For the band, the opening of Squaw Valley’s Bluesdays on Tuesday was a formal affair. The creases in lead guitarist Barry Slaton’s pants where sharp enough to cut a chord, keyboardist Terry “The Secret Weapon” Ogg had a new Beatles haircut and the Italian shoes worn by singer-guitarist Chuck Dunn would have made Elmore James sing.
“We definitely feel very honored that they ask us to do it and so we always try and pull out all the stops and bring in the best we can,” said Dunn, whose band the Blues Monsters opened the summertime series for the fourth-straight year.
The Lake Tahoe region’s longest-running blues band (26 years) was joined onstage by versatile singer Kandy Xander, who belted a hip-shaking rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools.” Midway into the show, the Groove Foundry horn section – Brian “Nak” Nakagawa, Jen Campbell, Todd Mather – joined the party, also dressed to the nines.
As the musicians played a Tower of Power tune, the music stopped, perhaps someone had tripped on a power cord. The swinging, happy crowd hardly seemed to notice and moments later the tune – ironically “Don’t Change Horses (In The Middle of a Stream)” – resumed.
Now in its ninth year, Bluesdays represents summer at Squaw Valley. And after an epic winter, the packed, mostly local crowd was in a celebratory mood. After all, the sun was setting on a beautiful spring day, and it hadn’t snowed in, well, about 24 hours.
“I come here for the atmosphere and because it’s family friendly,” said Australia native and Olympic Valley resident Ivor Morrell. As he held his 8-month-old son, he said he attended every Bluesdays show last year.
Squaw Valley is dog friendly, too. At least three goldendoodles roamed The Village. A combination of a golden retriever and a poodle, the canine is as popular as Chris Cain on the Fourth of July.
The Blues Monsters are the only local band that will play Bluesdays. The rest of the schedule is filled with nationally touring artists, and the 2017 lineup that includes Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings, John Nemeth and Coco Montoya could be the most impressive in the history of the event.
Next Tuesday, it will be Dragondeer, a group from Denver, Colorado, which will play at Squaw Valley for the first time. The psych-blues band has a new album that was recorded and produced at the famed Topanga Canyon Studio. It has shared the stage with Sonny Landreth, Anders Osborne and Jarekus Singleton.
The Auld Dubliner, the restaurant and pub located directly across the stage in the Village square, provides live free music every Tuesday. The bands begin just as the Bluesdays artist wraps up the set. Next week, Eric Matlock, the former keyboardist for Jelly Bread will perform. Friends and fans will want to see Matlock, a longtime North Shore resident, because he plans to move to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in August.
- Ninth annual Bluesdays
6-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays
The Village at Squaw Valley
June 13 — Bluesdays Kickoff Party with The Blues Monsters
June 20 – Dragondeer
June 27 — Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings
July 4 — Chris Cain (plus skiing)
July 11 — Grady Champion
July 18 — Rick Estrin & The Nightcats
July 25 — Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers
Aug. 1 — John Nemeth
Aug. 8 — Anthony Gomes
Aug. 15 — Coco Montoya
Aug. 22 — Ronnie Baker Brooks
Aug. 29 — Dennis Jones Band
Sept. 5 — Mark Hummel’s Golden State Lone Star Revue, Mark Hummel, Anson Funderburgh