Wonderful Bluffer, Modern Joey, and Tonbi Claw Play Fire on Water

Wonderful Bluffer.

A myriad of Milwaukee rock outfits played the downtown dive bar Fire on Water Friday night – blues rock duo Wonderful Bluffer, psychedelic noise rock band Tonbi Claw, and roots rock band Modern Joey. It had been Tonbi Claw’s first show since last October.

Wonderful Bluffer consists of vocalist/guitarist Christian Fritz-Klaus (his vocal debut), guitarist Joe Joe Scott, and tenor saxophonist Julia Lewandowski (the latter of which went on stage with Modern Joey). The outfit’s name originates from a tale of an African musician who regularly ventured into dangerous territory to play music, winning folks over as he did. They are regular performers within the DIY circuit of Milwaukee – The Murray Attic, Room 808, and Downer House have all hosted them.

“Fire on Water is very narrow and rectangle-shaped…there’s a crowd there but they’re kinda behind everything. But when the cheering went on it sounds full,” Fritz said.

Scott reflects on the familial nature of Milwaukee’s music scene.

“We’re obviously good close friends as a result of the music…and just the way you meet people in this city, it has a way of coming full circle. I am delighted to play with Fritz, it’s just a blast. When we play gigs I call them “boogaloos” – when you got all your friends and family and everyone you care about supporting each other. This is the great thing about Milwaukee and these bands – we all play music with each other and help out when somebody can’t make a show…it’s like a collective family.

“I was doing some solo stuff in Ohio for awhile and it took me awhile to find another musician that takes something so seriously,” Fritz added. “I’ll pitch Joe Joe an idea or a song I’ve written and we’ll have his own twist on it in a week or less. That’s so refreshing for me to find someone that shares a passion with Milwaukee’s musical renaissance.”

Wonderful Bluffer is currently working on getting their songs “Freedom Tide” and “Broken Man” recorded, as well as transitioning from an acoustic duo to a full band.

“We’re just gonna keep doing what we love – playing up music live to our friends and people in this city, cuz there’s nothing better than doing it,” Scott said.

Modern Joey is a roots rock outfit made up of vocalist/guitarist Carl Erikstrup, guitarist/vocalist Logan Furuta, bassist Alec Mejia, and drummer Jackson Payne. The band’s name comes from an inside joke about their light guy. They underwent numerous lineup changes in their year-and-a-half run but now has a consistent group. A demo of their song “Hang ‘Em In Town” may be found on Bandcamp.

“I feel like this was definitely a better show (than last week) since people were dancing, jumping, and drunk,” Erikstrup said. “That’s what we want everyone to do.”

“It’s great when you have people sitting at a bar and you see a couple heads turn during a solo, but it’s even better when people who may have seen you before or have heard of you are up there dancing and enjoying themselves,” Furuta added.

“We’ve had gigs where there’s nobody there but the fuckin’ bartender,” Erikstrup said. “Those have their own charm as well cuz you gotta pay your dues.”

The band is a frequent partaker in the monthly MKE Music Night, which is hosted by jazz-fusion band The Sunkin Suns and features young DIY bands at gigs all over Milwaukee. Erikstrup speaks on MKE Music Night and why he appreciates it.

“Everybody that goes is a friend of mine and everybody in the bands we’re friends with. We all started gigging right around the same time so it’s been fun watching everybody grow in the last year and become closer with everybody.”

Modern Joey is finalizing their new logo and merchandise, and hope to enter the studio by late summer/early fall to do a few songs. They play Thurman’s with Tlalok of The Sunkin Suns on June 28th.

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