Spotlight of the Week: Jonny T-Bird & the MPs

Jonny T-Bird & the MPs are a Milwaukee blues band that have been playing soulful originality since 2009. MPs stands for Marinated Puppets! Their last record “Common Cents” came out in 2020; their new record “Play Time” will be out next Friday.

ME: How did you get involved with Wisconsin Music Ventures?

JONNY: It started a year ago…last May…when I signed myself up to host an open jam at Bottle House 42, which was put together by Wisconsin Music Ventures. It was that night where I got to meet Allison, and that was what made me want to get more involved with it.

ME: Nice. A lot of times it starts at Bottle House 42.

ME: So, Jonny T-Bird & the MPs. Who are the MPs?

JONNY: It’s not always the same band because everyone’s got their own gigs that they do. But the main MPs are our drummer Jenna Kopitske and our bassist “Cadillac” Craig Carter, and we have a new member that joined us a month ago who’ll be doing things with us this summer – Lauren Sperry on saxophone.

ME: Right on, awesome. I saw that you’re doing the CD party at Linneman’s on the 22nd.


ME: That’ll be fun. Before we talk about the new record, I wanted to ask you about your last one, “Common Cents.” Tell me a little bit about what went into it and what it means to you.

JONNY: Well, it started two years ago around December 2019 when we started recording for it. We spent a few months on it before we knew what was going to happen with the COVID pandemic. A few weeks later, the drummer I had, Marcus “MG” Gibbons – who was also the co-producer – passed away on April 1st, 2020 due to a blood clot in the leg. That was an unfortunate turn of events…it wasn’t until May when we decided to go back and finish it. We did the recordings at Guy Fiorentini’s studio in the basement of his house; Guy and I had a one-on-one meeting and he told me about Jeff Hamilton and Hamtone Audio off of Water Street, where we finished recording and doing a few more overdubs. We got it done around July.

ME: I’m sorry for your loss. My condolences.

JONNY: Thank you.

ME: Were you able to do a belated CD release show?

JONNY: I could only really do private, small concerts in my garage where we’d invite some friends over to the backyard while they were social distancing. All of them were streamed live on Facebook, and it was one of those shows where we decided to make it the CD release party. That was still a good time.

ME: Doing what you could under the circumstances.

ME: Tell me about your new record!

JONNY: Yeah, “Play Time.” I didn’t start writing the songs until late last year because I’d already put out “Common Cents” and it took time for me to get inspired to start writing again. I already had in mind Jeff Hamilton because I had such a good time during the brief visit before, and I wanted to do a full-length album there. I was lucky enough to still use my main MPs, and usually how I present new and fun ideas to them is when I record demos on my phone and just send it to them. It wasn’t until around January of this year when we did start recording, and we had a few friends join us for the horn sections.

ME: Nice, looking forward to hearing it.

ME: The last thing I had for you is, what will you be up to this summer?

JONNY: I have a full schedule of shows coming up. We’re at Summerfest again this year on Thursday, July 7th. We’ve also got a couple blues festivals lined up, like in Waukesha and Wausau. The best way to check for the rest of them would be to go on our website.

Visit Jonny T-Bird & the MPs website here.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.