The association would last most of the decade, until differences in musical direction found the two parting ways in 1997. Wilder then jumpstarted a new band, The Jumpstreet 88s, with vocalist/saxophonist/harmonica player Stan Street. Street's move to Mississippi last year prompted the formation of Piano Bob's 88s and brought Wilder some East Coast gigs as part of the Tony O Band, a New York-based outfit with whom he had previously shared the stage at Miami's perennial blues bastion, Tobacco Road. Meanwhile he recorded three albums 1993's Piano Bob & The Snowman, 1998's The Jumpstreet 88s, and Piano Bob's 88s, due sometime this winter.
These days he plays most nights of the week via a rotating series of gigs Mondays at Churchill's in Little Haiti, Wednesdays at Fritz & Franz Bierhaus in Coral Gables, Thursdays and Sundays with guitarist Eric "Slim Bogey" Bogart at Le Deux Fontaines on South Beach. That's in addition to the one-off dates with his band, Piano Bob's 88s, which includes drummer Lou Abbott, guitarist Dave Brophy, and occasional sax player Al Ferreira.
Piano Bob cuddles into a groove
Friday, December 9, at 9:30 p.m. Free admission. For more information, call 305-774-1883, or visit www.pianobob.net.
Fritz & Franz Bierhaus, 60 Merrick Way, Coral Gables
Though some performers consider their own music a pastime, a profession, or both, Wilder sees himself more as a man on a mission. "I feel that I'm fighting for a cause," he insists. "The blues is one of the most honest forms of expression. It's not the flavor of the month. To me, music is a universal language; it connects on the most basic level. It's this unadorned reality that has nothing to do with what you have but rather who you are."