a lot of fun — I would recommend anyone go on that cruise, actually (laughs). There’s no band where you’re like, “Ah, I don’t like them.”
You guys have had the opportunity to play with a lot of impressive, legendary names. Do you have any stories you might be able to share regarding any of those people?
In the early years, when we were first starting to play the Grand Ole Opry — and even now, getting to know musicians who have been able to do that their whole lives. The Connie Smiths, the Marty Stuarts, the Ricky Skaggs of the world — you meet them and you work the same festivals and getting to know them as people has been really, really cool. The most successful musicians are successful for a reason. They’re good people, they treat their bandmates really nicely, and that’s been really inspiring — to get to talk to them and pick their brains. I always want to go find the old session players at the Opry and get them to tell me stories. The Leon Rhodes of the world. I go, like, “Leon! Tell me stories about what it was like to be on tour with Earnest Tubb!”. Getting to know these people. Like Merle Haggard. Getting to go on his bus and to have him know who I am, I almost had a panic attack.
Is there an influence that you have that would surprise people to know?
That’s a really good question. Wow. We listen to so much music, it’s crazy. In a lot of ways, I listen to punk music. I blame my husband for that. His favorite band growing up was Talking Heads. I had never listened to punk music, so I was like, “What is this? This is the coolest music ever!” I grew up listened to everything but that. I find that any kind of good music — classic, rock, punk or jazz — if the musicianship is good, there are so many things that you can relate to and draw from into your own music. I’ve been so into Queen for the last six months. I listen to Freddie Mercury and I’m just like, “Ahhh-mazing!”
What’s the rest of the year look like for you guys?
A lot of touring. We’ll be playing a lot on the West Coast. New music is the No. 1 priority this year, so hopefully, we’ll have a new album.
Should we look for it in the fall? Summer?
I don’t know quite yet (laughs). A little too soon to say.