Big O and the Niteowls Showband (formerely Big O and the Shakers)
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Big O and the Niteowls Showband (formerely Big O and the Shakers)

Band Blues R&B


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"The music man"

Oscar "Big O" Wheeler has belted out tunes since he was 7.
That's when he began singing gospel songs at a Baptist church in his hometown of Kosciusko, Miss.
"I grew up loving music," said Wheeler, who was born in the "mid-1940s" and taught himself to play guitar and keyboards as a young man.
"I enjoy just about any kind of music if it's done right," said Wheeler, leader of the Milwaukee-based band, Big O and the Shakers, which plays periodically at the Boathouse.
Wheeler's music is done right.
He and his group recently won a 2006 Wisconsin Area Music Industry Award as best blues group/artist.
"I love spiritual music, country music, blues, R&B and rock 'n' roll," Wheeler said. "That's what I do in the band - a little bit of everything."
That range of music also is reflected on his CD of 15 original, first-rate songs entitled, "Everything But Love." The disc includes a poem by the mother of an American soldier serving in Iraq that Wheeler turned into a song titled, "A Mother's Salute."
Wheeler performed solo for decades at weddings, hotels, churches and parties before forming his first band just three years ago.
"It took a long time before I decided to get into a band," Wheeler said. "I'd been playing around by myself and I wasn't going to many places that had bands."
Wheeler moved from Mississippi to Milwaukee in 1969 and worked for years as an automotive spray-painter at a Milwaukee plant that did primer work for American Motors Corp. cars manufactured in Kenosha.
He also has worked as a tour-bus driver and long-haul truck driver.
Throughout, performing music has been a weekend mainstay.
"I got music jobs through word of mouth," he said. "I hadn't made a CD or anything at that time. People would call me up and ask me if I wanted to play wedding receptions and parties, that kind of thing."
These days when he plays solo, it's with a keyboard that also kicks out drums, bass, guitar and other instruments, making him a one-man band.
But his four-piece band is his bread and butter now.
"A couple of bands had heard me and asked me to sit in with them and I enjoyed that, so decided to start my own band," he said.
He's had several personnel changes, but his bass player - Thomas Hemphrey - has remained from the start.
"It's hard to get musicians who are set on music instead of coming in just to get the money," he said. "They don't want to rehearse. They want to go set up, play and get paid for it."
Also, Wheeler has no tolerance for substance abuse among his band members.
"I will not have a musician in my band that's hung up on drugs or alcohol," Wheeler said.
"It's all right if they have a social drink, but if they drink so much they can't do their job, I don't need that kind of a problem. People mess up and you don't get hired back. I can't deal with that."
Entertaining audiences is Wheeler's top priority.
"That's the fun part," he said. "I like to please the crowd. I'm not doing this to make a whole lot of money, although the money helps. People go out to have a good time. so if you're putting on a good show the people have a great time and they'll come back."
Wheeler is an animated performer who enjoys getting the audience out on the dance floor.
"You gotta get the crowd energized - get people moving and interested in what yor're doing," he said. "If people see the band is not having fun, they're not going to have any fun. You have to show them where the fun is. It's right here. Let's do this!" - Kenosha News


I have three CD's, some of which can be heard on my website or
Auto Blues
A Mother's Salute
Everything but Love



We are based in Milwaukee, WI and have been performing blues and soul from Florida to Nevada. We've played various benefits, clubs and casinos in Nevada, Mississippi, Florida and Wisconsin. We were voted 2006 Wisconsin Area Music Industry Blues Group of the Year. The Florida Motion Picture and Television Assn. honored Big O with the 2006 Crystal Reel Award for 'Male Vocalist-Short Film' for his original song 'Cane'.
Big O received national attention with his two-song CD titled 'A Mother's Salute'. It is currently being used as a fundraiser for better communication systems between our military in Iraq and their families.
We not only play the blues; we FEEL the blues. We play Otis Redding, Bobby Blue Bland, BB King, Wilson Pickett, Vince Gill, Albert King, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Ray Charles, Percy Sledge, Keith Urban and Mark Wills.
We love what we do and it shows. It's all about having fun and making people happy.
We are guaranteed to please and our love of performing is shown in our music and appearance. We play a wide variety of music to keep you singing and dancing and always wanting more.