Local Band Alert: The Jokers Wild Blues Band

The Jokers Wild Blues Band
The Jokers Wild Blues Band

Local Band Alert: ThisisReno takes a closer look at local bands in this series of 5-minute interviews. This week we chat with The Jokers Wild Blues Band.

Reno is lucky to have local bands playing just about every genre of music there is, including the blues, the chosen genre of The Jokers Wild Blues Band. A Reno blues favorite, these guys have some chops and love performing live.

Together for six years The Jokers Wild Blues Band draws inspiration from classic blues and Southern rock artists including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, J.J. Cale, and Charley Musselwhite. Led by front man Bill Nagel, who turns in some solid solo work, the band also features Marcel Vasquez on lead guitar, Paul Tiensvold on harmonica, Paul Rudolph on bass, and Brannon Shenkel on drums. They are fun, energetic, and always adding to their repertoire. In addition to playing a few originals they regularly take requests from the audience.

The Jokers Wild Blues Band is most recognized as the house band for the Sands’ popular Blues Pool Party for the past five summers. They’ve also backed up every blues musician in Reno plus many out-of-towners who happen to be traveling through. They’ve graced the stages of every dive bar in northern Nevada but excel at performing outside. In 2017 the band was nominated in the Best Blues Band category of the FORTE Awards.

Recently at a band photo shoot I set up an interview with Bill Nagel. Here’s what he had to say:

ThisisReno: Who came up with the band name and logo?

Nagel: They both came from the creative mind of our harmonica player, Paul Tiensvold. Paul has been with the band since the beginning and is probably one of the top two harp players in Reno. He’s a veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s an honor to share the stage with him. He also has written a song we play regularly titled “Wildcat Woman.”

TIR: Describe your sound and style?

Nagel: We have an upbeat style driven mostly by both our harmonica and lead guitar players. We try to keep it real bluesy but love venturing out to Southern rock, Americana, rock ‘n’ roll, and wide open jams. Our sound is very rhythmic with a solid backbeat and an overlay of guitar and harmonica solos.

TIR: What bands inspire you?

Nagel: Locally, Blue Haven. They’ve been around for years and are pretty much our heroes. Other bands are Widespread Panic, Government Mule, Robert Cray, Paul Butterfield, Steely Dan, Boz Skaggs, and Bob Dylan.

TIR: Tell me something that happened on stage during a show that you will never forget?

Nagel: We’ve suffered lightning, rain, drunk ladies on the stripper pole. The best was a gig at a local casino and while we were onstage playing a gentleman proceeded to relieve himself by whipping it out and urinating against the wall into a heating duct in front of the stage. We laughed so hard and never felt so appreciated.

TIR: What are your thoughts on the Reno music scene?

Nagel: We love the Reno music scene. It’s varied and there’s lots of venues, but of course we wish there were more. We love all the quality musicians and the varied styles and genres.

You can catch The Jokers Wild Blues Band live at Studio on 4th on Feb. 17, 2018. Do yourself a favor and go to this one, you won’t be disappointed.

For more information on the band visit http://www.thejokerswildbluesband.com/.  And remember to always support your local bands and venues, Go to a Show!

Some photos courtesy of Starla.

John Tuckness
About John Tuckness 106 Articles
John Tuckness has been photographing rock concerts in the Reno/Sparks/Tahoe area and as far as Northern California since 2004. He tries to attend as many shows as he can. John knew he wanted to be a concert photographer when he went to his first concert, Kiss and Montrose way back in 1976. He saw three guys shooting the show and thought to himself, "that's what I want to do." After many years of undercover work (sneaking his camera into venues), he finally got noticed and started getting photo passes through PR people and the bands. John has had many of his photos published in newspapers, websites and band autobiographies.