In Crossroads, WNCW,
by Armando Bellmas.
Hot Five Pick: South, by the HQ Band
new CD from Hector Qirko and his band takes you on a musical journey
the Mason-Dixon line. "South" goes from Mississippi to Miami but
doesn't stop there. The HQ Band goes further south into the Caribbean,
reggae and calypso with an eastern Tennessee vibe. A varied and
Qirko also covers Van Morrison, The Beatles and
Knoxville's own R.B. Morris
(with whom Qirko performs on a regular
Approaching his music
from several angles, Qirko proves he's a fine
guitar player as well. The HQ
Band's "South" is kind of like listening to
an old Ry Cooder album.
You never know where he'll take you next musically,
yet you anticipate every
tune and relish in its playfulness as you listen.
Metro Pulse, by Jack Neely.
We figure Hector Qirko's tired of hearing people mispronounce his name;
this local blues stalwart's new CD is coming out under the title HQ Band.
It's called, simply, South.
Qirko, a standout guitarist known for his
deft touch, has been playing his
jazz-inflected blues in nightclubs for more
than 20 years, and is also
known as the leader of RB Morris' local band, the
Irregulars. (His work
graces Morris' most recent CD, Zeke and the Wheel.)
Overall, South is a
strikingly diverse showcase of instrumental talent, but
most of the songs
feature Qirko's plaintive vocals, too.
Southern, all right, with some electric blues and boogie-funk
"Fireball" -- but it goes much deeper South than we expect him
crossing the Tropic of Cancer to turn up Latin-tinged songs like
which is a bright sort of rumba (or is it a mambo?) and
a reggae/ska dancer with women's voices.
Qirko has South American roots,
and he's bringing them forward as never
before; about half the songs on the
CD have some Latin flair. "Cause of it
All" is windshield-wiper
electric blues, with horns that add a Cuban tinge.
Qirko's guitar is
prominent on each cut, of course, but there's also a good
deal of brass in
here, thanks mostly to well-known sax-man/clarinetist Dirk
works out a saxophony take on Van Morrison's "Satisfied."
might listen to a minute or two of cut #5 before realizing you know
well. It's a jazzy version of the Beatle's classic "She's a
with a vaguely Latin finish and chiming guitars.
Qirko wrote most of
the songs on this CD, but one of the covers we're
especially grateful for
is "(Listen to me) Louise," one of R.B. Morris'
catchiest -- and
funniest -- songs, about a lover whose suspicions are
aroused by telltale
signs: "I heard that backdoor screen....Hell, he ain't
fixing no washing
machine." The song is also one of Morris' older ones,
though he rarely
plays it anymore, and it has not appeared on any of his
four albums. Until
Qirko rendered it for this CD, it had never appeared on
a commercial recording.
Qirko's signature instrumental "Image-Free" is one song longtime
would recognize, but they might be startled by some aspects of
version, supplemented by scat singing, apparently by Weddington. Local
legend Terry Hill helps out on guitar.
The CD closes with "The Last
Time," a slow, urban blues with cat-foot bass.
It's the piece David Lynch
will use when he does his inevitable Knoxville
for someone who knows Qirko's live shows, just to see how long
it takes them
to guess who's playing. We tried that, and the unsuspecting
even guess all these songs were by the same artist. They
thought we'd just
found a really cool radio station.
by Mike McGuirk.
and Funk hybrid with a grinding appeal and pop-catchy confidence rarely encountered
in modern mainstream blues. Traditionally structured songs are slicked-up and
fully warped, the rhythms are skewered with inescapable Latino, Funk, even Ska-flavored
touches and a big fat horn section handily bottoms things out. It's almost as
if the Meters are backing Mark Sandman's bass and sax attack with D.Boon on vocals.
Half those people are dead, but this music definitely isn't.
In the Knoxville News-Sentinel, by Wayne Bledsoe.
The Hector Qirko Band has never managed to make the jump to a major label. However, the band has released two fine discs of local blues. "South," the group's third CD (and the first under the shortened moniker HQ Band) takes the group from its normal blues into Latin pop and all-out jazz. The players, Qirko (guitar/vocals), Jim Williams (bass), Dirk Weddington (saxophones, clarinets) and Steve Brown (drums, percussion), shine throughout the set, with Qirko and Weddington trading off instrumental leads while Williams and Brown keep the background solid and interesting.
The disc's opener "Marigot" sets the tone with Qirko's sensitive picking and the rest of the band's smooth and soulful playing to a Latin rhythm.
"South" includes several surprises including a bossa nova take on The Beatles' "She's a Woman," an inspired version of Van Morrison's "Satisfied" and a rendition of R. B. Morris' "Louise," a likable tale of a no-good lover.
Vocally, moving away from strict blues and R&B numbers is the best move the band has ever made.
Qirko's nice-guy voice lacks the grit and emotion needed to make his blues believable, but it's a fine vehicle for most of these numbers.
The group also often enlists vocalist Micol Davis and organist Stan Williamson to flesh out the group's sound. And stepping out from his normal role, Weddington offers some Captain Beefheart-esque grunts and yelps along with his sax playing on the raucous "Image-free."
The HQ band hasn't completely discarded blues. Howlin' Wolf's "Cause of It All" is included, and the Qirko originals have a bluesy feel.
But "South" is a laudable expedition into new territory.