Minnesota-based band The Big Wu is back in town for two full shows this weekend
Steamboat Springs — The Big Wu follows a philosophy that guides every one of their shows: they don’t have fans, they have family.
In this burgeoning jamband era, The Big Wu became known as the house band at a bar called The Cabooze in Northfield, Minnesota, where the band hails from. There, they gave out cassette tapes of a live recorded show for fans to copy and share with friends.
“The Big WU is essentially a live band that just shines in a live setting,” said Mark Joseph Grundhoefer, who has plays guitar and performs vocals for the group. “It’s where they really come to life. Those tapes that captured that sound or feeling really helped created that early grassroots fan base.”
Over the years, the group has evolved, incorporating a number of influences such as bluegrass, rock, jazz, psychedelia and R&B while also honing their songwriting skills. The Big Wu was one of the first featured bands to perform with Widespread Panic, Umphrey’s McGee and String Cheese Incident the Bonnaroo music festival in Tennessee..
Although the group has been in Steamboat Springs a few times before, they are back in town for 10 p.m. shows Friday and Saturday at the Old Town Pub.
“What sets The Big Wu apart from other bands is the guys,” said Old Town Pub bartender, Chris Porter (Potsy), who used to work with the band in Minnesota in the late 1990s. “They are super friendly and are always willing to talk to fans after shows.”
Although they’ve reach national notoriety over the years, The Big Wu never thought they would be where they are today.
“To be a good band, you have to play music to people,” said bassist Andy Miller. “You have to have that entertainment factor and be dedicated to work hard and make sure to read the audience. Because if they aren’t diggin’ what you are doing, it’s time to change it up. You have to make it good for them.”
With four studio albums in their repertoire, Miller said the show in Steamboat will have a mix of old and new tunes.
“Chris Castino, the main songwriter who also sings and plays guitar, is a really creative writer who is able to tell a great story with different innuendoes and metaphors,” Grundhoefer said. “Even now, what he and the other members keep coming up with is phenomenal and met with great responses.”
The loyal following of fans around the country has helped the band get to where they are today, and for their shows in Steamboat, Miller said band members have a few “tricks up their sleeves.”
“They had the opportunity to go corporate but they never did it,” Old Town Pub manager Sean Regan said. “They wanted the music to stay underground and grow their fan base. For The Big Wu, it’s always been about the music and just performing and having fun with the people around them.”
Tickets for the weekend are $15 for each night or $25 for both nights. They can be purchased at the door or before the show at Old Town Pub.
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