Bluesdays: Chris Cain is next

Kenny Neal
Kenny Neal makes his second Bluesdays appearance on Sept. 6.
Photo by Dusty Scott / Blind Pig Records

The Village at Squaw Valley is creating a blues monster, and that’s just the first week.

After starting as a two-month midsummer stint, the Tuesday summertime concert series called Bluesdays now runs from June to September. A 13-show lineup was announced today, opening June 14 with Lake Tahoe’s own Blues Monsters and concluding Sept. 6 with Kenny Neal, certainly one of the best-known artists to ever appear at Bluesdays.

The free shows are from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and feature food and drink vendors, along with all of the Village restaurants and shops.

Here’s a quick look and what many will consider Bluesdays’ greatest lineup:

  • The Blues Monsters, June 14. The only Tahoe band to ever appear at Bluesdays, the Blues Monsters include Chuck Dunn, Tom Barnes, Barry Slayton and Michael Overhauser. The lead singer-guitarist is the host of “Chuckie Dunn’s Choose Blues” show on KTKE 101.5 Truckee Tahoe Radio, a sponsor of the weekly concert.
  • Davy Knowles, June 21. The only time Davy Knowles has appeared at Tahoe was in 2009 when his Back Door Slam band opened at Harveys for Chickenfoot. Knowles is a guitar virtuoso from the Isle of Man. He’s been embraced by jam fans but blues has been Knowles’ favorite style since he was a teenager and saw Robert Cray.

    Carolyn Wonderland
  • Carolyn Wonderland, June 28. The Austin-based artist is a fiery redheaded guitarist who’s also apt to whip out her trumpet for a song or two.
  • Chris Cain, July 5. The San Jose-based bluesman has played at Bluesdays more than any other artist. He’s trained in jazz and is one of the region’s most respected musicians by his peers. His baritone vocals almost sound like B.B. King’s, and his guitar chops are second to none.
  • Shawn Holt & the Teardrops, July 12. Guitarheads may notice that Shawn Holt plays with a thumb pick and with no pedals, reminding fans of Magic Slim & the Teardrops. Holt is, in fact, the son of Magic Slim. He started Shawn Holt & the Teardrops in 2013 after the death of his father, who told him to keep the Teardrops together. He won a 2014 Blues Music Award for Best New Artist Debut.
  • J.C. Smith Band, July 19. Blue lovers will remember J.C. Smith from a recent appearance at the Eldorado Brews & Blues Festival in Reno. Like Coco Montoya and David Grohl, Smith was a drummer before stepping out front with a guitar. He plays amplified Chicago blues and his band includes a full horn section. Smith has shared the stage with Hubert Sumlin, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Buddy Miles, Son Seals, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Pinetop Perkins.
  • Dennis Jones Band, July 26. An absolute beast of a guitarist, Dennis Jones also is a brilliant songwriter. The Los Angeles-based artist has made one Crystal Bay Casino appearance in the Crown Room, opening for Mike Piazza. The highly acclaimed 2016 album “Both Sides of the Track” demonstrates his love for the rock side of blues. Do not miss this one.
  • Lloyd Jones, Aug. 9. The Portland, Oregon, bluesman is hardly a household name, yet he’s written songs that have been recorded by Gatemouth Brown, Joe Louis Walker and Coco Montoya. Perhaps Jones’ biggest fan is Delbert McClinton, who takes him on his Sandy Beaches Cruise every year. He plays swampy rhythm and blues.
  • Joe Louis Walker, Aug. 16. Although Joe Louis Walker lives in the Bay Area, this will be the Blues Hall of Famer’s first Tahoe appearance in more than a decade. He’s had a long career that surged in recent years with a number of outstanding records on the Alligator label. It’s hard to believe Walker will be playing a show that has no cover charge. He is the recipient of the 2016 Blues Music Award for Contemporary Blues Male Artist.
  • James Armstrong, Aug. 23. His guitar style changed after he was stabbed in his hand, his label is Catfish Records and he been in bands that were fronted by Big Joe Turner and Albert Collins. Yes, James Armstrong is true blues. The 59 year old has played with and been compared to Joe Louis Walker. His songs have been featured in three movies.
  • Chris Cain
    Chris Cain has played every season of Bluesdays.

    Mark Hummel Band featuring Little Charlie Baty and Anson Funderburgh, Aug. 30. This is jump blues and old time rock and roll. And while the bandleader may play harmonica, incredible guitar will still be featured. Little Charlie is best known for his time with harpist Rick Estrin in the band Little Charlie and the Nightcats. Funderburgh, who played with Eric Lindell in a show last summer at Moe’s Original Bar B Que, is a Texas gunslinger that used to play in the Fabulous Thunderbirds. In addition to Hummel, Funderburgh has played with harmonica players Sam Myers and John Nemeth.

  • Kenny Neal, Sept. 6. Don’t let the wide smile and amiable personality fool you. When you shake Neal’s giant meat hook of a hand, you are greeted by the toughest man in the blues. Everyone in Neal’s huge family from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a professional musician. Neal lived for a few years in the Bay Area near Stanford Hospital where he kicked Hepatitis C. He’s acted on Broadway and has won every blues award imaginable. A harmonica and guitar player, Neal will be joined on the bandstand by brothers Kyree, Frederick and Darnell Neal, and drummer Bryan Morris.
  • Bluesdays 2016
    6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays in the Village at Squaw Valley, free
    June 14 – The Blues Monsters
    June 21 – Davy Knowles
    June 28 – Carolyn Wonderland
    July 5 – Chris Cain
    July 12 – Shawn Holt & the Teardrops
    July 19 – J.C. Smith Band
    July 26 – Dennis Jones Band
    August 2 – David Jacobs Strain
    August 9 -Lloyd Jones
    August 16 – Joe Louis Walker
    August 23 -James Armstrong
    August 30 – Mark Hummel Band ft. Little Charlie Baty, & Anson Funderburgh
    September 6 – Kenny Neal

    Little Charlie, Mark Hummel
    Little Charlie Baty, left, and Mark Hummel at Bluesdays.
    Tahoe Onstage image by Tim Parsons


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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