The Quebe Sisters Band at IBMA

The Quebe SistersOne of the surprise hits at IBMA last month was The Quebe Sisters Band (pronounced kway-bee). I had not seen them prior to IBMA, though the buzz about their highly entertaining shows had reached my ear. These three talented young ladies (Grace, Sophia and Hulda) from Fort Worth, TX specialize in classic Texas swing, and their presentation is dead-on perfect.

Not only do the sisters sing together in close three part harmony – eerily reminiscent of the Andrews Sisters – they complement their vocals with equally precise triple fiddles. Accompanied only by sock-rhythm guitar and an upright bass, their music is compelling, and to serious fans of this vintage slice of American music, a pure delight.

The Quebe Sisters Band have been performing together since 2000 with Drew Phelps on bass and Joey McKenzie on guitar. The Quebes met Joey through his music school (McKenzies’ Music and Instructional Studio) in Mansfield, TX, where they studied fiddle as very young girls. A spot on the 2008 Smithsonian Folklife Festival brought the Quebes to a national audience, which led to guest spots on The Marty Stuart Show, The Grand Ole Opry and the Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree.

We spoke recently with Sherry McKenzie, who manages the studio with her husband, and also handles publicity for the band. They were extremely well-received at IBMA, but I was curious whether the positive reaction was converting to new opportunities for the band.

“We have received inquires and have been following up on these as well as getting in touch with contacts made during the week. It looks like the band will have the opportunity play a few states in 2010 that they have never been to before, as a direct result of IBMA.

As far as expanding our fan base, we gave away many CDs for radio airplay, and have had orders trickling in each week from folks who are hearing the QSB on their local bluegrass & Americana radio programs. We have had interest as well from people who didn’t attend IBMA, but have discovered the group by the official showcase videos that have made their way to YouTube.”

As we have asked a number of the official IBMA showcase acts, Sherry was asked whether the trip to Nashville was worth the trouble and expense.

The Quebe Sisters at The Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2008 - photo be Christopher Levy (Flickr)“I definitely feel the benefits were worth the expense. And worth the lack of sleep too!! The crash course for new artists, mentor sessions, gig fair and seminars were invaluable and we all came home with useful information to apply to our business. We tried to map out our week ahead of time and plan what sessions to attend each day, in addition to setting up meetings. Although it was a fun week with jam sessions, attending showcases, meeting new friends and connecting with old friends, we tried to keep a balance of both entertainment and business.

Everyone enjoyed spending time in the exhibit hall visiting the booths. The week could have been much, much more expensive than it was, as Joey prowled around the exhibit hall all week long looking for just the right mandolin!

I would encourage other artists to attend IBMA at least one time to see if it is a good fit for them. Although the QSB is new on the scene, the bluegrass community was very welcoming and encouraging. From a business standpoint, it was extremely educational with information we can use all year long. Musically speaking, it was very inspiring!

We don’t have the opportunity to hear much bluegrass at live shows or festivals where we live in Texas, so it was great to finally meet and hear many of the people we admire but have only heard on recordings or the radio. We heard so many great bands and musicians, we were all very impressed and inspired. We were excited to be part of such a first-class event.”

The Quebe Sisters Band will be back in Nashville in Decmber, with appearances at The Station Inn, Music City Roots and The Opry. They will also tape another set for The Marty Stuart Show, and visit with Eddie Stubbs at WSM. A new album is also in the works.

Is there room for classic Texas Swing in the world of country, bluegrass and Americana music? If so, The Quebe Sisters Band have a bright future indeed.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.