Some longtime favorites along with some rising newcomers will be featured at 12 shows this summer at Bluesdays in the Village of Palisades Tahoe.
The free Tuesday event from 6 to 8:30 p.m. is slated to be held from June 14 through Aug. 30. Each show from the nationally touring bands is one to savor, especially considering the tumultuous times. The 2020 season was wiped out by the Coronavirus and the 2021 season was shortened by the heavy smoke and threat of wildland fires.
“We are excited to bring back three out of the four acts that were unfortunately unable to perform last year due to smoke and welcome three new acts to the Bluesdays stage,” said Caroline Ross, the executive director of the Palisades Village Neighborhood Company.
Bring your own chair and enjoy a beverage at the Blues Bar. Village food offerings include Tremigo, Dubliner, Fireside, 22 Bistro and new this year, Sun Bowl offering up Poke and Acai Bowls, coffee and baked goods.
There will be a discounted Tuesday lodging starting at $159 a night. LINK
Here’s a look at the bands:
June 14 — The Blues Monsters
Last appearance: 2021
Like bluebird ski days in wintertime, golden-yellow quaking aspen foliage in fall, a colorful show with the Blues Monsters to open summer’s Bluesdays season is a Lake Tahoe tradition.
Now in its 31st year, the Blues Monsters have kicked off all 12 years of Bluesdays. It’s the only local band to be included in the weekly event in The Village of Palisades Tahoe.
The Groove Monster Horns – Jen Campbell, Brian “Nak” Nakagawa and Todd Mather – are now permanent members of the band. Guests singers for the opening show are Kandy Xander, Matt Reardon and Kendal Naughton.
“The Blues Monsters, Kandy and Kendal all have new songs,” said guitarist and lead singer Chuck Dunn. “You need to dedicate to it if the presentation is to be good even after 31 years. You have to rehearse and stay up on your chops.”
Dunn’s duds are always a fashionable topic. This time, he will have a Texas blueman’s motif, yet we have first-hand knowledge that the sharp-dressed man has not grown a ZZ Top beard.
Tom Barnes (bass), Barry Slayton (guitar), Michael Overhauser (drums) and Steve Kershiznic (keys) will fill the new stage, which was installed at the Village midway into the shortened 2021 season.
June 21– Chris Cain
Last appearance: 2021
“That little gig at Squaw Valley has been one of the real joys of my playing days,” Chris Cain said. “I’ve never played anywhere where everybody’s so happy. My band is like a bunch of flowers and if you put water on them, they just bloom. Those folks there are just so receptive to stuff. My band just played their brains out when they’d go there.”
Cain is beloved by Bluesdays-goers, as well. He’s played the event more than any other artist.
He’s been making records for 35 years, with his 15th, “Raisin’ Cain,” perhaps being the most critically acclaimed. Numerous critics put “Raisin’ Cain” on its Top 10 list for best blues albums of 2021, including MOJO magazine, which had it at No. 3. In May, Cain won International Songwriting Competition for Blues for his song “I Believe I Got Off Cheap.”
His touring band also is the studio band. It has keyboardist Greg Rahn, bassist Steve Evans and drummer Sky Garcia. Greaseland Studio’s Kid Andersen produced the record in San Jose.
Cain can play almost any instrument, and he plays keys on four of the album’s songs. His keen ears are the result of growing up in a happy musical household, which is described in the autobiographical “Born To Play.” He was 3 when he saw B.B. King for the first time.
“As a teenager, I was a nut,” Cain said. “Everybody else was getting laid and driving and stuff. And I was locked in a room totally destroying my records.”
Cain lives in Copperopolis in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
June 28 — Mark Hummel Band’s Night at the Fillmore.
Last appearance: 2021
Harmonica virtuoso Mark Hummel has always appreciated, celebrated and showcased the great musicians of earlier and modern times. For this year’s Bluesdays performance, shows from the Fillmore West during promoter Bill Graham’s early years will be featured. And he has an ensemble to pull it off.
Guitarist Gary Vogenson (currently with Angela Strehli’s Blues Broads) was mentored by Mike Bloomfield, a guitarist famous for introducing blues to white America with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and shocking Bob Dylan’s followers with his electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival. Vogenson also played with Elvin Bishop, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Norton Buffalo and Maria Muldaur. Drummer Gary Silva played with Elvin Bishop, Ron Thompson’s the Resistors, Charlie Musselwhite and Junior Walker. Bassist Bob Welsh, who also plays guitar and keyboards, is a younger member in the group, and a current player with Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio.
