OK, let’s try this again: The 12th season of Bluesdays at Squaw Valley will be off the hook.
The 2020 season of free Tuesday shows was postponed due to the pandemic and ensuing business lockdown. But 2021 – the delayed Season 12 — looks great. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say the best blues band in the world will be included.
Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, the Blues Music Award’s Band of the Year, will perform in The Village at Squaw Valley on Aug. 24, the season’s penultimate show.
The only change from typical seasons is that seats will not be set up. Concertgoers are encouraged to bring their own chairs. Masks are not required. Also, the series begins July 13, about a month later than usual. There will eight shows.
Early this week, the headliners were enthused as they got back to their lives as touring performers.
Alastair Greene returned home to Ventura on Monday from his first tour since the lockdown, 15 shows in 18 days across the Midwest. He appeared during the last two Bluesdays seasons as a sideman. On Aug. 3, he brings his own trio to Tahoe.
“I really like it up there. It’s a cool scene, a cool vibe,” Greene said. “It’s funny, I hadn’t been to Tahoe at all until a few years ago and all of sudden I found myself opening at Crystal Bay for Samantha Fish and then Danielle Nicole. Then Bluesdays with Sugaray Rayford and Debbie Davis and some stuff at the other side of the lake with Buddy Emmer.”
Saxophonist Terry Hanck makes his Bluesdays return on Aug. 17. He’d just returned from Finland in March 2020 when the lockdown began. The former Elvin Bishop bandmember has been strutting his stuff at his West Palm Beach, Florida, home ever since, playing occasional club shows.
“I’m looking forward to coming out to the West Coast and joining my band again,” Hanck said. “(Squaw Valley) is a great spot and we’ve always had a great reception.”
Chris Cain, July 27, has played at Bluesdays more than any other performer. During the lockdown, he signed with Alligator Records and his album, “Raisin’ Cain” has remained high on the blues charts for months.
“That little gig at Squaw Valley has been one of the real joys of my playing days,” 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.”
Harp hero Mark Hummel, July 20, also is a Bluesdays favorite. He’s hosted several harmonica blowouts around the lake and in Reno during its blues heyday at the Hacienda Del Sol has played with legends such as Brownie McGhee and Jimmy Rogers.
“I’ve brought up so many good musicians that people know that I will bring up a great band,” Hummel said. This year, he’s bringing guitarist Rusty Zinn, drummer Wes Starr and bassist Randy Bermudes of the Charlie Musselwhite Band and Bob Welch of Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio.
The Blues Monsters are celebrating its 30th year and will open Bluesdays for the 11th straight time.
“It’s a great honor because again we are the only local band on the bill,” guitarist Chuck Dunn said.
The first Bluesdays show in 23 months figures to be a rousing affair and several local players are expected to step onstage, including the Blues Monsters horn section and singers Kandy Xander, Matt Reardon and Kendal Naughton.
Dunn is the anti-Johnny Cash, dressing all in white. Renowned Southern California artist Johnny Martinez has pinstriped Dunn’s Telecaster pick guards to match Dunn’s loafer boots.
“We like to dress up for this gig,” Dunn said.
Grab & Go Food Offerings this year will include tacos, Bao buns, pizza, pulled pork sandwiches and Bratwursts.
“We are thrilled to offer this free and amazing blues series once again and look forward to welcoming everyone back in the Village this summer,” Caroline Ross of the Squaw Valley Neighborhood Company said. “We have a robust calendar of weekly and signature events, with something for everyone.”
On Wednesday, Ross also announced the Brews Jazz & Funk Fest will be Aug 14-15 and include The Motet, Vella, Sneaky Creatures and Peter Joseph Burtt & The King Tide.
The Village at Squaw Valley
Tuesdays, 6-8:30 p.m.
July 13: The Blues Monsters
July 20: Mark Hummel & the Blues Survivors featuring. Rusty Zinn
July 27: Chris Cain
Aug. 3: Alastair Greene
Aug. 10: J.C. Smith Band
Aug. 17: Terry Hanck
Aug. 24: Rick Estrin & The Nightcats
Aug. 31: Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings
- More events:
Aug. 14-15: Brews Jazz & Funk Fest
Sept. 3: Guitar Strings vs. Chicken Wings
Sept. 18-19: Oktoberfest
Oct. 9-10: Made in Tahoe