Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King are a blues band with two lead guitars. In the hyperactive world that is guitar-fronting, twin leads requires checked egos and dissimilar performance styles. Bnois (pronounced Buh-noise) King, from Monroe, Louisiana, is 69. One of ten children, he discovered his grandmother’s six-string around the age of eight. At church he met a guitarist named Blind James, who gave the boy a valuable lesson: how to tune his guitar.
King’s style has been called jazzy by some, and why not? His high school band-class teacher was a pianist and alto sax man named James Moody. Moody, who died in 2010, retired and lived out his last days in San Diego. King told a reporter that Moody gave him his first paying gig as a musician: to hold (but not play) his guitar onstage during a band concert at Grambling State University (Louisiana).
Smokin’ Joe Kubek, born in Pennsylvania and raised in Texas, is 56. His bio says he was playing Dallas clubs at the age of 14 — which is possibly a stretch of the imagination — but by the age of 20 he was playing rhythm guitar behind Freddie King. This would prove to be Kubek’s career high-water mark. He met Bnois King at a jam in 1989, and soon after their career paths merged. Together they released a CD of covers called The Axe Man.
The contrast between King’s Texas juke soul and Kubek’s flame-throwing got them a record deal. They are now touring behind their 2010 Alligator Records release Have Blues Will Travel, a collection of tracks for seedy types victimized by their bad choices: “Out on the town with my girlfriend/ Havin’ the time of my life/ I looked up at the door/ And there stood my wife.” Blues fans, there is nothing new here. But sometimes it’s pleasure enough just to visit the old sounds.
SMOKIN’ JOE KUBEK AND BNOIS KING: Anthology, Sunday, April 1, 7 p.m. 619-595-0300.