Hummel has released more than 20 solo albums and more than another 20 collaborations and compilations. His latest is “Mark Hummel presents the East Bay Blues Vault, 1976-88.”
“They are early recordings I played on and people who have been big influences on me,” said Hummel who plays on 11 of the 22 songs.
Artists on the album include Ron Thompson, Franck “Paris Slim” Goldwasser, Sonny Rhodes, Brownie McGhee, J.J. Malone, Mississippi Johnny Waters, Cool Papa, Boogie Jake, Little Willie Littlefield, Robert Kelton and Nancy Wright.”
Those artists and Hummel regularly performed in those years at the Eli’s Mile High Club and Deluxe Inn in Oakland and The Playboy and Savoy clubs in Richmond. Those venues are a contrast to the outdoor Village at Palisades Tahoe, a ski resort and site of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games.
“It’s pretty different but it sure is fun,” Hummel said. “It’s great because we always see people we haven’t seen in a long time. I’ve brought up so many good musicians that people know that I will bring up a great band.”
July 5 — Laurie Morvan Band
Talk about true blues: Laurie Morvan’s hardscrabble path to the bandstand began years before she started playing music.
“I grew up on Bittersweet Lane in New Lenox, Illinois, and dad walked out. That is 100 percent true,” Morvan said. “Is there more of a blues beginning than that?”
A fiery lead guitarist and prolific songwriter, Morvan’s recording career began in 1997, so her “Bittersweet” childhood is long known to blues listeners. But this summer marks the first time Morvan and her band will appear at Bluesdays.
Truckee resident and national touring artist Mighty Mike Schermer performed with Morvan on a few occasions.
“She’s badass,” Schermer said. “She’s more in the blues-rock idiom but what I’ve always admired about Laurie is her energy. She just puts the pedal to the metal and really takes no prisoners. You don’t really need to question whether she’s good or not. She’s gonna let you know right away. You’re going to need to go there and find out.”
A Southern California resident, Morvan has had a few nearby shows in 2022, including Reno, Folsom and is slated to headline Sunday, May 29, at Lakeview Commons at South Lake Tahoe’s Big Blues Music & Blues Festival.
July 12: Terry Hanck
Last appearance: 2018
An all-time Bluedays favorite, saxophonist Terry Hanck’s appearance last year was smoked out by the Caldor Fire. He and his band will make their first Village appearance in four years on Tuesday, July 12.
Hanck’s blues-based sound is flavored with early rock and roll — when the saxophone, and not guitar, was the featured instrument. A Chicago native, Hanck was inspired by the blues at a 1962 B.B. King concert.
His blues has an early rock and roll sound, and for good reason. He was around when the music began.
“The first rock and roll I heard was Fats Domino and Little Richard,” Hanck said. “Fats Domino never called it rock and roll. He called it rhythm and blues.
“Early rock and roll is what influenced me. Jazz, soul, blues, I really don’t separate it. Great tenor players from the bebop era could all really get down and play blues. I don’t think they thought, ‘Now I am playing blues and now I am playing jazz.’ They are interrelated.”
Hanck has won three Blues Music Awards and 2019 album, “I Still Get Excited,” spent 10 months in the top 12 of the Classic Blues Roots Music Charts. It was Hanck’s fifth record was produced by Kid Andersen at Greaseland Studios.
Hanck’s West Coast band has had the same personnel for each Bluesdays show: Johnny “Cat” Soubrand plays a Fender Telecaster guitar, Butch Cousins plays drums and the bassist is Tim Wagar.
Hanck lives in Florida, but spends most of summers in California, where he built a fan base from 1977-87 when he was in Elvin Bishop’s band during its heyday of hit songs. Before he accepted Bishop’s third offer to become a member of his touring band, he performed on sessions for “Struttin’ My Stuff,” which included Bishop’s greatest hit, “Fooled Around and Fell in Love.”
While Bishop ended up helping Thomas get a big break, Hanck gets credit for bringing Chris “Kid” Andersen from Norway to Northern California.
Hanck, whose wife is from Norway, often plays shows during his visits there. Andersen played guitar in the house band for a venue that featured headlining blues players from the United States.
