“When we’re not on the road, we are working on either how to get back on the road or how to make better music.” That’s the mind-set for Gene Evaro Jr. and his retooled band, which has had a major presence during the past couple of years in the Lake Tahoe area.
Gene Evaro Jr. has played the Hangtown and OffBeat festivals, Wanderlust, Guitarfish and the last two High Sierra Music Festivals. And Saturday the band appears at Brews, Jazz & Funk in The Village at Squaw Valley before playing an encore set that evening at the Crystal Bay Casino.
“It’s been nice to get out in the desert and find where people resonate with the music and Tahoe is definitely one of those spots,” Evaro said.
When he gets out of the desert he also is leaving the studio, a place where he could remain and have a nice career as a producer and engineer. But a few years ago he decided to step onstage, where he has lofty goals.
“My grandparents continue to just have the vision that I’m going to do exactly what I want to do, which is win some Grammys, get out there and tour the world and make a make a name for the family because that’s what the family’s been doing for so long and that’s what that’s what the family does.”
The 28-year-old Evaro is a fourth-generation professional musician and one of 11 siblings. He started banging drums as soon as he could stand and began to write songs when he learned to talk. He developed listening skills by growing up in his father’s studio, absorbing esoteric musical critiques during recording sessions.
“Watching and listening, that’s all I did,” Evaro said. “A big part of being in a band isn’t just playing and saying listen to me. It’s listening to other people, it’s listening to other bands. It’s listening to what you actually sound like. That’s the best thing you can do for your ears. The best thing you could do for your audience is to not to just think you’re good but to listen to how good you may or may not be.”
Once an eight-piece, Evaro’s band is now a streamlined quartet, which includes saxophonist Clint Stoker, newly add drummer Victor Singer, a native of France, and Piper Robison, who draws much attention for her musicianship on bass and her stunning appearance.
Robison played other instruments but learned bass about five years ago. She, too, is from a musical family and she quickly became an accomplished player. During a performance in High Sierra’s Vaudeville tent, it was funny to see the shooters in the photo pit mostly pointed their lenses toward Robison and not the band leader.
“She’s focusing on becoming the best bass player she can because when you get out on the road you realize how many great musicians are out there, who either one that make you want to quit or make want to play better,” Evaro said.” I don’t doubt that there’ll be plenty more cameras on her for the rest of her life because she’s going to continue to get better, to rock and kick ass and, yeah, look good.”
Evaro said each band member has a single-minded focus on music.
Right now we have a solid group of people in the band that are focused and that are excited,” he said. “Touring can be really hard, being in a band can be really hard and the more people you have the harder it is. Everything we’ve been doing has been fruitful, but maintaining an eight-piece band is difficult.”
As festival season winds down, Evaro plans to return to his studio in September. He is writing songs and preparing for an album release in early 2018. He also writes and records songs for commercials and television shows.
“Instrumentation will always come and go,” he said. “This band has always been about the songs. I don’t want to be in the jam scene forever. I don’t want to be in the festival scene forever. I’m a songwriter, (but) I am not also going to get stuck in the café scene with all the other songwriters. I am trying to navigate through a lot of different niches but the one thing that has been constant is my message, which is what the song is about.”