Bluesman Jake Nielsen: Tahoe’s comeback kid

Jake Nielsen

Rock star shit: Jake Nielson is returning to Lake Tahoe.
Tim Parsons/ Tahoe Onstage

All roads lead to Tahoe and Reno these days for Santa Cruz blues guitarist Jake Nielsen.

Following up on a stunning debut performance in January at Harrah’s Tuesday Night Blues with the hosting Buddy Emmer Blues Band, Nielsen, accompanied this time by his Triple Threat crew, headed to familiar territory Saturday at Whiskey Dick’s Saloon in South Shore — but not before playing an afternoon gig on the coast at the Surf Spot in Pacifica.

That’s sea level to 6,213 feet at the Sierra Tract pub. Next week, Triple Threat will do it all over again, with a Tuesday show in San Luis Obispo and a 4/20 performance the next day in Reno, the band’s first appearance in The Biggest Little City in the World.

No sweat, Nielsen said: “Rock star shit.”

In Reno, folks can expect to hear some funky rock-infused reggae in addition to hard-driving blues from Jake Nielsen’s Triple Threat. Nielsen is backed by Cousin Dave on bass and Kyle Talty on drums. Lizano, on its hometown turf of Reno/Tahoe, opened the Whiskey Dick’s show.

There are a lot of Lizanos in Lizano — Jay on guitar and vocals, Sal on guitar, and Evan on bass, with drummer Mike keeping the beat. The band is built on “reggae, ska, funk and love.” The two groups played recent shows together at the Boom Boom Room in San Francisco and The Stork Club in Oakland.  They will co-headline a Four Twenty celebration Wednesday night at the Studio on 4th in Reno.

“It will be awesome,” said Nielsen, who’s been trying to expand his horizon to the re-emerging boom town. “We’re ready to rock in Reno.”

On May 10, Nielsen will make his second appear at Tuesday Night Blues, a showcase event held each week at Harrah’s Center Stage. It features top regional and national blues players, typically guitartists, performing with the talented Buddy Emmer Blues Band.

“I had a blast,” Nielsen said of his January visit to the casino spotlight. “I had a great time just watching (Emmer’s band open) and then getting up and playing. It’s great to be back — I’m stoked.”

Seasoned blues fans in the audience were impressed with the young bluesman, as was the hosting bandleader.

At the show’s conclusion, Emmer introduced the musicians in his own band and then gave props to his visitor: “Jake Nielsen — he’ll be back!”


About Randy Hashagen

Tahoe Onstage copy chief Randy Hashagen, a former Bay Area journalist, walked away from his career to become a crazy cab driver. He's still barnstorming, but his wing-walking days are over. Lately, he has been watching the world flow through Lake Tahoe since 2012.

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