The inaugural Alive at Five concert of the summer season got off to a mighty soggy start, and despite the best efforts of the concerts series organizers to try to get the show in before the sky opened up – the T-Birds took the stage 20 minutes earlier than the usual headliners’ start time – the blues fans in Albany’s Riverfront Park got soaked with a never hard nor heavy, but always steady rain from the moment frontman Kim Wilson launched the band into the opening “Wait On Time” straight through to the show-closing encore of “I Want to Believe.”
Wilson and his current incarnation of the T-Birds focused on tunes from their latest album, “On the Verge,” marking a distinct shift away from the blues and venturing into a deep soul groove that balanced equal influences from Memphis and Muscle Shoals. “Lovin’ Time,” “Runnin’ From the Blues” and the slinky slow grind of “Lonely Highway” emerged as some of the new album’s most potent selections, and the crowd roared with delight during the latter when Wilson moaned the lyric, “It’s a lonely stretch of highway, and the rain is pouring down…”
As the Fabulous Thunderbirds’ founder Kim Wilson ages, he changes his perspective on where he takes chances and where he plays it safe. On one hand, he gave up drinking 25 years ago and is on a healthy diet that’s caused him to lose 35 pounds in the last several months. On the other hand, he says he will undoubtedly call out some songs at Thursday’s Alive at Five concert (June 6) that his band has never played before.
“It’s not like you’re pushed down the expert slope, you’re just starting and you’re gonna kill yourself,” he says, paying respects to himself and his band for their decades of experience. “It’s all about being
comfortable in your own skin, (but) it’s also all about just making it exciting.”
For Kim, it basically boils down to a realization at age 62 that life is precious, and that the value of what he’s learned in 39 years as the founding bandleader of the T-Birds is that it’s worth taking extra care of yourself to be able to experience the thrill of creativity hammered out in a job – he refuses to call it a career – that is more fun than living life as if it were a bungee jump, as so many artists do. “In ’88 I stopped drinking. That really helped me get on this thing where I really started learning stuff,” he says.
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