Lone Wolf Is a Banjo-Wielding, One-Man Band, Howling His Way Through Miami

Lone Wolf OMB is an army of one.
Lone Wolf OMB is an army of one.
Photo Courtesy of Lone Wolf

People seem to forget that Miami used to be a swamp.

Since then, European explorers, waves of people from all over the world, and Pitbull have been poured into and over it, creating a wild west on the southeastern tip of this country like no other place. However, all that glitter and culture and humid uniqueness that we now call Miami still is what it was: a swamp.

Things have emerged from the marriage of swamp and cosmopolitan, dark things that lurk in the shadows, waiting patiently with a banjo in hand. For example:Lone Wolf OMB (One Man Band).

Unbeknown to most of us, we have a fire-spitting one-man band who is as much of a hybrid as this fine city we call home. Lone Wolf OMB, known by the law as Bruno Esposito, lives among us, a tornado of awesome sound, and everyone seems to know this but us. He plays punk-rock drums with his feet and a quiver of stringed instruments — from guitar to dobro to claw-hammer banjo to the double-necked "diddly bow” guitar. Throw in the harmonica and a voice like he’s been gargling kitty litter for years and you have a one-man tour de force that calls Miami his home.

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He’s played upright bass in bands Los Humaniax from 1997 to 2001 and the Van Orsdels from 2002 to 2005. But Bruno has been the only member of his band from 2010 to the present.

He’s been a cook by trade for most of his years, spinning pizza pies from here to Costa Rica, where he ran the family restaurant.

Now he regularly tours the country with his act and has just returned from his second wildly successful tour in Europe, where he played 29 shows in 30 days to packed clubs screaming for their favorite songs.

We sat down with Lone Wolf over whiskey to get to the bottom of this beautiful swamp creature.

New Times: Do you think that what you play is blues?
Bruno Esposito: Some songs, yeah, but I kinda do ’em faster and raunchier. Maybe even simpler.

Do you think that appeals to people?
It appeals to me. I don’t really go by what appeals to people. I go by what appeals to me, and if people like it, cool.

So, do you call it blues?
I call it Bruno music. I call it Lone Wolf, one-man band.

When you were playing any traditional songs in Europe, did they recognize the tunes?
Nah, they can’t understand what I’m saying anyway. But the next album, I’d like to write down all my lyrics. That’s what I used to like to do when listening to music I couldn’t really understand.

Will you post the lyrics on your website?
No, there’s nothing like when you get the album in your hand. Maybe I’ll do vinyl — pictures, lyrics, and fun facts.

All right, Europeans seem to love American music a lot. A lot of them get real good at it. I’m sure you met a lot of real good musicians over there. But somehow, I feel, there is always a little something that’s missing ’cause they aren’t American. Do you think that’s true?
The only thing I think is missing from some of these cats is that language, you know? And sometimes to me, it sounds cool with that little accent in there. It makes it different, you know?

So you basically disagree.
Yeah. I do. ’Cause I kind of like that stuff. For instance, Dad Horse Experience.

It’s this guy from Germany, and he sings with this really heavy accent. That’s what’s appealing to me about him.

I know you’ve done a lot of busking. What’s the difference between busking in Miami and other places?
It depends on the crowd and place. Luck of the draw, man. People love to hear music. Especially the banjo. I clean up with the banjo, man. Banjo and harmonica. That’s my moneymaker on the streets.

You play a different style banjo than most, don’t you?
I play claw-hammer style. Not a lot of people do that.

Can you name any venues that you love in Miami?
I love ’em all. Anyone who books me.

OK, then tell me a venue that you hate.
I’m not gonna do that.

Anyone who doesn’t book you?
You’re not gonna get me on that! I don’t know who won’t book me ’cause I never try. Gigs are given to me. [laughs] You ain’t gonna get me on that, Scotchy!

If you couldn’t be a musician or cook, what would you be?
A pilot.

Really? You’ve thought this through?
Yeah, I wanna fly. But slow. It would have to be one of them slow planes. Just fast enough to fly. Mainly just so that I could make it to gigs easily.

Lone Wolf OMB with the Drunken Cuddle, Ray Cashman, and more. 9 p.m. Thursday, August 20, at Clandestino Pub, 758 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-397-8946; or visit their Facebook page. Admission is free.

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