Live at Lakeview is filled to the brim with great music for the sixth season at Lakeview Commons in South Lake Tahoe.
The free Thursday night shows have become the community’s summertime fun spot. This summer, old-timers will debate how the winter snowpack compares with other years. Here’s what’s certain: The drought is over, the draught beer is cold and the lake water is really, really cold.
The music series bookends with a pair of accomplished bands led by virtuoso musicians who focus on featuring their entire band rather than their individual guitar-shredding skills. The Scott Pemberton Band opened the series on June 22, and South Shore’s Wesley Orsolic Band headlines the finale on Aug. 31.
“The venue is incredible; there can’t be any other place like it anywhere” said Pemberton, who will be making his third Live at Lakeview appearance. “It’s a pleasure to be involved in such a cool community event that has all the locals coming out and hanging out together and checking out the music.”
Two bands will play each week, with the openers playing at 4:30 p.m. and the headliners at 6. There are food, craft and beer vendors. People are encouraged to walk or bicycle to the park, where there is a free bike valet. A couple of years ago, South Lake Tahoe voters elected to make parking in the neighborhood free. However, the best parking spots are across the highway at the Recreation Center on Rufus Allen Boulevard. Dogs are not permitted in the park. Complicated Animals, however, will be allowed onstage on June 29.
Lakeview Commons is at the intersection of Lake Tahoe Boulevard (Highway 50) and Lakeview Avenue, across the street from the campground. Funds to build the granite amphitheater came from a California proposition approved by voters.
Here’s a look at the 2017 lineup:
June 22 – Scott Pemberton Band with Mescalito
This Portland, Oregon, band is led by a man with a penchant for keeping the laces on his black high-top basketball shoes untied and wearing faded jeans around his skinny legs fastened at the waist by a belt buckle with the initials “S.P.” Pemberton is a hippie superhero known as the Timber Rocker. His kryptonite is a guitar strap, so he plays his ax on a stool. He jams like Jerry Garcia, is as funky as James Brown and as quick as the Rip City’s Trailblazers point guard Damian Lillard. Tahoe Onstage dubbed him “the Bruce Lee of Rock and Roll.”
Pemberton rose to fame after a pair of unforgettable performances at the High Sierra Music Festival. He last appeared at Live at Lakeview in June 2015.
Mescalito is a quintet that blends five types of music: rock, jam, soul, psychedelia and jazz. The five local all stars for the new group are Martin Bush, guitar; Simon Kurth, guitar; Lowell Wilson, keyboards; Keith Ovelmen, bass; and Chris Grant, drums. Wilson also plays with the Wesley Orsolic Band.
June 29 — Stacy Jones Band with Complicated Animals
Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Stacy Jones fronts her blues/rock/Americana band, providing high-energy performances from a home base in Seattle. Influenced by the likes of Susan Tedeschi, Bonnie Raitt, T Bone Walker, Eric Clapton and Robben Ford, the Stacy Jones Band sparkles onstage. In addition to lead vocals, Jones plays harmonica, piano/organ and guitar. The 2016 album “Whiskey, Wine and Water” (covering all the essential food groups) received Best Songwriter and Best Blues Album awards from the Washington Blues Society.
The Complicated Animals are the Brazilian and American duo of Monica da Silva and Chad Alger, featuring alternative pop laced with a Brazilian bossa nova sound, a lyrical fusion of samba and jazz that rose to popularity in the 1950s and ’60s and today is one of the best-known Brazlian genres abroad. Now based in Los Angeles, the band explains its name: “Man. The ever so complicated animal. Pondering life. Pondering art. Pondering the parallels between life and art.”
July 6 — Diego’s Umbrella with 4 Piece Puzzle
San Francisco’s ambassadors of gypsy rock, Diego’s Umbrella, captures California’s cultural multiplicity with humor, enthusiasm and decadence. They are returning performers at Live at Lakeview, along with South Lake Tahoe’s own 4 Piece Puzzle. Diego’s Umbrella delivers a lively, unforgettable, heavy-hitting stage show that has visually and aurally captivated audiences from all walks of life. These urban, gringo mariachis have performed more than 1,000 shows across the United States and Europe.
Funky 4 Piece Puzzle offers up a combo sound of jazz, roots/rock/reggae and soul, featuring Chad Lawrence on keyboards bass and vocals, Seth Hall on alto and tenor saxophones, Ryan Cassidy on guitar, lap steel, bass and stylophone, and Martin Bush on drums, with Molly Taylor often adding her talents as a singer. “Blooming from Lake Tahoe’s blossoming music community, 4 Piece Puzzle was born funky and strong and has been lighting up dance floors since its conception in 2010.”
