Fiddlin’ around

Quebe Sisters’ nostalgic fiddle music at Miami U Hamilton

By Josher Lumpkin

Photo: The Quebe Sisters Band will perform at Miami University’s Parrish Auditorium in
Hamilton on Sept. 27; photo: Bill Stipp

When Hulda Quebe (pronounced Kway-bee) went to a fiddle contest with her sisters Grace and Sophia at the county fair in 1998, she had no idea that what she saw would set her on a path that would change their three lives. Just seven years old at the time, the event was her first brush with vintage country music.

“Our mom had always thought it would be cool for us to take violin lessons, and we had done that for a while, but we weren’t really interested in it,” Quebe recalled. “We had kind of flipped when we heard fiddling at the fiddle contest, and we were like, ‘Aw, this looks really fun!’ and it just seemed like a cool thing to do.”

The three Quebe sisters, Hulda being the youngest, set their sights on learning how to play the old-timey stylings of the fiddlers in the contest. “All three of us played the violin a little bit, so transitioning over to fiddle was kind of a natural thing for us. So, we went and found some teachers and started taking lessons,” Quebe said.

The teachers they found were fiddling power couple Joey and Sherry McKenzie, both former national champions of the Texas-fiddle style, and both widely considered masters of the genre.

“Really, it was kind of just something that was fun for us,” Quebe said. “We competed in a lot of fiddle contests, and as time went by our teachers said, ‘You know what? Y’all should learn to play a song together,’ since we were all progressing at the same rate. We started recording simple fiddle stuff, and just kind of learning to sing together, and working on harmonies and kind of building that repertoire. When you learn something, you want to go and play a gig, and play it for people. So, we got some gigs set up for us, and started playing around town.” And so, the Quebe Sisters Band was born.

The sisters released their first album, the instrumental CD, Texas Fiddlers, in 2003, but success wouldn’t come for another two years.

Quebe explained, “Our band kind of took off in 2005, when we started singing at our shows, after several different people encouraged us to consider vocals as a part of our sound. We were just an instrumental group at the time.

“Singing wasn’t really anything we had even really considered, but I mean, we were really serious about our music at the time, even though we were pretty young. We practiced a lot, and so it was challenging for us, but it was fun. There was definitely a learning curve, but as siblings, we kind of have an unfair advantage when it comes to harmonies, because we naturally pronounce and say things the same way. With three of us, growing up together and doing everything together, we really have the same phrasing and diction and all that.”

Their newly-acquired vocals gave the group a unique, nostalgic sound that would bring them widespread appreciation from vintage country and western swing aficionados worldwide; and the Quebe Sisters Band took their show on the road.

“We’ve toured every single state in the U.S.,” Quebe said. “We’ve toured Canada four or five times. We’ve toured in England, France, Wales, Russia. We’ve been really fortunate, and stay really busy, and we get to do a lot of really cool things with our music. We really love it.”

Talented as they are, the sisters couldn’t do it alone. Their triple fiddle act just wouldn’t be complete without a couple of accompanying musicians, and their band has recently seen an evolution that has turned the Quebe Sisters Band into an all-female ensemble.

“Our band right now is kind of having a transitional year,” Quebe said. “We have two bandmates, twin sisters that are playing with us right now, so we have an all-girl band, which is really fun. I never thought I’d be in a band with all girls.”

The twins are Penny Lea and Katy Lou Clark, of the acoustic bluegrass band The Purple Hulls.

“We’ve been best friends with them for quite a while now,” Quebe said. “We met them when we were in Nashville and the three of us were playing the Grand Ole Opry, and they happened to be there. We met them backstage, and just kind of hit it off, and so every time we would go through Nashville, or play the Opry, we would see them, and then they ended up moving down to Texas around the same time we started looking for new bandmates. And everything just kind of worked out. So, they’ve been with us since January of this year.”

With the three Quebes and the two Clark sisters forming a full house of sibling-created vintage country and western swing power, the Quebe Sisters Band has nowhere to go but up, and they are excited to share their music once again with Ohioans this Saturday at Miami University Hamilton’s Parrish Auditorium as part of the University’s Regional Artist series.

“We’ve played in Ohio before a little bit, and we really liked it,” Quebe gushed. “We really enjoyed going up there, and our audiences are always really great. Yeah, we’ve played this concert series before at Miami University and we really had a great time, so we’re really looking forward to coming back.”

The Quebe Sisters Band with special guest Tim Shelton will perform on Saturday, Sept. 27 at Miami University’s Parrish Auditorium, 1601 University Blvd. in Hamilton. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $25 for adults, $23 for seniors and MU faculty and staff, and $16 for students and youths. For more information, please visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Josher Lumpkin at

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Josher Lumpkin is a nursing student and aspiring historian who enjoys writing about music and geekdom of all kinds. He is especially fond of punk rock, tabletop gaming, sci-fi/fantasy and camping with his wife, Jenner, and their dogs, Katie and Sophie. Reach him at

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