Blue Öyster Cult delivers rare acoustic show in Tahoe

Kurt Johnson / Tahoe Onstage
Jules Radino, left, Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeger and Eric Bloom go it alone in the South Shore Room.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Kurt Johnson

The cowbell arrived at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe on Saturday night, but some members of Blue Öyster Cult did not.

The musicians who made the show – Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeger, Eric Bloom and Jules Radino – don’t fear the reaper, and they aren’t afraid of train wrecks, either. They played the show anyway. The well-known metal band performed with acoustic guitars and a drum kit. Forgetting the words to “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” the band members invited anybody in the audience who knew the words to come onstage, but no one came up.

A strange site: Buck Dharma with an acoustic guitar.
A strange site: Buck Dharma with an acoustic guitar.

About 20 percent of the South Shore Room audience left the show after hearing several of the band members were stuck in the airport in Phoenix, but those who remained enjoyed a thoroughly unique experience.

“It was very intimate,” Tahoe Onstage photographer Kurt Johnson said. “To the people who love them, they can do no wrong. They got to hear stories and information about the songs that they otherwise would have never known about. Something like that is never going to happen again, so it was pretty cool.”

A couple of fans commented about the show on Facebook.

Seth Wiles: “What a great experience. Buck and Bloom unplugged. Awesome!”

Ron Freas: “Yeah! Ditto on the awesome! Was like listening to early rough cuts of songs in progress of being realized. Those who left missed out on a great experience. Acoustic ‘Godzilla,’ hey!”

Blue Öyster Cult, which began in the 1960s as Soft White Underbelly, had its heyday in the 1970s and ‘80s with hit songs such as “Burnin’ For You,” “Godzilla,” “ME 262,” “Transmaniacon MC” and “This Ain’t the Summer of Love.”

Also referred to as BÖC, the band was the first to use an umlaut in its name. An umlaut is a two-dot mark used over certain vowels in the German language and was used by heavy metal bands such as Motörhead, Queensrÿche and Mötley Crüe to symbolize devil horns.

The cult of Blue Öyster Cult grew greater in 2000 when the band was spoofed in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch featuring Christopher Walken, a rock ‘n’ roll producer who insisted on “more cowbell” during a studio session of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.”

While a cowbell was used Saturday, the person who played it stayed at the left side of the stage behind a curtain, leaving Buck Dharma, Bloom and Radino in the spotlight on a most unusual night.

To see all of Kurt Johnson’s photos from the show, please click the LINK.

Tahoe Onstage
Eric Bloom of Blue Oyster Cult.
Tahoe Onstage
Jules Radino on the drum kit.

Tahoe Onstage

More Cowbell
Those who stayed loved the one-of-a-kind performance.

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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