Local favorites end tour in Eau Claire

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When the self-described jam-funk-rock band Fat Maw Rooney plays a show, there are always surprises.

“It’s pretty crazy. It’s a lot of different influences coming out all at once from a lot of different angles,” said Craig Baumann, guitarist and vocalist. “But somehow we’re able to use our chemistry as the glue to put all these ideas together.”

As a final stop on their Halloween tour, the band will perform Saturday at The Stone’s Throw, 304 Eau Claire St.

The Wisconsin-based band has a long history in Eau Claire.

First coming onto the city’s music scene in 2003, the band considers Eau Claire its second home, since four of the five members went to the university.

Over the years, they’ve played here several times, at Halloween concerts and private parties at peoples’ houses, said R.J. Peterson, vocalist, guitarist and UW-Eau Claire alumnus.

He said a few years ago they played on a porch for a Homecoming party and ended up staying for hours on end hanging out with the crowd.

But the band began way before their debut in Eau Claire.

Baumann started playing cover songs with Peterson in 1996, under the name Roadhouse Blues Band.

In 2003 Baumann, Peterson and vocalist and bassist Kevin Rowe recorded their first album, “End of the Beginning,” and changed their name to Fat Maw Rooney.

Baumann said it was their graduation from a generic name to something that actually fit what they were doing, since they didn’t just play blues and cover music anymore.

“It shocked a lot of people,” he said with a laugh, since it was all original material.

In 2006 they released their second album, “Horseshoes and Hand Grenades.”

As years passed, most of the familiar faces they used to see in the Eau Claire crowds graduated and moved away, so the band is essentially starting over in Eau Claire, Peterson said.

“I want to keep that scene going. I think there are a lot of people that are into this kind of music,” he said.

Peterson said their style is hard to describe.

The band has a lot of different influences from serious jazz musicians like Miles Davis and Coltrane to Bob Dylan to Rage Against the Machine, he said.

“It’s a slippery slope, because a lot of times we think it’s good music and we hope you do to,” he said with a laugh.

Ryan Necci, vocalist, percussionist and Eau Claire alumnus, said the shows are intense.

“All five guys are pretty strong personalities,” he said, adding that about half of every show is improvised. “So it’s really interesting to see how everybody compromises and the direction we go on a certain night.”

Senior Caitlin Hammer said she definitely thinks it’s good music.

“It’s clear that all the members of the band are individually talented,” Hammer said. “They’re able to jam on their own and go off on their own creations, and I really like how they wrote their own songs . when they do covers they’re still awesome.”

Hammer said the band is from her hometown, Oconomowoc, Wis. so she knows them personally and considers them good friends.

“I’ll see them out . they’re always willing to talk to you about their music,” she said. “It’s always just fun to go listen to. They’re so energetic and you can tell they’re passionate about their music.”

The Smokin’ Bandits are also playing that night.

Necci said he is looking forward to another show in the city.

“The people in Eau Claire seem to be into the live music,” he said. “We stop in some college towns where there’s not much of a music scene going on, so it’s nice to go into a place where people care.”

Fat Maw Rooney
Time: 8 p.m.
Date: Saturday
Place: The Stone’s Throw, 304 Eau Claire St.
Cost: $5