Saturday, May 12, 2018

Big Wu Comin' To Town

OK, tell me what you see. Yes, it's a snappy, lime-colored logo. 
Besides the name of the band the springtime colors
bespeak good times and ivy vines, loose lines splayed and flowing.

And here's another one. Exploding with energy. Pow. Bam. Wham.

So Who is the Big Wu?

The Big Wu is a rock jam band from Minnesota composed of Al Oikari, Andy Miller, Chris Castino, Mark Joseph Grundhoefer, and Terry VanDeWalker. The band made its mark on the jam band scene with a reputation for hook-oriented songwriting and was one of the earliest jam bands from the Midwest to achieve some national success. Relentless touring in the late 1990s and early 2000s built a loyal fan base that calls themselves "family," many of whom get together for the band's recurring music festival, the Big Wu Family Reunion. From 1998-2006, the band annually held the Family Reunion on Memorial Weekend, frequently holding a Wu Years Eve event on December 31. The band has not toured extensively since the end of 2006, instead playing periodic shows here in Minnesota and other nearby states.

For this year's Duluth Dylan Fest, the Armory Arts and Music Center (AAMC) was looking to once again kick off the weeklong fest with a big concert. The idea of a Traveling Wilburys tribute came up, so they called on The Big Wu. As the Wu were in the middle of recording a new album, they felt that learning the Wilbury's set list would be a challenge in such short order. Since they already know plenty of the Dylan catalogue so they were given the nod.

Advance tickets are only $15 for this high energy show that will be here on Sunday, May 20. Big Wu influences include Dylan, George Harrison and other familiar names. I am personally hoping Duluth will give them a warm welcome because, frankly, I'd like to have them come back next year and do that Traveling Wilburys set that was discussed.

The Sports Garden is a perfect venue for a concert of this caliber. Doors open at 5:00 p.m. with the opening act, Born Too Late (from the Music Resource Center) taking the stage at 6:30. VIP seating is available for those desirous to support the Historic Armory in its continued quest to be a vital space in the community once again.

NELSON FRENCH of the Armory Arts Board sent this blurb to help you make a decision if your mind is sitting on the fence:
The musical influences that helped create the Big Wu were loud, large and heartfelt. Over the past seven years, this Minnesota troupe has stepped into the role of creating the type of music that wants to course through your veins. Writing in truly American styles, the Big Wu slides, bends, rumbles, and chicken-picks with on-the-top intensity and good-time fervor. So boys bring your girls, parents bring your kids, therapists bring your patients. Let the Big Wu loosen the straps of your daily burden with real vibrations.

Big Wu 25th Anniversary Show on First Avenue

For what it's worth, rumor has it that someone is knocking on Heaven's Door to acquire a couple bottles of Bob Dylan's newly released American distilled whiskey. Wouldn't it be great if there were samples available? I will keep you posted. (Or is that only for the VIPs, Nelson?)

Notes from the BIG WU WIKI
The Big Wu was founded in 1992 at St. Olaf College by students Chris Castino (guitar), Terry VanDeWalker (vocals), and Jason Fladager (guitar). Andrew Eklund (bass; now owns Ciceron, Inc.), Nathan Eklund (Keyboards; now with Kubla Khan), Chip House (drums, now a VP with ExactTarget) made up the rest of the regular lineup. Julie Crumrine (vocals) and Julie Niksitch (vocals) made frequent appearances.
While net surfing I found these lines written by Big Wu guitarist Chris Castino. 

I can close my eyes and see the streets of a thousand towns
Greenville, neenah, portland, sparks
I see the package stores, bait shops, strip clubs, row houses
I hear them sing over the rattle of the chain stores,
The rat racers strung out on status,
The Hipsters just day-sleep like cats.
The world can spin you dizzy
But I keep it in the eye of a needle
and my songs are the salty drops from the oceans
by which we came.
Anywhere is where we are.
Even when I’m safe at home
I hear the same faint-familiar song
and try to work it through my old guitar.
Chris Castino / March 26, 2016 

TICKETS HERE at Eventbrite or at Electric Fetus
$15 in advance or $20 at the door.

1 comment:

French Family Blog said...

Thanks for putting this together Ed. This will be a wonderful show and a wonderful way to head into a full week of celebrating Bob Dylan's 77th birthday.

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