“I was looking for a guitar player and all (Andersen’s) heroes were from California, guys like Junior Watson,” Hanck said. “I said, ‘If you are serious, let’s do it.’ He is such a talent, it (moving to the U.S.) was going to happen sooner or later. The guy is a force of nature.”
July 19: Dennis Jones Band
Last appearance: 2019
“I’ve got plenty of time to sleep when I die,” Dennis Jones sang on his seventh album, 2020’s “Soft, Hard & Loud.”
The Los Angeles triple threat has a bit of a double life in music: He’s a rocker and he’s a bluesman.
During his last time on the Bluesdays bandstand in 2019, he told the audience: “This is not just about the Dennis Jones Band,” he said. “It’s about live music. There’s more to life than sitting behind a computer and talking on a cellphone. Life is going by. Get out there and mingle.”
No one knew that a few months later the world would have a pandemic, ending and changing lives, forcing people to put things in perspective. The Dennis Jones Band’s fourth Bluesdays show will be a celebration to savor.
Jones is influenced by Jimi Hendrix and Robin Trower. Veins on his arms bulge when bends strings on his Stratocaster with his fingers and barres them with his thumb. Like fellow guitar greats Coco Montoya, Jack White and Tab Benoit, Jones is a former drummer. His percussion erudition doubtless helps him create so many great songs. Jones is an undisputed guitar virtuoso, but the song is everything to him.
Jones’s studio and performing bandmates are his longtime drummer Raymond Johnson and bassist Corney Mims, who co-produced the latest album.
July 26: Albert Castiglia
Last appearance: 2018
The star is shining brightly these days on Albert Castiglia.
The Blues Music Awards named him 2022’s Best Blues Rock Artist and his 2020 record, “Masterpiece,” Best Blues Rock Album.” His latest album, “I Got Love” moved atop the blues charts for multiple weeks upon its March 25 release.
Although he presents an original sound on “I Got Love,” snatches of key inspirations do shine through from time to time.
This spring, Castiglia was one-half of The Blood Brothers Tour with Mike Zito, owner of Gulf Coast Records.
“They call me a ‘slinger,’ ” he said. “There’s an edge to what I do. I’m along the rock-blues vein.”
Castiglia is a 48-year-old Floridian. He began touring with Junior Wells at the age of 27 and has gone on to record 13 solo albums.
It all started when a 12-year-old Castiglia heard Muddy Waters’ album “Hard Again.”
“That’s the record that changed my life and when I knew I wanted to be a blues musician,” he said.
Castiglia also played at Bluesdays in 2013.
Aug. 2: Aki Kumar
Bollywood blues are coming to the Village with the debut of Aki Kumar.
A strong singer and accomplished harmonica player, Kumar moved to Silicon Valley from India in the late 1990s. His sound is a blend of Chicago blues, vintage rock ‘n’ roll and Indian melodies.
“What I am doing is representing myself in this genre — who I am,” Kumar said in a press statement. “Literally, it’s my identity — I’m 50 percent here and I’m 50 percent there and therefore my music represents that.”
Kumar has three albums: “Aki Goes to Bollywood” (2016), “Hindi Man Blues” (2018) and “Dilruba,” which was released by the Sony Music India label in 2020.
Aki Kumar was the final show booked for the season. Mark Hummel describes Kumar’s harp playing as “great,” and he recommend the San Jose resident for Bluesdays.
Aug. 9 – J.C. Smith Band
Last appearance: 2016
The J.C. Smith Band is notable for the recent shows that he missed. Due to smoke from California wildfires, the 2021 Bluesdays show – and subsequently the rest of the series — was canceled. This winter he was on a three-week tour in Russia. The band returned home when Ukraine was invaded.
On April 30, the J.C. Smith Band had a benefit show in it hometown San Jose for Doctors Without Borders efforts in Ukraine.
Smith is known for its smooth sound and sharp clothes. It delivers various hues of blues, from horn-driven soul to Chicago style to early rock ’n’ roll. Singer-guitarist J.C. Smith is clearly influenced by T-Bone Walker, the player Chuck Berry emulated. He also has plenty of charisma and he makes sure the crowd has a good time.
A former drummer, Smith plays a Gibson 335, the same ax wielded by Freddie King, Otis Rush, Larry Carlton and the aforementioned T-Bone Walker and Chuck Berry.
