Tahoe City is a town that likes to party. With many events for visitors and locals, they continue to kick it up to the next level, which, in this case, is a celebration aboard the enchanting “Tahoe Gal” featuring music, food and festivities. At the musical helm for the event is the ultimate party band, Mumbo Gumbo.
Known for diversity, this band blends many genres, from rock to soul, Afro pop to lush balladry, zydeco to country, into a celebratory, danceable noise. With a heavy New Orleans base, they layer their sound with cumbias, Afro-Cuban rhythms, country waltzes and edgy blues-rock plus additional elements of Tex-Mex, West Indian and African music. It’s a musical gumbo, combining many elements into one auditory stew. Adding seasoning are beautiful harmonies and superb melodies.
Mumbo Gumbo has created something that is less a specific style than a particular feeling — the sound of sheer joy. Or, as one of the band’s songs puts it, “that big life feeling.”
Gumbo elevates itself with the dynamic duo of singer/songwriters Chris Webster and Tracy Walton. These dazzling darlings are responsible for the majority of vocals and writing. Webster’s laid-back style is perfectly complimented by Walton, with her warm, inviting smile and honey-sweetened voice. Completing the package is a group whose individual chops are world-class and anchored by one of the longest-lived rhythm sections in Northern California: drummer Rick Lotter and bassist Lynn Michael Palmer (who formed the band with Webster 20 years ago), sax man Reggy Marks, guitarist Jon Wood and keyboardist Steve Stizzo.
For Mumbo Gumbo, it starts with the songs. Moving back and forth between Webster’s sly, sometimes melancholy explorations of romance and individuality and Walton’s ebullient, unabashed celebrations of family and commitment, Gumbo weaves a rich tapestry of sound and sensibility that transcends genre. In addition, lyrically the group has shown that they can turn quite the colorful, and often humorous, phrase.
Over the years, they have developed a connection with their audience always leaving them dancing and smiling. Gumbo’s packed shows are full of surprises, superb musical teamwork and spontaneous interaction.
“We’ve got a different way of defining success. We have been able to be pretty happy because we balance our work with our personal lives and try to reflect who we are as people rather than where somebody wants us to go in the industry,” says Lotter.
And, Webster sums it up even better. “We choose music and happiness.”
With so many years of gigging and recording under its belt, Gumbo is the real thing — enduring, richly melodic, deeply emotional and funky as can be. It’s the sound of seven people unafraid to open their hearts, trying something new and doing it with style.
Mumbo Gumbo plays aboard the “Tahoe Gal,” which will be moored off Commons Beach in Tahoe City from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $100, but music lovers may join in the fun for free as a boater, kayaker or paddleboarder, creating a cultural flotilla around the boat. For more information, call (530) 583-3348 or e-mail [email protected] For information on Mumbo Gumbo, visit mumbogumbo.com.
Sunday, June 16 | 5:30 p.m. | $100 | All ages | Aboard the “Tahoe Gal” | Tahoe City, Calif.