Legendary Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame angler Joe Bucher is most widely noted today as a musky guru. His beginnings are deeply rooted in bass fishing. In fact, during his boyhood years he was locally known as a “Teenage Bassin’ Wiz.” Throughout the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s he was a full-time walleye guide and took clients on frequent musky trips.
A prolific writer, Joe has authored six books and has contributed writings for many regional and national publications on a wide variety of hunting and fishing topics. His articles regularly appear in the pages of Outdoor News publications as well as Musky Hunter Magazine, which he founded. He has been a writer for over 35 years and published his first article when he was just 19 years old. He has pioneered many of the musky angling concepts that are now considered mainstream techniques, and he founded Musky Hunter Magazine in the 1980s.
Bucher is one of the most highly sought after seminar orators for big game fish in the country drawing crowds of fans and hardcore anglers anxious to learn more from a true master. He also writes, produces, and plays his own music instrumentals for his TV series, Fishing With Joe Bucher.
Joe on his new tunes:
I developed this new daily warmup practice schedule every morning as therapy for my arthritic hands and my friends suggested I film and post these short video rehearsals on social media. So, I have been. There are dozens of cuts up on my Joe Bucher Music page on Facebook including the latest two: “Back Alley Blues” and “Black Cat Crawl.” These two recent cuts are now also up on YouTube.
My composition process is simple and that’s the same philosophy I use in fishing. I stick to creating simple rhythms and then play a few guitar solos over them. Nothing is rehearsed. It is 100% spontaneous improv relying on pure instinct in-the-moment creativity. Sometimes they turn out just ok. Sometimes, they simply aren’t worth publishing. But once in a while, the magic is there. All improv artists kinda know what I am talking about.
Tone is vital to me in blues and jazz blues playing. I play around a lot with amps, effects and guitar setups. Some tunes demand clean classic tones especially jazz blues and that then pushes me to play slower and articulate with vibrato. It also brings out the jazzy side. Others go off the rail to the blues rock realm bringing out an aggressive style. It varies every day and I love the challenges.
I play a variety of guitars and this is showcased on my Facebook page — Joe Bucher Music. However, I am admittedly a Strat man including employing a floating tremolo in my techniques. The black Strat featured on these latest tunes is actually my oldest one. It was given to me decades ago by Frankie Sullivan from the rock group Survivor. I had given up playing for a number of years while trying to build a fishing business. Frankie and I used to fish together back in the 80s. He handed one of his guitars after a day on the water and was surprised by my bluesy riffs. Very very rusty riffs, by the way. I hadn’t played in years. Fast forward a few months later, Frankie gifted me this ol’ black 62RI Strat and encouraged me to never ever stop playing again.
Joe on his Blues fest:
24 years ago, I started a small blues fest in northern Wisconsin. It was surprisingly successful from day one and grew quite a bit every year. About 14 years ago the whole focus of the blues fest changed when the local community I lived in became desperate to raise money for youth sports programs. I had both a son and a grandson in these programs so I felt a personal connection with this effort.
A good friend was running the program at the time and he was also a fan of our blues festival. Over a beer I ran this wild idea by him that — instead of trying to sell cookies and pizzas all summer to raise funds, why don’t you guys take over running my fest and we then make it a BIG annual fundraiser? Initially, it was a tough sell with some folks who thought raising money through music, bbq, and beer was a crazy idea, but somehow, we got enough folks to go along with it. The rest is history.
Parents, teachers, coaches, alumni and volunteers all join forces now every year to make this thing work. And all the proceeds go to fund youth sports and scholarship programs. What a homerun. The event had my name on it for decades, but after retiring I encouraged the blues fest faithful to change the name to the Northwoods Blues Fest so it could stand on its own after I am gone.
The event happens the same weekend every summer — the last Saturday in July. It has been at St Germain Community Park for over a decade now. It runs from 12 noon til 9 p.m. Three bands plus a BBQ cookout fest and a huge silent auction. It is now a 3-pronged event: Blues, BBQ and silent auction. Finally, the event is now such a staple in that area that dozens of local businesses actually now underwrite the event with sponsorship. They get their business logo on banners at the event and on all clothing, as well as tv, radio and print ads.
It surely is something I am proud to have started and glad to still be a part of. This year’s Northwoods Blues Fest opens with Jonny T-Bird at noon, Mighty Miss Erica at 3 p.m., and finally —- Joe Bucher & The Topraiders at 6 p.m.
Northwood Blues Festival is on Saturday, July 30. For more info, head here.