With a strong beat, Steel Pulse returns to Tahoe

Tahoe Onstage
Steel Pulse patriarchs David Hinds, left, and Selwynn Brown add more heat to the fired up crowd in the Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room — a record 820 — on Wednesday, July 27. The band will be back at Lake Tahoe on May 24 for a show in the MontBleu Theatre.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Reggae stalwarts Steel Pulse, carrying the rasta torch for more than four decades, returns to Lake Tahoe on Thursday, May 24, in the MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa Theatre.

Hawaii’s Mike Love also brings his island vibes on the Reggae SpringSplash tour, with DJ DubFyah and NorCal’s Clear Conscience in the mix, as well. Doors open at 7 p.m. and music starts at 8. Guests must be 21 or older. The show is presented by Late-Nite Productions and general admission tickets are $25 plus fees and taxes in advance, or $30 plus fees and taxes on day-of-show.

The day before the MontBleu show, Steel Pulse will hold a Celebration of Life concert in Los Angeles for Steve “Grizzly” Nisbett, a founding member of the band who died Jan. 18, 2018. He was 69. “This is a tribute to a funk drummer who took reggae music to another level,” said frontman David Hinds.

Steele Pulse last played in Lake Tahoe on Wednesday, July 27, 2016, at Crystal Bay Casino. Tahoe Onstage was on hand to review the show:

David “Dread” Hinds has a Steel Pulse.

The leader and founding member of the enduring Birmingham, England, reggae band was an irie bundle of energy Wednesday night when Steel Pulse delivered 90 minutes of social commentary in song to a record crowd of 820 in Crystal Bay Casino’s newly renovated Crown Room.

Roaring louder than a reggae lion, fans were all about it, providing backing vocals to familar songs. Concertgoers ranged from twentysomethings to seasoned seniors who have imbibed in the band’s vibes for 40-plus years. The musicians drew from their entire catalogue, delivering an 11-song, hour-long first set and a four-song encore.

It almost wasn’t so. Hinds survived a serious bout with pneumonia last winter. Steel Pulse canceled a January appearance at Cargo Concert Hall in Reno when Hinds was hospitalized. It didn’t resume touring for almost two months.

“We almost lost him,” keyboardist Selwyn Brown told Tahoe Onstage before the show. Brown has been singing and playing alongside Hinds since 1977, two years after Steel Pulse was formed in the inner city area of Handsworth. Ten years later, the band became the first non-Jamaican group to win a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album.

A happy and rasta-strong Hinds was all over the CBC stage from the get go, sometimes playing the rhythm guitar, sometimes singing without, and even added more cowbells to one tune. He danced with Brown and with backup vocalist Keysha McTaggart, rarely standing still. He directed traffic during high-powered solos by saxophone/clarinet player James Johnson, lead guitarist David “Cirious” Elecciri and 5-string bassist Amlak Tafari. Wayne “C#” Clarke played drums inside a sound-protected fortress and was flanked by keyboardist Sidney Mills and percussionist Hashim “Scorpion” Russell.

Reggae bands often implore fans to “get your hands in the air,” but when Steel Pulse repeated “I’ve got my hands up,” the lyrics were accompanied by “I can’t breathe” and “don’t shoot,” referring to the 2014 death of Eric Garner during an arrest by police in Staten Island, New York City.

“Don’t Shoot” came during the encore, and the well-packed, sweaty crowd understood the context. “Steppin Out” followed, “Here comes the Rastaman — catch me if you can.” The close came time for a call to a “Taxi Driver,” but the cab refused to stop and pick up the dudes with dreads.

The band passed out set lists to some lucky ladies at the end of the show, and Selwyn Brown lingered a bit to take of pictures of the satisfied Crystal Bay Club crowd: “Peace and Love. See you next time.” The righteous reggae continues to roll toward a fifth decade.

– Randy Hashagen

Related story: “We almost lost him.” David “Dread” Hinds is back.


Steel Pulse

David Hinds
Irie again: David “Dread” Hinds has a Steel Pulse.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Steel Pulse
David “Cirious” Elecciri on lead guitar.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Tim Parsons
High-altitude horn player Jerry Johnson was a crowd favorite.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Tahoe Onstage
“Taxi Driver” Selwyn Brown keeps the show on course.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Tim Parsons
David Hinds, left, Keysha McTaggart and Amlak Tafari of Steel Pulse.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

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Tahoe Onstage is an online entertainment and sports magazine covering Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Reno, the Carson Valley and June Lake.

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