The expected highlight of a new Tuesday night blues series instead became an unexpected ambulance ride to Barton Hospital.
Ron Hacker, a 69-year-old slide guitarist San Francisco, had trouble breathing before he was about to perform April 1 at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe.
“The altitude got to me,” Hacker told Tahoe Onstage. “I had a heart attack about seven years ago and my heart is a bit damaged and I just wasn’t getting enough air. But I’m OK now.”
The Buddy Emmer Blues Band, which is host of the weekly show, performed well on its own for the crowd, which included several of Hacker’s friends and fans from Tahoe and Reno.
Rich Maloon, who plays guitar with the Reno band Blue Haven, will be featured from 8-11:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 8. Hacker has been invited back to Tahoe to play May 6 or 13.
“I came up Monday at noon and it didn’t start bothering me until midnight,” Hacker said. “Next time I will come right up and load in and just be up there for 12 hours.”
A veteran bluesman who for 35 years has been a Saturday night mainstay at The Saloon in North Beach, Hacker said he refused to be duped by Barton staff.
“I think they were trying to pad the bill because they wanted me to stay overnight and take a stress test because everything they tested me for was OK,” Hacker said “You’re not thinking straight. You want me to come up at high altitude where I can’t get my breath, and then you want me to take a stress test? I know they were trying to pad the bill.”
Maloon’s Blue Haven has hosted a Thursday night jam at Reno’s 3rd Street bar for seven years. He joined the group in 2000, and he said the lineup has remained consistent, save for its three drummers.
Maloon plays a Gibson ES 135 guitar.
“It’s beat to shit but it’s my baby,” he said. “It has nice tone for mellow stuff but I can also dig in and get into it.”
He said he prefers playing blues over rock because the style encourages improvisation and improvement.
The Reno Blues Sociey’s 2014 representative at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Rick Hammond, will be featured at Harrah’s April 15. “Matty T” Trayton of Vacaville plays April 22. Pete L’Angelle, who splits his time in Reno and Los Angeles, plays April 29.
The Harrah’s shows are free.