July 13 — Afrolicious with Brothers Prince
Afrolicious band leader Joe Cheo “Pleasuremaker” McGuire describes how it feels when the band connects with its audience: “It’s an electrical charge. Time freezes. You feel weightlessness and you have total awareness. You are definitely entering the spiritual realm,” he told Tahoe Onstage. The band formed out of a Thursday night Afrolicious party at the Elbo Room in the city’s Mission District. After several years, band members began to write original material. The size of the group varies and sometimes has as many as a dozen players. North Shore guitarist Zebuel Early often joins in.
Brothers Prince are the Oakland-raised identical twin brothers Ambrose and Austin Prince. Indie soul-hop artists, they “mix the soulfulness of Musiq with the vibes of Jack Johnson, infuse the lyrical rap precision of J. Cole, then add a dash of indie rock.” Their new self-titled EP includes the song “So Musical,” which will be featured in the upcoming movie “Unleashed” starring Kate Micucci and Sean Aston.
July 20 — David Luning Band with Young Fables
David Luning is a folk/Americana/country artist with a bluesy-rock attitude. His new album, “Restless,” perhaps gives insight to the musician who dropped out of the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston to get a jump start on his career. He jokes that John Prine made him do it.
“I hadn’t heard any of his music (before Berklee),” Luning told Tahoe Onstage in a 2015 interview. “I was like, ‘holy shit,’ I gotta do this as a career.’ The only thing I can say is when I heard it, it clicked with me. It just felt real — the humor, the wit, the heartfelt lyrics. It connected with me in such a way that I knew that was what I had to do.”
North Shore music fans are familiar with Luning’s music, as he has played at Moody’s Bistro a number of times. He also opened for LOCASH last year at the Cargo Concert Hall in Reno.
The Young Fables are a Nashville-based country and Americana duo, singer Laurel Wright and guitarist Wesley Lunsford. Wright moved to Nashville as a teenager and worked her way up from a restaurant hostess to a music star, appearing as an American Idol contestant along the journey. The Young Fables have opened for the likes of Sara Evans, Randy Houser, Scotty McCreery, The Band Perry, Joe Nichols and others.
July 27 — Element of Soul with Taking Root
Element of Soul is a Northern Cali reggae/folk/pop/rock band with an original sound that carries a strong and positive message, influenced by all genres of music and life. The band is on its home turf in El Dorado County, as it calls Placerville home. Members are Mike O’Briant (vocals/guitar/bass), Benjamin Moore (vocals/guitar/keyboards), Seth Ahern aka DJ Zephr (turntables), Eric Opdyke (drums), Tristan Brown (guitar/bass) and Zack Davis (bass.)
EOS has been playing shows in the Sacramento and surrounding environs since 2009, from large concert venues to the smallest of sports bars, bringing its high energy to incite smiles, dancing, singing and laughter among concertgoers. Think Incubus, Bob Marley, Jason Mraz, Sublime, Rebelution and everything in between. Positive vibes on the beach at sunset: This won’t be a $5 reggae party (it’s free, in fact.)
Taking Root is a South Lake Tahoe band that fuses reggae, ska and classic rock. You know these guys: EJ Hixenbaugh, Drums; Warren Martineau, bass: Ryan Saunders, guitar; and Matt Ault, keyboards.
Aug. 3 — Mojo Green with Bison
Mojo Green, a talented, horn-driven band energized by front-woman Jenes Carter, will bring its funk and soul over the hill from Reno. The septet has played more than 200 shows in the past two years and also has shared its unique sound at festivals including Burning Man, Hangtown Music Festival, the Squaw Valley funk fest, For The Funk Of It and Ridgestock.
Here’s how they do it: Frank “Fletch” Fletcher on drums and Trevor Rice on bass lay down the tight grooves that create the foundation, with Tim Bain on guitar adding some tasty deep-funk rhythms and blistering lead lines, combined with the powerhouse horn section of Kevin Thomas on baritone saxophone, Monty Adams on trumpet and John Bennum on trombone, while the sultry Jenes Carter adds her soulful, spicy lead vocals.
The bluegrass band Bison roams the South Shore and beyond with dobro player Raybob Bowman, guitarist Andy Hatch, Chris Seal, guitar and vocals, Andy Hatch, mandolin and vocals, and Nate Alcorn bass and vocals.
