Listening to the Quebe Sisters play the western swing music pioneered by Wills in the 1930s and l940s, you realize they are special musicians who love what they’re doing.
Grace, 19, Sophia, 18, and Hulda, 15, went to a fiddling contest near their Burleson home six years ago and decided they wanted to play the fiddle, too.
THEIR MOTHER convinced veteran Texas musician Joey McKenzie to teach her daughters. “They were naturals and they fell in love with traditional Texas fiddle music,” said McKenzie, who with bass player Mark Abbott, accompanies them on guitar at performances throughout the country.
In those six short years, the Quebe Sisters have captivated audiences. They have been crowned Texas fiddling champions, played at the Grand Ole Opry, toured with Alison Krauss and Ricky Skaggs, performed before Duchess of York Sara Ferguson, and chalked up dozens of impressive credentials in music.
THE SISTERS’ popularity has taken them to places few teenagers ever go — venues such as the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, the National Folk Festival in Bangor, Maine, the Michael Martin Murphy Christmas Ball in Oklahoma City, the Cowboy Hall of Fame, also in Oklahoma, and country music capital Nashville, Tennessee.
Perhaps the gig they enjoyed the most was “A Ride With Bob,” when they played with Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Wills’ birthday.
The Bob Willis music the sisters play so well was the creation of a Kosse-born farmboy who learned to play fiddle from his father and grandfather.
IN 1929 he organized the Light Crust Doughboys and played for future Governor W. Lee (Pappy) O’Daniel during his campaigns Later, Wills organized his Texas Playboys and San Antonio Rose made him a national figure in popular music in 1940. Wills died in 1975 after suffering a series of strokes.
Country music fans have embraced the Quebe girls with a passion usually reserved for Wills himself, but with good reason. The unique multiple-fiddle renditions sound remarkably like Wills’ own music.
The Quebe Sisters will be performing Saturday night, Dec. 12, at Lovelady’s old Gym — one of East Texas’ best country music venues.
(Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of 40 books about East Texas. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com)