Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page
Robert Hubele is the oldest of eight children, raised in the prairies of southern Alberta, Canada. At 14, he labored at a steel mill and then became a heavy equipment operator. At 21, he wrote his first song.
Robert’s world view is that love and harmony are all. Writing songs and giving concerts are Robert’s focus in life – making a difference in the world through his songwriting and concerts, causing people to see their lives in a new, more harmonious light. And it is not always the big things in life that are the most important. Robert writes about the little things that make a difference.
Robert is entirely self-taught. His love for the blues started with listening to popular music on the radio as a teen. What caught his ear was Eric Burden’s ‘House of the Rising Sun’. He had no idea that it was the blues, but he just had to learn to play that song. His friend Butch, a Redcap and co-worker at the Canadian Pacific Railroad, offered to loan him his electric guitar and amplifier and teach him how to play it.
Robert became fascinated with the earthy beat and emotional impact of the blues. He began listening to and playing along with B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, and Freddie King and Albert King.
Robert’s introduction to jazz was through Chuck Tracy, a hard-core lounge musician and really funny guy who was his roommate for a while. In listening to him rehearse and perform, Robert got turned onto the music of Tom Waits, Mose Allison and Fats Waller. He also listened to Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Benny Goodman and – especially – Cab Calloway and Louis Jordan.
There is also a touch of country in Robert’s music from growing up on the prairies on the fringe of Calgary, where music by Hank Williams, Hank Snow, and Marty Robbins was the background of his life.
Robert’s interest in slide dobro began when he first heard Bonnie Raitt in the early 70s. She had learned to play slide from Mississippi Fred McDowell and Robert just had to learn how to make that ‘slidey’ sound himself. He figured out how to tune his guitar to slide tuning, and made a lot of racket for a couple of years until eventually he got the hang of it.
Robert writes when the song comes to him, about one each month. It takes one-half to two hours to write a song. The best ones often come the fastest. Polishing and learning a song takes a couple of weeks.
Robert and his wife Susan make their home in Vancouver’s beautiful West End on English Bay, near Stanley Park.