Sparky & Friends

Sparky & Friends, Sparky & the Wipers and 22 oz. Porterhouse all pretty much center around one man.  Paul Hinz.  The band hasn't played much in the past several years.  Getting the entire band together with everyone's busy schedules just doesn't seem to work.  However, from time to time, the stars align and we get to enjoy that rare combination of Paul 'Sparky' Hinz, Mike Schlenker, Tom Ouimette and Terry DeMars.

Don't expect the Eau Claire band to pull all-night cram sessions to prepare though. "We'll get together a little bit," lead guitarist Mike Schlenker said. "We don't want to rehearse enough to hurt ourselves."

"This is going to be just as much fun to see the people as it is playing," he said. Sparky and the Wipers formed in the late 1990s. The band is named after guitarist and lead singer Paul Hinz, who owns Sparkle Wash of Eau Claire. "He has a unique way of how he hears and plays things," Schlenker said. "His guitar playing is very cool."

In 2001, Sparky and the Wipers released a self-titled CD of blues covers. The group gained a following through energetic live shows. "It's very guitar-driven,” Schlenker said of the Wipers' sound. "It's pretty much wide open. We play a slow song or two, but the whole set is very up-tempo and in your face.”

The last time the band got together was a Sunday show for our ‘Lust for Blues’ event this past spring at The Metropolis resort, Action City.  As usual, rehearsal time was minimal and the music was rockin’!

At one point it was decided that Sparky & the Wipers wouldn’t “officially” perform unless all four members were present.  Not the types to sit idly by, Paul, Mike & Terry recruited Tony Basley on drums, giving birth to the lineup known as Sparky & Friends that you’ll see at Tuesday Night Blues.

(Portions of this article were written by Troy Espe, for an article originally appeared in the Leader-Telegram on March 19, 2009.  You can read the entire article by clicking here.)