For the entertainment junkie, summer is the equivalent of mainlining. Five nights of free music makes for a plentiful summer and, this year, in addition to the usual suspects, there are some new acts to keep the scene fresh and the season something to look forward to. With the most spectacular scenery to set the stage, this summer’s line up promises a sensational season to be remembered. The price is right, so it’s time to make summer a social event.
Joe Bagale is one of the most original and creative artists of his generation, pushing the envelope of what we know as pop music. His compositions are a blend of old-school funk/R&B mixed with the sounds of late 60s/70s rock and topped off with a jazz avant-garde influence, coming together to create a style entirely all his own at Truckee Thursdays on June 27.
Joy & Madness, appearing in Tahoe City on June 30, is a band of soul brothers pulled together from the ashes of The Nibblers, a Sacramento-based funk and soul phenomenon in 2011 and 2012. Riding the lightning of bright blasts of horns and jumped up rhythm, lead singer Hans Eberbach and five other members of The Nibblers united to form Joy & Madness. With a renewed focus and an abiding love for funk music, this group is jumping head, heart, hips and feet back into the hot spotlight of full funk.
Leche de Tigre, from Kona, Hawaii, brings that earthy, spicy, sexy, sunny festival feel with world, Latin, gypsy, funky music. The 10-piece band of vocals, guitars, percussion, cello and trumpet is often laced with rock influences and the band’s sound relies on percussive grooves and the melodic impact of acoustic guitars to engage the audience. This musically adventurous and jovial group explores exotic flavors of Latin, gypsy jazz, rock, Afro-Cuban and classical styles to Concerts on Commons Beach on July 7.
The Easy Leaves deliver a modern acoustic sound, its roots kept close to the chest while tirelessly sprawling out in new directions that stretch the borders of the Americana genre in exciting ways. The sound is a personal distillation of American music, melodic, lyric-driven compositions with dynamic intricate vocal harmonies in downtown Truckee on July 18.
Flannel Fish is a five-piece that collectively shares a diverse interest in music. Their styles range from Americana and Blues to Metal and all musical aspects in between performing at Music on the Beach on Aug. 2.
Eddie Roberts’ West Coast Sounds is soul jazz guitar maestro Eddie Roberts’ new endeavor. The Welsh native’s guitar playing is always visceral and funky. Shades of influence from Grant Green and the Meters’ Leo Nocentelli show up rough and ready to rip in Tahoe City on Aug. 4.
David Luning is a singer/songwriter who plays guitar, piano and harmonica, combining a variety of genres including Americana, folk, country and rock. Luning’s music is original, real and fun, and tells a great story. His voice is rich and full with a gritty, joyful, soulful piece of Americana at Truckee Thursdays on Aug. 8.
Albert Castiglia will blow you away at the Village at Squaw on Aug. 13 with his technical prowess on guitar and his musical sensibilities. He does some beautiful acoustic work along with hard-hitting electric pieces. Delivering contemporary blues at its finest, with an old-school approach, Castiglia chooses a more traditional, restrained approach to his guitar playing to match his classic, unequalled blues vocal style.
The Novelists, with multiple lead singers, have built their sound around storytelling and four-part harmonies. The harmonies are infused into a backdrop of pop folk highlighted by collaborative artistry, creative melodies and songwriting filled with imaginative storytelling in downtown Truckee on Aug. 15.
Joe Craven Trio is a power trio of keyboards, key bass, drums, fiddle, mandolin, found sound and vocals. A surprisingly full sound for a party of three, they pay tribute to traditional American folk, blues, New Orleans, swing and funk, as well as the music of Brazil, Haiti, Ireland, Cuba and Puerto Rico. The music is crisp, tight and full of groove. The addition of 11 year-old Hattie Craven to the mix brings a remaking of popular songs of jazz, Americana, reggae, Latin and other roots music at Concerts on Commons Beach on Aug. 18.
Nikki Hill always sings her ass off. With a filtered energy, they take all the flavors of American roots music, prompting hints of vintage soul, blues and R&B to deliver a sound that reminds us all why we love rock ‘n’ roll. Hill’s gritty and raw voice combine with driving guitar and a tight rhythm section pushes it to the next level at the Village at Squaw on Aug. 27.
Aaron Oropeza is the essential contemporary folk rock musician. Alone with his guitar describing his understanding of the moments as they overtake us, his simple man approach drowns his soul in the audiences empathy at the Locals Showcase on Aug. 29 at Truckee Thursdays.
