Hector Qirko brings the blues to Asheville

Asheville Citizen-Times/Take 5

Laura Blackley • published October 9, 2009

There's blues, and then there's Hector Qirko's blues. The Knoxville guitar slinger/vocalist and his band take the blues, add a little spit-shine, some Latin, jazz, and rock and roll influences, and blend them all together for a sound that is altogether unique, yet never loses sight of its origins. The band returns to Asheville Friday for a 9:30p.m. show at Jack of the Wood. take5 caught up with Hector Qirko recently.

Question: You've had the same personnel in your band for almost 25 years. Who's playing with you?

Answer: We're proud to have been together as a band since 1985. Next year will be our quarter century mark. Let's see, we're Hector Qirko, guitar and vocals: Dirk Weddington, sax; Jim Williams, bass; Steve Brown, drums.

Q: How would you categorize your approach to blues music?

A: What's influenced me the most and what I play the most is based on Chicago electric blues. Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. I love a powerful electric guitar (even though I put out an acoustic record and went in a bit of a different direction). I'm not a traditionalist, though. I feel like the blues is a living style of music. I'd call it a liberal sensibility of the blues. It's important to incorporate that sensibility into what's going on (in music) today.

Q: You're an anthropologist as your day job. How does this affect what you do musically?

A: I teach half-time anthropology at the University of Tennessee. I don't work on music much anthropologically; I keep them separated. When I first decided to go back to school and study anthropology, I was afraid that doing something like that would interfere with what I was trying to do with music. But it's been quite the opposite. Doing both things in terms of creativity really feed each other.

Q: Any plans for a new HQ Band recording anytime soon?

A: I've just gotten all the tunes together for another record, and have been talking to some recording studios here in town. I think we want to do it here in Knoxville. It's going to be a long way off, but I can tell from the material I've written that (the new recording) will be our going back to exploring some more Latin styles. I felt like we had a chance to do more of the intimate blues on our last record (“Old School”), but the new stuff looks to be more instrumental-based.

Q: Your band's bio materials stress the band's longevity, loyalty and friendship. What role have these things played in the music that you make together?

A: It's definitely a family thing in that we know each other so well and have spent so many years together. That definitely impacts everything. I think we're playing better now than we ever have; I think the rest of the band thinks so, too. We're not slick, but we're tight. Everybody's creative in different directions, and they bring that to the band.

Laura Blackley writes about music for take5. E-mail her at laurablackleyband@yahoo.com.