Mingo Fishtrap captures Memphis, New Orleans soul

Mingo Fishtrap
Mingo Fishtrap opens a weekend of funk on the North Shore with a Friday night show in the Crystal Bay Casino.

Mingo Fishtrap might be a hard name to remember but it’s easy to dance to its music.

The headliner of a blues festival last week in Mammoth Lakes, J.J. Grey, praised the band before its name escaped him. He called it “Uncle Mingo” before correcting himself later in the show.

An Austin, Texas eight-piece, Mingo Fishtrap has been around a long time, but not so much in California. It played the Monterey Jazz Festival last year and this month is crisscrossing the entire state from Arcata to Seaside to Crystal Bay for a show Friday in the Crown Room.

“We are doing our best to make the West Coast more often,” said Rog Blevins, who sings and plays guitar. We haven’t played California too much. We are trying to pick our spots where we fit in and get a toe hold and do a little more touring.”

The band plays a toe-tapping style of music that fits in almost any festival. At last weekend’s Bluesapaloosa, it played a tribute to the Stax sound from Memphis and a couple of songs by the Meters, a New Orleans funk band. It also gave a nod to music from Muscle Shoals, Ala.

“If I have to answer it, I would say it’s a soul band, Blevins said. “My heart lies with Memphis and New Orleans music. That’s what I grew up on, so that’s what I bring to it. But that’s a big band. There are a lot of influences.

“I call it a soul band because the basic building blocks are there: the horns and the organ and the driving beat. We’re not trying to copy anything but were not trying to actively break new ground either. We love that sound as a collective. We love soul music in all of its incarnations so we are trying to do our best to be a part of that world.”

Of course, Blevins’ greatest influence is his father, Roger Blevins Sr., who is from New Orleans and plays bass in the band.

“I was lucky because my pop was playing all the stuff when I was growing up,” Blevins said. “So it was part of the daily language.”

Mike Urdy is Mingo Fishtrap’s percussionist, Chip Vayenes plays drums. Dan Farnsworth is on keyboards. The horn section is Zol Waterhouse, Steve “the B” Butts and Dan “Peanut Butter” Bechdolt.

The nickname Peanut Butter is not because the saxophone player goes well with jams. “It’s because he’s smooth and creamy,” Blevins said.

Mingo Fishtrap

Opener: Terraplane (Tahoe City funk)

When: 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9

Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room

Cover: free

Red Room after-party: Funky Miracle (Meters tribute)

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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