A full deck

Joker’s Wild brings back an element of rock ‘n’ roll to the hipster scene

Joker’s Wild is singer Lori Libbee, baasist Alan Rippey,  guitarist Tim Burke and drummer Tim Schoberts.

Joker’s Wild is singer Lori Libbee, baasist Alan Rippey, guitarist Tim Burke and drummer Tim Schoberts.

Photo By David Robert

When you go out to see a local band, what do you want to see? Another way-too-hip lineup of art school dropouts? More brooding lyrics from a guy wearing too much makeup? A wall of out-of-tune feedback?

Or do you want some rock ‘n’ roll that you can sing along with, played by a band that’s (heaven forbid) having a good time? That’s what Joker’s Wild brings to the Reno scene.

Joe Bob’s Roadhouse in Carson City was buzzing with after-dinner conversation on a recent Friday night. On the stage, Joker’s Wild was laying down blues and classic rock, keeping things mellow. Lead singer Lori Libbee strutted and danced in a dress that looked like it was made of flames. The band’s guys all wore black T-shirts with a joker’s head on them. People tapped toes and bobbed heads, feeling low- key, comfortable.

That didn’t last long. With an opening riff that fires up anyone who lived through the 1980s, Joker’s Wild launched into a rockin’ version of “You Gotta Fight For Your Right.” From there on out it was party time. Georgia Satellites and Brownstone Station, Nirvana and the Fabulous T-Birds, Black Crowes and Lenny Kravitz were all rendered in a roadhouse blues tone. They even played “Roadhouse Blues.”

“Having fun is the idea,” bassist Alan Rippey says.

Joker’s Wild is Libbee, Rippey, guitarist Tim Burke and drummer Tim Schoberts. Schoberts and Rippey started Joker’s Wild in Chico nearly 20 years ago. Since then, they have gone through many lineup changes, a few different hometowns and a lot of songs. The band is working on a number of original tunes—but, as Rippey says, original tunes pose a problem.

“Am I gonna go all original and starve or play what the clubs want?” asks Rippey in way of summing up their dilemma. “We try to do both.”

“I just want to play rock,” Schoberts says. “Old school, new school, it doesn’t matter.”

At the beginning of the second set, Rippey and Burke came out in trench coats and hats to play a medley of the Peter Gunn theme and Johnny Rivers’ “Secret Agent Man.”

“We like to do something goofy, something a little theatrical, at every show,” Burke says. “A couple of shows ago we came out in fake beards and overalls to do ‘A Man of Constant Sorrow.’ That probably accounted for the go-go dancers that got onstage near the end of the show.”

The band played from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. on that Friday at Roadhouse, with stamina many younger bands only hope to achieve. At one point late in the night, the owner of Roadhouse got up with them to take the mic on a cover of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding.”

Band members say they like to have a good time with the crowd.

“If they’re dancing, my feet never stop moving,” Libbee says, nodding her head to the jukebox after the show.

“We don’t take ourselves seriously,” Burke says. “And we don’t expect anyone else to.”

But these jokers play some seriously solid rock. They are here to entertain, they are here to rock—and they are here to have fun.