Grahame Lesh looks like his father, Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, but his music sounds more like Gram Parsons. His band Midnight North features three-part harmonies and the California country sound.
“The Laurel Canyon ’60s, ’70s music — we’re big fans of all of that,” Lesh told Tahoe Onstage. “It’s a big influence. We love that music and we’d play it all day if we could.”
Midnight North, in fact, often covers Parsons’ “Grievous Angel,” along with a fast-growing library of its own new music. It became known regionally to music fans after appearing at the 2015 High Sierra Music Festival. It’s also appeared at the Crystal Bay Casino, Grey’s Crossing in Truckee and the Sierra Valley Lodge in Calpine. The band returns to Crystal Bay on Friday, Nov. 11, for a free show in the Red Room.
The Americana band came together from two bands, and it includes songwriters Lesh and female vocalist Elliott Peck. Guitarist Alex Jordan, who also sings, is joined by bass player Connor Croon and the band’s newest member, drummer Alex Koford.
“We did a bunch of touring last year, which was our first step, but (last summer was) an evolution of that,” Lesh said. “That’s all that we want to do is get out on the road and take our show out to the people.”
Grahame Lesh, 29, said he feels no added pressure being the son of a member of one of the world’s best-known rock bands.
“I can see intellectually how that could be the case but I don’t because there’s not really any downside to being his son,” he said. “It’s an amazingly lucky situation that I was born into as a person and also as a musician. I am mostly just thankful for that and try and take advantage the best I can. He’s an amazing person and father. It’s all gravy for me.”
Also fortuitous, is that Grahame’s parents opened a music venue in San Rafael in 2012. Midnight North plays at Terrapin Crossroads on Sunday nights, and Grahame often joins the jam by Phil Lesh and Friends.
“Terrapin Crossroads gave us the opportunity to play in front of people,” Grahame Lesh said. “You can practice in a garage and get really good but until you get in front of people, it’s a totally different animal.”
Lesh didn’t grow up planning to be a professional musician, but his background gave him the base to do so.
“There were math classes and piano lessons and that taught me the physicality of playing the instrument but also theory, and music theory is pretty important to know as a person and not just for a musician, the general basics of how it all works,” he said. “I took piano lessons when I was super young and … when I was a teenager I taught myself guitar. If you know the theory, generally then it’s just the muscle memory of learning the song.
“I jammed with friends in high school, and my first band bands were in college. One band changes a couple members and then it turns into a new one and it leads to a couple of years of fun with that band and it finally evolves into what we have now.”
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- Midnight North
When: 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11
Where: Crystal Bay Casino Red Room