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The Axe Men: Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King

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).

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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.

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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).

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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.

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