Aug. 10 — The Sam Chase & The Untraditional with Patrick Walsh
Sam Chase & The Untraditional hail from San Francisco and treat concertgoers to some “kick-ass folk” music. Sam Chase “has a voice like a nun on the lam with a mouthful of cigarettes and curse words in a lonely bar, drunkenly dancing next to a broken jukebox.” His backing band “descended from Norse warriors known as The Beserkers. Old Norse literature and historians note that Beserkers fought with an uncontrollable, trance-like fury…” Seriously, folks, this band could sing with the choir (maybe a lively, Baptist sort of choir).
Patrick Walsh is a prolific one-man band, hailing from Placerville and often entertaining crowds in South Lake Tahoe. If something goes wrong on stage, he has no one to blame but himself. If you hear singing, guitar, drum and cymbal, harmonica and a trumpet — but see only one dude onstage — it’s probably Walsh. He’s been playing music from a young age and doing so professionally for more than a decade. Unlike most area musicians, Walsh plays exclusively original music, which he sees as part of his draw.
“Overall, I have a lot of different sounds. But some of my more hillbilly stuff just seems to make people happy and want to dance and makes little kids dance. It seems to make people feel good,” Walsh told Tahoe Onstage.
Aug. 17 — Sol Peligro with Boca do Rio
Sol Peligro literally translates to “the sun that people feel threatened by.” But the Latin-reggae nine-piece from Sacramento looks to be a bunch of nice guys, really. Founder and lead vocalist Sam Miranda is backed by Chris Blakenship (drums), Ken Rego (percussion), Cesar Mena (bass), Todd Perez (guitar), Richard Gonzalez (trumpet), Marti Sarigul-Klijn (saxophone), Tim Weiss (trumpet) and Will Scharff (keyboards). The band combines Mexican, Cumbia and reggae with a hint of alternative rock. The group writes its own material, taking on some serious issues as it does, but delivers fun-loving music with a positive message.
Ready for some Brazilian space funk? Boca do Rio is here to deliver. Born of the mixing of waters of Brazil and the San Francisco Bay Area, the band has created musica organica music that developed through the rhythm of living and working between the Americas. After a decade of performing all original music during the heyday of San Francisco’s live music scene, Boca do Rio has evolved into a multi-layered electro-funk party boat with a sound that is fluid and edgy, adaptable and free. It is is the Mission District’s longest-playing and hardest-hitting Brazilian-American band, and it has made its mark on both the north and south shores of Lake Tahoe in the past several years, delighting crowds at beachfront shows.
Aug. 24 – Selasee and The Fafa Family with VTA
Now a resident of Colorado, Selasse blends reggae, West African Highlife and American pop music. The lyrics are both English and West African. Born in Accra, Ghana, Selasse had a pop group called Makuma and then a gospel group, Heart To Heart. He immigrated to the United States and singed a record deal, releasing a solo debut album, “Run,” in 2005. After releasing another album, “African Gate,” he teamed up with original Bob Marley and the Wailers bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett for the 2015 album “Time For Peace. He’s shared the stage with the biggest stars in reggae: Steel Pulse, Barrington Levy, The Wailiers, Don Carlos, Third World, Black Uhuru and The Mighty Diamonds.
VTA is acoustic guitarist Vincenzo Thomas Amato and saxophonist Seth Hall, a duo that opened for South Shore’s Lavish Green since 2005. The Live at Lakeview show might include surprise guests. “We will play originals and covers and feel-good music,” Amato told Tahoe Onstage.
In February, Amato moved back to his hometown Reno after nearly four years in Los Angeles, where he had a club called the Salvage Bar. Amato played Thursdays at the Salvage with the band Acoustic As Folk, which included Pink Floyd saxophonist Scott Page VIDEO, Slightly Stoopid trumpeter C-Money and Beastie Boys percussionist Alfredo Ortiz. Amato formerly had a band called Super J, which toured with Fishbone and Sublime. And he is the person who put Lavish Green trumpeter Chris Sanchez onstage with Fishbone for a recent benefit concert in Hawaii.
Aug. 31 – Wesley Orsolic Band with Miki Rae and Robbie Dub
The season always concludes with local bands and crowds that seem to break the attendance mark each year. The Wesley Orsolic Band, which opened last year’s finale, will headline this time.
A few years ago, Orsolic decided to stop playing cover songs and instead record and perform his own music, with is a New Orleans’ influenced blend of jazz, funk and blues. The formula is working. The newly released, mostly instrumental album, “Front Seats,” is as loose as it is tight.
“I don’t care anymore,” Orsolic said. “I can have fun with it and my musicians can have fun with it. … If somebody says I sound like somebody else, that’s fine with me.”
Well, OK then. This band sounds something like a mix of Galactic and Lettuce … with a Croatian accent.