Afrolicious, appearing on June 20 at Truckee Thursdays, offers a broad appreciation of groove-oriented music from around the globe, and the people and cultures this music is derived from. The infectious mix of tropical and electronic beats, drummers musicians, remixes and seductive dance floor stands out by including original material, percussionists, dubbed out effects, live remixing of classic funk, disco, Afrobeat, Latin, electronic and polyrhythmic grooves that derive from the funky Afro-diaspora.
Musical road warrior Mark Hummel is a true blues survivor. Along the way, he has crafted his own trademark harmonica sound – a subtle combination of tone, phrasing and attack combined with a strong sense of swing. It is evident that Hummel has a passion for the blues. And, if you like a mix of Chicago blues, West Coast Jump and New Orleans rock ‘n’ roll, chances are Hummel is your man at Village at Squaw on July 9. Special guest Little Charlie Baty, fused with his extensive knowledge of blues and swing, provides a unique guitar voice in the gypsy style.
Jeff Jones and his latest band, The Bank, present an intriguing blend of loose, R&B-tinged blues-rock topped off by stellar slide guitar skills and strong, slightly hoarse vocals. The combination yields originals with Southern rock roots, grooves, scorching slide guitar, vintage keyboards, funky beats and lyrics that dig in deep on July 11 in downtown Truckee.
Sneaky Creatures is a mischievous alt-country quartet that doles out an unusual blend of the folksy and the jazzy, the gypsy and the honky, the funky and the rockabilly on July 12 at Music on the Beach and Aug. 1 at Truckee Thursdays.
Digging deep into the roots of American music, The California Honeydrops embrace the traditions of blues, gospel, second line New Orleans Jazz, and early R&B. With stellar performances of traditional material, as well as their own innovative music, The California Honeydrops bring an irresistible sound that blends the energy and intimacy of a street performance and the soul and fervor of a spiritual street parade in Tahoe City on July 14.
David Jacobs-Strain is a fierce slide guitar player known for both his virtuosity and spirit of emotional abandon. His live show moves from humorous, subversive blues, to delicate balladry and then swings back to swampy rock ‘n’ roll. With The Crunk Mountain Boys, he will be laying down three-part harmonies and stomping out some dirty blues on July 16 in the Village at Squaw.
Janiva Magness is one of today’s most talented and recognized blues and roots vocalists. A three-decade darling of the blues genre, her vocal prowess and performance is the best of the genre. Although her vocals are at times beautiful, she is best known for her sauciness and the bold, brazen beauty of her performances in the Village at Squaw on July 23.
Hard-rocking blues-soaked guitarist/vocalist/song-writer Tinsley Ellis sings and plays with the energy and soul of all the great Southern musicians who have come before him. Ellis attacks his music with rock power and blues feeling and his live shows feature extended fretwork filled with melodic and rhythmic experimentation on July 30 at Squaw Valley.
Keyser Soze blends ska, dub, dancehall, soul, punk, hip-hop, funk, Latin and jazz. The band features solid musicianship and writing from five talented young artists and their stage antics always keep the performances on the edge at the Aug. 1 Truckee Thursdays.
The Northstar Session keeps it breezy with its catchy, straightforward pop rock. Influenced heavily by the rock ‘n’ roll sound that was emanating from Hollywood and the surrounding areas in the 60s and 70s, this group delivers pop melodies with creative harmonies on Aug. 16 in Kings Beach.
Mojo Green brings a mix of tight pocket grooves. Crackling horns and an Afrobeat inflected fusion of jazz, jam and funk, with melodic guitar interplay and wicked leads make Mojo Green a musical monster of funk ‘n’ roll at Music on the Beach on July 26 and at Truckee Thursdays on Aug. 22.
Terraplane makes its way into the summer concert circuit on Aug. 30 at Music on the Beach. This local troupe brings the right mix of funk, jazz and groove that will have you dancing and movin’ in a constant flow.
Peter Joseph Burtt and King Tide combine elements of West African melody and rhythm with funky blues and American folk at three venues this summer – June 13 at Truckee Thursdays, July 3 at the Truckee Amphitheater and July 5 at Music on the Beach. Burtt draws from many sources and chronicles the years that he spent living and studying with master musicians of Africa.
