The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Group breaks into local scene

    Fat Maw Rooney


    A psychedelic jam band with a funk blues overcoat.


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    Craig Bauman (guitar, harmonica, vocals), sophomore Ryan Peterson (guitar, trumpet, vocals), A.J. Dexheimer (drums), sophomore Kevin Rowe (bass, vocals) and senior Ryan Necci (percussion, vocals).


    Bob Dylan, Moe, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Allman Brothers, Bootsy Collins, Eric Clapton, Jerry Garcia, Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius and Ben Harper.


    This band was formed in 1996 as the Roadhouse Blues Band by Bauman, Peterson and Dexheimer when they were in high school in Milwaukee.

    The three began playing around the Milwaukee and Oconomowoc area and started to get a feel for their music.

    After high school they all went their respective ways to college, but the band wanted to remain playing music together.

    The group acquired Kevin Rowe in late 2001. Previously, he had been involved in a couple different school bands. He brought a solid bass backbone to the band.

    Peterson met Necci in 2002 when he asked Peterson to join his band, Boone. It eventually came to an end, so Necci joined Roadhouse.

    Everyone in the current band has a long history in music – most starting before the age of 10 – and a deep love for the music that they make together.

    The band changed its name from Roadhouse Blues Band to Fat Maw Rooney because they feared that a stigmatism would follow with Roadhouse.

    It is much more than a blues band, and the name was misleading. I think it was a good idea to change to something that people have to wonder about and come expecting nothing.

    After the band was assembled, it wanted to branch out and begin playing venue’s out of its native southern part of the state.

    Peterson, a UW-Eau Claire sophomore, booked a few shows in town at The Mousetrap Bar, 311 S. Barstow St., to bring the band’s sounds to the area.

    It currently is on tour promoting its freshman album, “End of the Beginning.”

    The Music

    I first heard of the band when I met some of the members at one of the local establishments.

    They were familiar with my work and said that I should check out theirs. Being a man of strong music quality, I concurred.

    I missed the band’s first show at the ‘trap due to my spring break festivities. However, I armed myself with its new CD and commenced to study it.

    I have to be honest and say that right off, I was not that impressed. It was a good disc, but there was nothing on it that really jumped out and excited me.

    Others around me really seemed to enjoy it, but I was skeptical.

    So I took the CD out of the player and put it into my Discman in order to hear every note that was being played.

    I discovered something that I had missed before. I have seen this underground movement to bring a more vintage sound to life with a new-age touch, and Fat Maw Rooney really displays it.

    This is especially true in songs like “Bourbon Street,” which has an Allman-esque quality to it, conjuring up sounds from music past.

    Also, there is a fat-backed bass line on that song that is really cool.

    “Blues on High” is a haunting ballad that looks inside the mind of the artist. Or as Peterson said, “urge of creative release.”

    This song definitely changed the pace of the CD and brought me into another mood.

    I think they could do some further editing on some songs. I listened to “Blue Angel” about five times, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why in the hell it was so long. At 12 minutes, 44 seconds, I thought it could be cut down a little bit.

    It was a playful groove and it had a good message, but just too long.

    The title track is very telling of where this group of musicians is at right now. It was definitely my favorite on the disc. I don’t know, I guess I just related to it.

    Still, after closely examining the disc, I couldn’t make up my mind on what I thought.

    I decided to place my faith in the live show, where you are made or broke.

    They played on April Fools day with Shady Grooves at The Mousetrap.

    I was in a fabulous mood and ready to hear some live music.

    Shady Grooves was great, but that is another review for another time.

    I found out that the essence of Fat Maw Rooney lives in its live performance.

    The music seemed so much more alive when it was playing on stage as opposed to listening to it on a CD.

    If it could harness the same kind of energy in the studio as it did on stage, it really could have something going.

    The band had so much energy and it looked like the members were having a really good time, which only puts you in the same kind of mood.

    I found myself sometimes lost because so much was going on in front of me. The solos were off the hook, drums were good and vocals alright.

    I have to admit that sometimes the vocals were off, but I really liked that the duties of singing were handled by different members.

    You could tell that everyone had a collective part in the creativity of the music – not just one idea, but a collection of many.

    After the show I recognized why there was a buzz about this band.

    I highly recommend that you catch its next show. I may be right, or I could be a complete idiot, so I leave the real critiquing up to you.

    Upcoming Shows

    Fat Maw Rooney will be performing May 7 at the Stones Throw, 304 Eau Claire St., with a band to be announced.

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