WAUKESHA - Could the
blues be performed by a happier band? Since 2010, Blind Dog Hopkins has
combined musicianship and a fun attitude to rock venues in southeastern
Bob Spatz is a
vocalist and guitarist of more than 40 years who performed in Chicago
venues before relocating to Wisconsin in 2007. Spatz recollected the first
Blind Dog Hopkins gig.
“Our first real gig
was at an event called the Ride to End Dog Fighting held at Milwaukee
Harley-Davidson to support an organization that rescues pit bulls. This
was June 12, 2010. I think they liked our name,” Spatz said.
“Initially, we were playing straight covers. We’ve since added a lot
of original material. Both (Dave Kaiser) and I write the material and then
the band as a whole molds it into the final product.”
Lead vocalist Aaron
Berndt is a lawyer from Milwaukee and the band’s front man who enjoys
making any crowd the “sixth member” of the group. Bass player Bob
Theys is a jazz enthusiast and multi-instrumentalist who has been part of
the Milwaukee scene for years.
Their talents and Jim
Oldham’s percussion expertise are a foundation for Kaiser, lead
guitarist and vocalist of 30 years.
we’re not a straight-up blues band by any means,” Spatz said. “The
constant is our eclectic mix of styles. They add their touch to cover
tunes such as melding the Stone’s tune ‘You Can’t Always Get WhatYou
Want’ into Lou Reed’s ‘Take a Walk on the Wild Side.’” But Spatz
“I love doing our
originals; there’s a certain feeling you get when you’re up on stage
and realize that you’re playing something nobody else in the world is
doing,” Spatz said.
Some covers give
Oldham a chance to shine.
rewarding, but I love playing “Whipping Post” by the Allman
Brothers,” Kaiser said. “There is a point when the band stops and you
can hear the crowd singing along with (Aaron Berndt) ‘O Lord, I feel
like I’m dying.’ The band comes back in and we really kick it in the
with Chicago, the blues is well cared for in southeastern Wisconsin. The
Grafton Blues Association is a common thread with all Blind Dog Hopkins
members. From the late 1920s to 1932, the Grafton site for Paramount
recording turned out blues recordings of Chicago musicians. Paramount
recordings are celebrated as historical gems by the Grafton Blues
“(The Grafton Blues
Association) works very hard to support the blues, and have helped Blind
Dog Hopkins and the other member bands gain exposure while offering great
lineups to the people who attend their events,” Spatz said. Kaiser
echoed the sentiment.
mission includes sponsorship of community events with blues musicians,
performers, entertainers, educators and historians to foster an
appreciation of American popular music and the blues.
According to its
website, the band will perform at the Brat Stop in Kenosha at 8 p.m. May
31 and at 7:30 p.m. June 20 at the House of Heileman’s on Big Cedar Lake
in West Bend.