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Hang on Reno: Midtown gets the blues each Wednesday

Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Harp player Ric Stricker sits in during the Wednesday night blues at The Saint.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

“Don’t be afraid, come on in;
You might run across some of your old friends.
All your loneliness I gotta soothe;
I’ll play the blues for you.”

– Albert King

Midtown Reno is the place for midweek blues.

Tristan Selzler and his band St. Christopher Project host the informal jam – there is no set list — each Wednesday from 8 to 11 p.m. at The Saint.

The band plays some Tom Waits covers, a lot of Jimi Hendrix, old-time blues standards and British Invasion-flavored tunes by bands such as Cream and Led Zeppelin. Anyone is welcome to hop on the stage and join in.

“It’s not technically a blues jam because in a blues jam there are rules where everybody gets a certain number of tunes and you have to talk to the jam leader and you sit in and there’s a line and there’s an order and you don’t want to take too long of a solo,” Selzler said. “That’s not what we do here. It’s an open session. When you want to get up, you can get up.”

Georgia Maestro usually can be found on Wednesday nights at The Saint. Not only is she a bartender, she often sings with Selzler’s blues band.

“I’ve watched it grow and grow and grow,” said Maestro, who also plays in the alternative rock band Push Box. “There are a lot of great musicians in town and it’s good to hear them express themselves.”

Maestro prefers to sing to jazz arrangements, which is no problem for a band that also performs jazz as the Tristan Selzler Trio.

“The first time I played, I was intimidated because they are extremely talented,” she said. “But after a few times I felt like I fell into a groove.”

“If you let the devil ride, he’s only gonna want to drive.

– R.L. Burnside

You never know who might step onstage. One night it was Sacramento’s Roosevelt Lands, a harmonica player and singer who goes by the stage name RoHarpo.

“He had a full set of 12 chromatic harps and he tore up the joint,” Selzler said. “He just took over the gig. It was awesome. I broke three guitar strings that night. It was pretty cool.

“Rarely a week goes by when someone doesn’t sit it. We get lot of drummers. Drea Ballard from Moondog Matinee is regular. We get a lot of guitar players, singers and horn players. Not a lot of bass players.”

Guitarists are encouraged to bring their own amps, although that’s not required.

Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Tristan Selzler is Reno’s music man about town.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

“I need music. It’s like my heartbeat. It keeps me going, no matter what’s going on.”

– LeBron James

While Selzler appreciates the blues Kings – Freddie, B.B. and Albert – he is most outspoken about LeBron “King” James because the basketball star can do it all: score, pass, rebound, defend. Selzler is the LeBron James of music.

A San Jose native, Selzler, 33, began to play the trombone at age 6, then quickly started piano. By the time he was in middle school was a fan of Nirvana and Reel Big Fish, so he learned to play guitar.

“I had a sort of pedestrian involvement with jazz in high school bands but then when I started studying it seriously that brought me back to the blues because you don’t get jazz without blues. Jazz is a combination of blues traditions and European traditions, so there is no jazz without blues.”

He moved to Reno in 2003 on a jazz scholarship at the University of Nevada, Reno. He has a bachelor’s degree in piano performance and master’s degree in jazz studies.

During a trip to Tokyo, Selzler found enough job opportunities to make him decide to move to Japan. However, he changed his mind. Reno’s music community is glad he did.

“I like what I’m doing here,” he said. “We have a 19-piece big band (Reno Jazz Syndicate Orchestra) I’ve been working with and writing for and we have shows coming up. Reno has a beautiful Artown month of July that we’ll be super involved in. I am just running around like crazy. I do the Aces stadium, I am teaching at a couple of community colleges, I run music at Unity Center Church. I just have a full plate.

“It’s cool to be doing it where I went to school and where I have made so many connections. I know I’m doing something that I believe in and hopefully it’s impacting the community in a small way.”

Selzler’s jazz trio also is host to a Thursday night jam at The Loving Cup.

His blues band is named after a song by Tom Waits, who is much appreciated by the owner of The Saint. “Hang on St. Christopher” has a verse about Reno.

“Hang on St. Christopher on the passenger side;
Open it up tonight the devil can ride.
Hang on St. Christopher now don’t let me go.
Get to me Reno, got to bring it in low.

– Tom Waits

About 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.

One comment

  1. Hi, Tim…Great article on Tristan’s band and Blues Jam. He does a superlative job at every gig he plays! How about an article and a shout out for the longest running Open Jazz Jam in the area, with the 2016 Forte Award recipients for Best Jazz Group, “First Take featuring Rick Metz”? Every Tuesday from 7-10pm at the Sparks Lounge, at the corner of Baring & Sparks in the Baring Village Shopping Center by the Smith’s grocery store. Please encourage people to support this truly American born and bred musical art form! Details at my website: http://www.RickMetz.com

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