Jelly Bread serves up roots, rock, blues and funk at the Truckee Amphitheater on June 19 and at Truckee Thursdays on July 25. This band has a booty-shaking sound steeped in roots, wallowing in funk and marinated in soul, mixing roots, rock, reggae, gospel, blues and funk into a seamless fusion. With meaningful real and sometimes painful lyrics blending lush vocal harmonies and funk filled rootsy grooves, Jelly Bread gives a breath of musical fresh air with its signature sound.
Trey Stone was a behind the scenes pioneer of the 70s soul funk explosion. He delivers a rich mix of who play blues, funk and R&B at Commons Beach on June 23.
The Deckheads bring music that is a combination of country rock, alternative rock, Jimmy Buffett and originals and they are known for their stage presentation with a country Caribbean theme at Truckee Amphitheater on June 26.
Chris Cain kicks off Bluesdays Tuesdays at Squaw on July 2 one more time. His jazz-tinged, blues soaked guitar and deep, warm vocals have the maturity and authenticity of bluesmen many years his senior. Through his guitar mastery and remarkable songwriting ability, Cain has established himself as a musical force to be reckoned with.
Everyone’s favorite, The Blues Monsters, is usually always in at least one of the summer concert series. The quintet has been on the scene for several years and is consistent in their delivery of classic, as well as original blues tunes along with some rock and Motown at the Truckee Amphitheater on July 10.
Downbeat is known for its melting pot of funk, soul and jazz. The group, playing on July 17 at the Truckee Amphitheater, creates flat-out funky grooves inspired by the soulful sounds of late 60s and 70s jazz greats. Live performances feature thick harmonies, tight break beats and infectious grooves.
Tracorum blurs the line between rock ‘n’ roll, soul, Caribbean, R&B, Latin, New Orleans and funk, coining the self described term for their band’s sound as rock ‘n’ soul music. Steeped in traditional roots music, the band has continued to create a positively unique sound at Music on the Beach on July 19.
Monophonics, at Commons Beach on July 21, bring a unique blend of old school soul/funk and rare groove with their organic, seven-piece funk outfit that sends the dance floor into a fury with their horn section that never disappoints. This group has become the hottest funk band in the Bay Area with their retro sound, style and approach stemming from the late 60s and Moonalice is a far-flung tribe of musicians who all want to play bass deliver a culture based on groove. The band plays an intoxicating brew of roots, blues, psychedelia and strange, but kind, folk on July 24 at the Truckee Amphitheater.
Vinyl is a finely honed machine. They can alternately sound like the best live funk, Latin, reggae or dub band and, occasionally, all at the same time. The infectious music of Vinyl blends old-school funk, Latin percussion, reggae and R&B into signature instrumental grooves and induces notoriously high-energy dance parties that unite fans of many musical styles on July 28 at Concerts on Commons Beach.
Drop Theory mixes it up at the Truckee Amphitheater on July 31 with choice covers and dynamic originals featuring tight arrangements, body-shakin’ grooves and high-energy solos. Whether they’re covering groups ranging from old-school R&B artists to modern rock bands, 70s fusion ensembles to 90s acid jazz groups, these Tahoe locals make sure to put a bit of funk in it all.
Jimmy Thackery, appearing on Aug. 6 at Tuesdays Bluesdays, has carved a unique niche in the blues landscape by developing and honing a style that’s equal parts traditional blues and electrified, blues-rock. Armed with fiery guitar chops, a growling vocal attack and a lean, but powerful, bass-and-drum backup unit known as The Drivers, Thackery has criss-crossed the blues circuit with a multi-layered style that pays homage to every spectrum of the blues experience.
For the past 20 years, Jo Mama has been playing a string of laidback tunes, from blues to funk and mixing it with hot salsa and rock ’n’ roll. Fronted by master guitarist Paul Covarelli, this longtime local favorite is a sure bet at the Truckee Amphitheater on Aug. 7.
Heavy soul, hip-hop beats and conscious lyrics is the modus operandi of Mama’s Cookin’. This band’s sole objective is to create music that moves and they know how to rock while keeping the soul alive in their music at Aug. 9 at Music on the Beach.
Sacramento band Mumbo Gumbo offers heavily New Orleans-flavored music with a mix of cumbias, Afro-Cuban rhythms, country waltzes and edgy blues-rock. Along with some Tex-Mex, West Indian and African music, rock, folksy sounding ballads and some killer rhythm and blues they always deliver a winning musical stew on Aug. 11 in Tahoe City.
One Track Mind brings roots rock ‘n’ roll with a twist, blending its original tunes with a shot of rock to the Truckee Amphitheater on Aug. 14. Lead vocalist Kandy Xander knows how to rock and drives the band with her powerhouse vocals cranking out rock ‘n’ roll with a twist of blues, funk, country, punk, soul and reggae.
