Sue DaBaco & Wise Fools

by Mike Huberty
January 2009

Sue DaBaco & Wise Fools

Sue DaBaco & Wise Fools

An Illinois native whose star is on the rise in the Milwaukee blues scene, lead guitarist and frontwoman, Sue DaBaco came to southeastern Wisconsin a decade ago after playing in Chicago’s Buzz Kilman And The All Bubba Blues Band for years. She solidified the lineup of her band, WISE FOOLS, four years ago with Scott Walters on bass and Darrel Douglas on drums. A power trio that started off as primarily blues but has “morphed into a progressive rock-blues thing”, according to DaBaco.

Raised on the still-ubiquitous 70’s rock sound of bands like Fleetwood Mac, Rush, and Heart, DaBaco says Jimi Hendrix is still her favorite, but she also incorporates influences like Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Sonny Landreth. WISE FOOLS has been performing regularly throughout Wisconsin, being an annual Summerfest favorite, and even opening up for big classic rock names like Peter Frampton, Eddie Money, and Jefferson Starship, along with more straight-up blues musicians like Koko Taylor, Lonnie Brooks, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.

Their latest accomplishment is a victory in the 2008 Grafton Blues Challenge and that’s providing them with a rare opportunity. “The Grafton Blues Association is sending us down to Memphis in February to compete in the International Blues Challenge.”, DaBaco says. “And these challenges have a real strict set of criteria. In Grafton, they brought in some local judges, and they’re judging you on energy, stage presence, blues content, and engagement with the audience.” It’s like an international battle of the blues bands where the winners get cash prizes but most importantly, a series of well-paying gigs at different venues across North America (and a show at a festival in the Virgin Islands!). So the band that wins first place gets a ready-made tour of nice clubs, which is a dream for most performing musicians. She’s excited about the contest and on January 24th, they’re performing at a benefit at the Black Swan Room in Grafton, Wisconsin. There’s an eight-year old blues prodigy named Tallan “T-Man” Latz also from Wisconsin, who’s been selected to perform at the Challenge as well, and the benefit is about helping them with some of the expenses to make the trip.

As for their goals DaBaco states, “Primarily we want to travel in a wider area and we’d like to get hooked up with a lot more festival organizers.” Travel is something she already does when she goes over and plays with a band from Eastern Europe from time to time. But she wants to bring more success to her Wisconsin guys, “Eventually we do want to catch on somehow, it’s a matter of growing the band, but growing it at a rate where we still can handle it. We’re doing three shows at a time during the week. We all want to eventually toss aside the day job and do it full time. We need to be careful and make sure we can we really do this and see what happens and figure out how to manage our lifestyles.”

Until they hit the big time though, Midwestern blues fans have plenty of chances to get their taste of what DaBaco calls “a high-energy, extremely entertaining show where you should just be ready to be grabbed by the band. We really believe in interacting with the audience,  be prepared to be part of the show with us.” SUE DaBACO AND WISE FOOLS are booked out well into 2009 with shows all around the state, from La Crosse to Wausau to Milwaukee. As she says, “We’re trying to erase the line between the band and the audience so that everyone has a really good time. If I do that, then I feel the night’s a success.”

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