Chad Wilkins: Incline Village artist’s music with a message

Chad Wilkins
Chad Wilkins performs at MontBleu on Friday.
Hana Wolf Photography

Some Lake Tahoe music lovers might be surprised to learn Chad Wilkins lives at Incline Village.

The opener for reggae artist Mike Love last Friday at MontBleu, Wilkins does most of his work on the road, touring nationally, doing session work in Arizona and performing at his other home in Byron Bay, Australia. He’s a folk singer-songwriter who plays ukulele, guitar and an 8-string ukulele-banjo hybrid.

“I play conscious music with real spiritual lyrics that focus on upliftment and inspiration,” he said.

After graduating from Incline High School in 2003, he moved to Australia, where he met his wife and started a family. He became a full-time musician in 2012.

Wilkins’ love for music inspired him to start playing trombone in the sixth grade. In high school, he started a jazz band.

“I like how you could slide between all the notes,” he said. “It seemed like the most flexible of all the instruments and you could get the most creative with it. That was my perception at the time, at least.”

His influences are jazz’s John Coltrane and Miles Davis, and folk’s Simon and Garfunkel, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Brett Dennen, Trevor Hall and Jonathan Byrd, and reggae’s Mike Love.

Wilkins has played with Love at three festivals and recently at Harlow’s in Sacramento.

“He’s a phenomenal musician on many fronts,” Wilkins said. “He has beautiful, positive lyrical content and a really unique style with interesting effects with his pedals.”

Wilkins often performs in a trio with violin player Mark Lee and saxophone, flute and percussionist Trevor Hollingsworth, who also grew up at Incline Village. Hollingsworth left the band Mojo Green when he moved to Grass Valley. Electric bass guitarist Thomas Spellman also will perform with the group for a hour-long set at Friday’s show. South Shore reggae-rockers Taking Root will hit the stage first.

After MontBleu, Wilkins has appearances scheduled in Ashland and Eugene, Oregon.

On July 27, Wilkins will perform at Tyde Music Studio in Kings Beach along with Los Angeles artist Trevor Green.

ABOUT Tim Parsons

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.

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