Don't call The Quebe Sisters a throwback band. Sure, while listening to their new self-titled album (out Sept. 20) you'll feel like you've been transported to the old dancehalls of the Texas Hill Country where Bob Wills once commanded a crowd with his fiddle and a "ah-ha!" holler. But the Dallas, Texas-based trio, made up of real life sisters Hulda, Grace and Sophia Quebe, is every bit as modern as they are steeped in tradition.
"We're not the kind of band that just wants to be a nostalgic throwback band," Hulda Quebe tells Wide Open Country. "We're not just trying to play the hit parade. We're really trying to do something different but still at the same time sound like a Western swing band."
Featuring triple fiddles, archtop guitar, upright bass and angelic three-part harmonies, the trio is one of the few current Western swing bands to not have a drummer. But make no mistake, by making their own rules with their brand of Progressive Western swing, the sisters are simply following the lead of the King of Western swing himself, Bob Wills.
"A lot of people nowadays don't realize that [Wills pushed boundaries]. He was the first person to bring drums on the Grand Ole Opry," Quebe says. "For us, we were like 'Hey, actually the whole point of this genre is to just do whatever you want."
Though the trio has been performing for 15 years now (they made their debut on the Grand Ole Opry as teenagers), their new album represents a coming of age release.
"We really wanted to do things different really inclusive with the whole band," Quebe says. "We'd never sat down and fully arranged everything as a whole band and so for us doing it that way was really fun. We decided [to make it] self-titled just because we really felt that it was a new direction and a new sound for us. We have originals on the new album, which is something we'd never done before."
Among those originals is the bewitching "Pierce the Blue," inspired by the sisters' childhood and their enduring bond.
And while those three part harmonies sound as natural as a Texas sunset, Hulda Quebe says it took a country and bluegrass superstar to convince the sisters to add vocals to the group.
"[Ricky Skaggs] said 'Hey, you girls need to open your mouths and sing.' We all were like, 'No, that's not going to happen,'" Quebe says. "We thought about it afterwards and said 'You know, there aren't a ton of super successful instrumental bands. Ok sure, we'll try this singing thing.'"
Drawing inspiration from The Mills Brothers, Ray Price, Count Basie and more, The Quebe Sisters honor the roots of Western swing while introducing the genre to a new generation.
"We really love the feeling of Western swing -- it's kind of a melting pot of a lot of American south. It was elements of swing, it has elements of jazz, it has country in it," Quebe says. "Western swing originated in the South so you have a lot of different genres that influence it. So we spent a lot of time going back to our roots and really listening to recordings and songs that captured (the feeling of' 'Man, this really makes me want to get up and dance.'"
For more information on The Quebe Sisters, visit their official website.