Leslie Schultz may be small in stature but she has made a giant impact on the music scene at South Lake Tahoe. Now that the sixth Live at Lakeview concert series has concluded, she’s moving to Nashville, Tennessee.
“She’s leaving a big void, that’s for sure,” said Rob Guistina, Shultz’s partner at On Course Events, which presents the free live shows every summertime Thursday at Lakeview Commons.
Soon after the California proposition-funded park and granite amphitheater was completed, Giustina, a music promoter, mulled the idea of a concert series. At that time, he and Schultz collaborated on a rail-jam event.
“I didn’t know if people would even show up for concerts (at Lakeview Commons),” he recalled. “Leslie said, ‘Sure they will.’ ”
When 1,000 attended one of the early Live at Lakeview shows, they both laughed.
With its casinos, celebrity golf tournament, fireworks and major concerts, South Shore is a summer tourist destination. Live at Lakeview is a community gathering, and with its high visibility along Highway 50, out-of-town visitors are turning out, too.
Live at Lakeview might be considered a legacy for the 29-year-old Schultz, a “Barton (Hospital) baby,” whose only time away from home has been when she studied business and marketing at college in Monterey and San Luis Obispo.
“Tahoe is my hometown and I love it here,” Schultz said. “This is a big, scary decision. But in order for more growth, I need to push myself out of this comfort zone.”
The time to make a move now is right, she said, because “I’m young and don’t have any big attachments, no kids, no husband.”
She also goes to Nashville, dubbed “Music City,” with no job or place to live. She said she is heading South with experience and success in risky business ventures. “I trust my gut,” she said.
Giustina is confident in his On Course Events partner.
“Leslie took on all my stuff like a sponge,” he said. “She fast tracked. She has good attention to detail, she’s diligent, committed and, most of all, passionate.”
Schultz has booked the music at Live at Lakeview with an emphasis on variety. Each season, the community can expect to hear reggae, Americana, blues, world, funk, Latin and rock. The final show is performed by Tahoe bands.
On Thursday, Live at Lakeview’s 62nd show opened with a stage full of locals. Miki Rae and Robbie Dub are a duo who attend Douglas High School. They were backed by homegrown drummer E.J. Hixenbaugh and Lavish Green band members saxophonist Seth Hall and bassist Rob Wheeler (the father of Robbie “Dub” Wheeler). Giustina played with Lavish Green during the band’s first years in the 1990s. The group’s 20-year run went on hiatus this year after frontman Chris Sanchez moved to Hawaii.
The Wesley Orsolic Band headlined the finale. The jazz, funk and soul quartet is impressive for the musicianship of its personnel. Lowell Wilson plays keyboards, “local celebrity” and longtime instructor Liz Broscoe is on drums and Reuben Thompson, who played with Prince when he lived in Minnesota, is on bass. Orsolic is a prolific songwriter who has released a couple of acclaimed albums in recent years and is an outstanding guitarist.
There were sound issues with Wilson’s keyboard during the band’s opening set. But that was all cleared up for a rousing second set, which seemed to draw even more people. Several uninhibited dancers in front of the stage were suddenly joined by a mass of enthusiastic hip shakers, and the band rocked well into the evening. Orsolic, unusually animated and inspired by the crowd response, stood at the front of the stage and jammed, finishing with the Led Zeppelin riff on the song “Heartbreaker.”
Meanwhile, a litany of friends met with Schultz to wish her well, including her mother, Marcia Schultz.
“She’s going to soar like an eagle, but I’ll miss her terribly,” she said.
Leslie Schultz, however, won’t be entirely out of the scene. She wants to continue to book the Live at Lakeview shows, hoping to attend some, as well. She’s also leaving her snowboard gear in Tahoe.
“I’ll be around,” she said. “You’ll just see less of me.”