Mamaluke to play biggest little show in the world in Reno

Mamaluke
Mamaluke is Matt Harrison, left, David Kanel, Joel Anderson, Chris Rossi, Ron Cataldo

This is the story of how one of the most celebrated rock bands in the Bay Area got invited to play in the Biggest Little City in the World by playing at the Biggest Little Party in California.

First, the facts: Mamaluke will be at Paddy & Irene’s Irish Pub, 906 Victorian Ave., Sparks, on Saturday, April 9, for a 9 p.m. gig. The crowd, like the band, will be loud, diverse and, in all likelihood, more than a bit on the rowdy side.

And, it’s all because one man didn’t want to miss a party. (We’ll get to him in a minute.)

Mamaluke’s roots trace back to 2005, when bassist David Kanel first joined forces with guitarists Chris Rossi and Ron Cataldo. Each had played in a multitude of Bay Area and Los Angeles-based bands — some of which achieved MTV airplay back in the day — since the 1980s.

Their high-energy performances — drawing from bands as diverse as the Ramones and Kiss to Pink Floyd and the Beatles — quickly earned them a bit of a cult following and a reputation as one of the most entertaining live acts in the Bay Area.

This reputation was cemented in 2007, when they entered a “Battle of the Bands” competition hosted by Greg Kihn, who was working as a disc jockey in San Jose. Mamaluke finished second out of 124 bands that year, and was a semifinalist in each of the next two years.

From there, the band only improved, playing throughout the Western states (including some shows at Harveys Lake Tahoe). The recent addition of vocalist Matt Harrison and drummer Joel Anderson took things to a higher level — and that’s what leads us to the party.

Mamaluke was the headliner at the first-ever Wallystock festival in Tracy, California, in September 2009, finally returning again in 2015 for the seventh annual Wallystock (now held near Chico). Wallystock, which started as one man’s attempt at a memorable 50th birthday party, has evolved into an annual gathering of hundreds of friends from a dozen different states and became so popular by its fourth year that its organizer stopped accepting ticket requests from the general public. (The party is literally held at a secret location and moved every couple of years, earning it the reputation as “The Biggest Little Party in California.”)

One of the attendees – Fernley’s Tim Jones – was so impressed with the band at Wallystock that he planned a return trip to see Mamaluke at a show in Discovery Bay.

Frustrated with the fact he had a conflicting softball tournament, Jones paid a visit to the owner of Paddy & Irene’s, armed with a video of the band playing at Wallystock.

“I showed her the clip of them doing the medley — “Werewolves of London,” “Sweet Home Alabama” and “All Summer Long” — and she was hooked,” Jones said.

In no time at all, the band was booked for the gig.

That’s the story in a nutshell. If you want to live the spirit of Mamaluke and the top-secret party known as Wallystock, you’ll never get a better chance.

ABOUT Mike Wolcott

Mike Wolcott
Mike Wolcott is the editor of the Chico Enterprise-Record. His proudest musical moment came when he was scolded by Who bassist John Entwistle for making too much noise at a Roger Daltrey concert. He especially likes classic rock, classic old-time country, Jimmy Buffett, Bob Dylan and all three Hanks. Parsons calls him “Wally.” When he’s not slaying deadlines, you can find Wally playing guitar in a Corning-based cover band called Punches the Clown.

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