Honors include the 2012 Metro Newspapers Best Of Silicon Valley “Best Original/local Band” and a Grammy nomination for the album “Defining Cool.” The band has toured Russia, Eastern Europe, Mexico and South America, and Smith has recorded with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and shared the stage with Son Seals, B.B. King, Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy and Buddy Miles.
Smith is a big fan of the Rolling Stones, and the feeling is mutual. Mick Jagger attended a February J.C. Smith Band concert.
Aug. 16: Studebaker John & The Hawks
Last appearance: 2013
How many superlatives can be packed into a Studebaker? For Studebaker John, plenty.
Studebaker John is an authentic Chicago bluesman, having lived in the Windy City his whole life. And like the first automobile models ever made, Studebaker’s guitar is electric. He also is an accomplished harp player.
“He has a deep understanding of the blues tradition that comes from hanging with the classic Chicago bluesmen, but he’s created his own sound and style from these roots,” said Alligator Records founder Bruce Iglauer.
The Chicago Tribune: “His raw amplified canonical work recalls past masters like Little Walter and Big Walter Horton, while his slide guitar style is descended from the styles of Elmore James and Hound Dog Taylor.”
Born in 1952, Studebaker John Grimaldi was inspired to play slide guitar after seeing Hound Dog Taylor, with whom who he later jammed. He also shared the stage with Big Walter, Buddy Guy and Jimmy Johnson. His guitar playing is so respected he reportedly was offered to join the new version of the Yardbirds.
In addition to 18 solo albums, he has recorded with Pretty Things and the Yardbirds.
Aug. 23: Eddie 9V
Twenty-six year-old Eddie 9V will appear at Bluesdays for the first time. Eddie’s touring band is Lane Kelly on bass and vocals, Chad Mason on keyboard and Aaron Hambrick on drums.
Eddie’s been on the blues radar ever since he was in high school. His band, The Georgia Flood, represented the Atlanta Blues Society in the 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. His first album, “Left My Soul In Memphis,” was released in 2019. Two years later, “Little Black Flies” was release on Ruf Records.
“I’ve seen a trend in modern recording,” he said in a press statement. “There’s no soul. I took inspiration from Albert Collins, Otis Rush, Mike Bloomfield. All those great records were done live with their buddies and no overdubs. I wanted the playing to be spot-on – but even if we made a mistake, we kept going.”
As for his freewheeling lyrics, Eddie credits his home life: “I’ve been making words up on the spot for years – my Uncle Brian taught me how to do that at our family fish fries. How to make people laugh, how to hold an audience’s attention.”
Aug. 30: Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings
Last appearance: 2019
I am here to settle all rumors,” slide guitar master Roy Rogers declared. “The Newports are not making a comeback.”
The Newports were a gold-jacket wearing band Rogers played with when he was in middle school. He said the group played in Squaw Valley in 1964 or ’65 at the Truckee High School senior prom. Instead, Rogers will perform on the final Bluesdays show of the season at The Village at Palisades Tahoe with his newer band, The Delta Rhythm Kings.
The legend of Roy Rogers — the one with chops, not chaps – is well known to blues lovers across the globe. He performed with and produced for John Lee Hooker on a Grammy Award-winning album. He played for years in a duo with the great harmonica player and vocalist Norton Buffalo. He loves to absorb himself in projects, such as collaborations with Ray Manzarek and his latest, StringShot, a Latin-blues trio with violinist and stringed harp player Carlos Reyes and Brazilian singer and guitarist Badi Assad.
And about that newer band, The Delta Rhythm Kings. That’s the rhythm section of drummer Kevin Hayes (a longtime member of Robert Cray’s band) and bassist Steve Ehrmann, who played with Lightnin’ Hopkins and was the person who introduced Rogers to John Lee Hooker.
“It’s such a joy to play with musicians like that,” Rogers said. “It’s really a communication. It’s unwritten. It’s wonderful to play with guys who know the grooves like the back of their hands.
“We’re not looking for perfection. We’re looking for it to feel as good as it possibly can.“
Village at Palisades
6-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays
- June 14: The Blues Monsters
- June 21: Chris Cain
- June 28: Mark Hummel Band’s Night at the Fillmore
- July 5: Laurie Morvan Band
- July 12: Terry Hanck
- July 19: Dennis Jones Band
- July 26: Albert Castiglia
- Aug. 2: Aki Kumar
- Aug. 9: J.C. Smith
- Aug. 16: Studebaker John & The Hawks
- Aug. 23: Eddie 9V
- Aug. 30: Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings