Reno’s new cool music hub in the hip part of town celebrated its 1-year anniversary on April 29 with a performance by funky homegrown septet, Mojo Green.
Guitarist and band leader Tim Bain says The Saint is his favorite place to play in Reno.
“The Saint is that venue we’ve been wanting to have in Reno for quite a few years,” Bain told Tahoe Onstage. “It is our hometown venue. Anytime we’re on the road, people always ask us, ‘We want to play with you in Reno, where do you go in Reno?’ We always can say now, The Saint.”
The Saint is part of Reno’s burgeoning cultural scene. Artown, a month of summertime events, doubtless helped start the metamorphosis of the Biggest Little City in the World. More recently, the wintertime OffBeat Arts & Music Festival and springtime Sculpture Fest were created. And midtown has gone from being a rundown neighborhood in the shadows of high-rise casinos to a Reno version of Berkeley’s iconic Telegraph Avenue, with new and used clothing shops, vegetarian restaurants, pubs and Recycled Records. Located at 761 South Virginia St., The Saint is a brewery and concert hall housed in a restored brick building with a vintage neon sign.
All types of music are presented throughout the week from nationally touring and local bands. And there is a blues jam held every Wednesday night.
“Midtown is really trying to bring some culture and arts and get that vibe going that Reno is not just a city of pawn shops and casinos,” Bain said.
Since it opened a year ago, The Saint has been embraced by the music community.
Promoter Georgette Crush explained: “We first envisioned it being more of a bar and a tap room, We thought we’d have a few shows. Now we are stepping more into being a music venue because that’s what the community wants and that’s what all of these artists need as they’re traveling on the road. Everybody’s coming out of the woodwork right now, which is great because we want to have a lot of shows. If we can have music seven days a week, so be it. That’s the goal.”
Musically, Reno and its neighbors used to have mostly rock, metal and country bands. But venues such as the Crystal Bay Club and Cargo Concert Hall and festivals such as Squaw Valley’s Brews, Jazz & Funk, High Sierra and Guitarfish have opened the stage for jam bands, Americana and bluegrass groups and funk outfits, including Mojo Green.
Mojo Green released its debut album, “Funk in Public,” in 2013 and followed up last year with “Soul Phatasaxtion.” The players all live in Reno and three of them are music instructors. The newest member is bassist Dave Strawn, who joined last July.
“He comes with a great attitude and he’s a really solid musician,” Bain said. “He has a great understanding of music theory and the pocket, which is invaluable to a funk band.”
Mojo Green has a busy summer ahead. After playing Sculpture Fest, it will have a two-week tour through Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas. It will play two festivals in Sacramento as well as the For The Funk Of It in Belden, California, at which Mojo Green will share the stage Saturday, Aug. 12, with Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. Fans also can expect to see Mojo Green play on the beaches at Lake Tahoe.