WILKES-BARRE — Perhaps you’ve heard the song lyric that declares “If you’re gonna play in Texas, you’ve gotta have a fiddle in the band.”
The Quebe Sisters happen to be from the Lone Star State — they grew up in a suburb of Fort Worth — and it seems they’ve taken that advice to heart, times three.
Fortunately for their fans — and once you’ve heard Grace, Sophia and Hulda play their fiddles and sing sweet harmonies, you’ll likely count yourself among that group — the Quebes don’t spend all their time in Texas.
Their latest tour will bring them to the River Street Jazz Cafe on Aug. 17 for a concert that will highlight the way they put their own stamp on traditional styles.
“We’re under the umbrella of Americana,” Grace Quebe (it rhymes with “maybe”) said in a telephone interview. “We’re playing traditional styles but not in a nostalgic way. We feel we’re being truest to the style of western swing, which originated in Texas and Oklahoma, where we grew up, but we’re always bringing in new sounds.”
The local concert is likely to include offerings from the sisters’ most recent album, “Every Which-A-Way,” on which they play and sing such tunes as “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Wayfaring Stranger,” “Goin’ Away Party” and “It’s a Sin to Tell A Lie.”
Some of those songs can be traced back to the 1930s or 1940s, but The Quebe Sisters work out their own arrangements — sometimes refining the music as they travel.
“We work on music in the van,” Quebe said. “There’s a lot of arranging you can do on the road.”
“We’ll crack out the instruments and we’ll be very busy,” she said, describing a scene in which everyone takes a turn at the wheel, including her two brothers-in-law, who serve, respectively, as the Quebe Sisters’ guitarist and manager.
“This is a great time in life to be doing this,” she said, describing how the musicians try to take some time to enjoy the country as they travel.
“We try to make the most of any outdoor activities. We’ll do hikes or if we’re near water we’ll go to the beach,” she said. “If we’re in a big city we’ll catch a great show or go to some museums. You can see a lot of great culture.”
For Grace, Sophia and Hulda Quebe, their musical adventure began during the late 1990s, when they were preteens studying classical violin. Their teacher suggested they’d enjoy watching a fiddle competition.
“We thought it looked like fun,” Quebe said, recalling how the girls were intrigued by this less formal way of playing their instruments. “We just switched,” she said.
Soon, the sisters were no longer just spectators at fiddling competitions. They competed as individuals and as a group, winning state and national championships in their age categories in 1999 through 2002.
Among their credits, they’ve shared stages with such music legends as Willie Nelson, George Strait, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Connie Smith, Marty Stuart, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, Riders in the Sky and many others.
“We got to meet Merle Haggard; we opened for him,” Quebe reminisced. “It wasn’t too long after that that he passed away (in 2016). He was just so nice and that night we got to see him perform. It was amazing.”
“Years ago we got to open for Ray Price,” she said, recalling another favorite concert. “He’s just an icon in terms of country music, and we met on my 18th birthday. That was really cool. That was a day to remember.”
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT
IF YOU GO
What: An Evening with The Quebe Sisters
Where: River Street Jazz Cafe, 667 N. River St., Wilkes-Barre
When: 9:30 p.m. Aug. 17. Doors open at 8:30 p.m.
Tickets: $10, $12