2000, Blind Guru BDR3301

Listen to "Cause of it all" and "Marigot" here, order CD by email

Cause of it all
Long Cold Night
She's A Woman
Image - free
The Last Time

In Crossroads, WNCW, by Armando Bellmas.

Hot Five Pick: South, by the HQ Band

The new CD from Hector Qirko and his band takes you on a musical journey
below the Mason-Dixon line. "South" goes from Mississippi to Miami but
doesn't stop there. The HQ Band goes further south into the Caribbean,
exploring reggae and calypso with an eastern Tennessee vibe. A varied and
talented songwriter, 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.

In 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.

South is Southern, all right, with some electric blues and boogie-funk
pieces like "Fireball" -- but it goes much deeper South than we expect him
to, crossing the Tropic of Cancer to turn up Latin-tinged songs like
"Celina," which is a bright sort of rumba (or is it a mambo?) and
"Long-Cold Night," 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
Weddington, who works out a saxophony take on Van Morrison's "Satisfied."

You might listen to a minute or two of cut #5 before realizing you know
this song well. It's a jazzy version of the Beatle's classic "She's a
Woman," 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 Qirko fans
would recognize, but they might be startled by some aspects of this
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

Play South 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
quarry didn't even guess all these songs were by the same artist. They
thought we'd just found a really cool radio station.

On, by Mike McGuirk.

Blues 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.