Local bands show ‘Whole Lotta Love’ for CASA at annual benefit concert

Strange Weather

Strange Weather rocks the beach.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Tim Parsons

Lakeview Commons was the scene of a fun-filled, family-oriented concert on Friday evening, with two South Lake Tahoe bnds playing the third annual benefit show on behalf of El Dorado County CASA, short for Court Appointed Special Advocates.

“It went well,” CASA Program Coordinator Alexis Foley said. “A lot of positive feedback came from the crowd and from volunteer staff that was working the event. The first band was rhythm and blues and some oldies, they warmed the crowd up, and the second band came out and just rocked the stage.”

Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Howlen Wynd opens the CASA benefit.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

New-age folk trio Howlen Wynd opened up the fun, with a mix of original songs and familiar classic hits, putting a diverse, mellow and soulful spin on songs by Tony Bennett, Willie Nelson, Gershwin, Hank Williams Sr. and John Martyn. It also played four original songs. Enjoying the Live at Lakeview canopy in the hot August afternoon, the trio of Trent Bailey (guitar, vocals), Jonathan Sills (cello), and Zephyr Uber (electric guitar) played for a little over an hour as families, music fans and beach goers gradually gathered for the event.

Strange Weather took the stage just before 6 p.m., opening up with a spirited rendition of “All Right Now” by Free. The four-piece rock band was all activity onstage, with frontman Vinny Berry wailing away in real rock-god fashion. John “Chili” Munroe blazed away on his electric guitar, from crunchy, choppy rhythms too high searing solos that dominate Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile”. The only member with a manageable mane (his bandmates have about five or six feet of hair combined), drummer Jon Gardner somehow wound up in full sunlight, which didn’t remotely affect his precision percussion.

The band played a mix of rock classics alongside its growing repertoire of original material. I particularly enjoyed its take on Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” an ambitious song to play live. Berry did justice to Robert Plant’s psycho-erotic vocal interlude, while Munroe tore through the iconic solo in impressive form.

The tunes weren’t the only throwback vibe, as bassist Todd Christensen stood out on stage in some remarkably short pants. Spinning, stomping and dancing his way through numerous thumping bass lines while throwing his long hair around with vigor, Christensen looked like he had stepped right out of the 1970s. It’s always worth noting when a dude standing around six and a half feet tall has hair significantly longer than his shorts.

With a fun-loving assortment of friends, fans and family members in the audience, Strange Weather had an intimate dance party going in front of the stage by the end of the evening, closing out the festivities as Tahoe’s sky turned from purple to inky blue.

With kids lining up for face painting, raffles at regular intervals, and Live at Lakeview’s familiar beer garden filling up with thirsty concert-goers, there was a little something for everyone. With the help and support of On Course Events, CASA is looking forward to continuing to improve the quality and attendance of the event.

“We’re already talking about how to make it bigger and better next year,” Foley said.

Editor’s note: Howlen Wynd plays twice a week in the Heavenly Village, from noon to 4 p.m. at Base Camp Pizza on Fridays and at Gunbarrel on Saturdays.

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Strange Weather

Todd Christensen and Vinny Berry fuel up as they go over the set list.

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About Josh Sweigert

Josh grew up on the California coast with a deep appreciation for bluegrass and string band music as well as the great outdoors. A guitarist and singer, he plays solo acoustic gigs in South Lake Tahoe.

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