Studebaker John, one of the most talented and versatile artists in the blues world, is equally good at slide guitar and harp and appears Aug. 20 at Squaw Valley. A modern blues musician who writes songs today that are reminiscent of years past, he is a long-time veteran of the Chicago blues scene.
Montaña, another local favorite, is comprised of A-list musicians in the area. This Latin beats group is dedicated to recreating the sounds of Santana coming to the Truckee Amphitheater on Aug. 21.
The McCoy Tyler Band delivers songs that are refreshingly lucid, rootsy and at times downright danceable on Aug. 23 in Kings Beach. Rooted deep in the customs of American folk music, this group seeks to pay homage to such traditions while incorporating their own unique style of lyricism, instrumentation and performance.
SambaDá returns to Commons Beach on Aug. 25 with their mixture of samba, capoeira music, funk, reggae and hip-hop. SambaDá draws from the percussion-based styles of South and Central America and blends it with that good old funk and reggae to create a mix that is playful, vital and energetic.
The final Wednesday concert at the Truckee Amphitheater again belongs to Déjà Vu on Aug. 28. They are known keeping the mood light with unique and provocative selections of classic rock and oldies.
Blues Callin’ is a group of local seasoned musicians with a deep connection to the blues and a solid groove that inspires dance. They are heavily influenced by the 70s blues/rock bands and have created a true modern blues/rock sound appearing at the Locals Showcase on Aug. 29 at Truckee Thursdays.
For Labor Day weekend, The Locals Last Waltz is up again on Sept. 1 in Tahoe City, recreating the legendary final performance of The Band. Local bands King High Tide, Downbeat, Littlepine and The Beer Gardeners come together to celebrate the music The Band played on that November night 35 years ago.
Closing the Commons Beach series on Sept. 8 will be the North Tahoe Jazz Band and The Beer Gardeners with their slightly irreverent set of bluesy boogie rock originals and unauthorized b-side covers, along with their Peanuts party-band antics.
This year there is enough diversity to keep you going all summer long. For the gluttonous, additional hot spots like Jason’s Sand Bar and River Grill afford you more free music while sipping a cold one. Both offer music three to four nights a week. This summer there is no such thing as too much.
Concerts on Commons Beach
Tahoe City, Sundays, 4 p.m.
June 23 (3 p.m.) |Trey Stone
June 30 | Joy & Madness
Aug.11 | Mumbo Gumbo
Aug.25 | Samba Da’
Sept. 1 (3 p.m.) | Locals Last Waltz featuring King High Tide, Downbeat, Littlepine, The Beer Gardeners
Sept. 8 (3 p.m.) | NT Jazz Band & The Beer Gardeners
Village at Squaw, 6 p.m.
July 2 | Chris Cain
July 23 | Janiva Magness
Aug. 6 | Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers
Aug. 20 | Studebaker John & The Hawks
Aug. 27 | Nikki Hill
Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m.
June 19 | Jelly Bread
June 26 | Deckheads
July 3 | Peter Joseph Burtt & The King Tide
July 10 | The Blues Monsters
July 17 | Downbeat
July 24 | Moonalice
July 31 | Drop Theory
Aug. 7 | Jo Mama
Aug. 14 | One Track Mind
Aug. 21 | Montaña
Aug. 28 | Déjà Vu
Downtown Truckee, 5 p.m.
June 13 | Peter Joseph Burtt & The King Tide
June 20 | Afrolicious
June 27 | Joe Bagale
July 11 | Jeff Jones and The Bank
July 18 | The Easy Leaves
July 25 | Jelly Bread
Aug. 1 | Keyser Soze with Sneaky Creatures
Aug. 8 | David Luning
Aug. 15 | The Novelists
Aug. 22 | Mojo Green
Aug. 29 | Locals Showcase featuring Aaron Oropeza Ensemble, Blues Callin’, Downbeat, Drop Theory
Music on the Beach
Kings Beach Plaza, Fridays, 6:30 p.m.
July 5 | Peter Joseph Burtt & The King Tide
July 12 | Sneaky Creatures
July 19 | Tracorum
July 26 | Mojo Green
Aug. 2 | Flannel Fish
Aug. 9 | Mama’s Cookin’
Aug. 16 | The Northstar Session
Aug. 23 | McCoy Tyler Band
Aug. 30 | Terraplane