Winter Snowdown II showed up at Crystal Bay Casino Lake Tahoe as an innovative dance party.
It was an electrifying lineup With Marty O’Reilly and The Old Soul Orchestra, Royal Jelly Jive, and Willy Tea Taylor in the Crown Room on Saturday night — and The Sam Chase and the Untraditional in the Red Room.
Taylor opened and let the crowd know he was excited to play his folk songs with a special four-string tenor guitar on this evening. The tunes included “National Treasure” and “Wild Bucksstand,” and he concluded with “It’s in the Water.”
The mood had the feel of a “Lost Sierra Hoedown” reunion. The musicians and many of the fans had attended past Lost Sierra festivals. Even the producers of the Hoedown fest were in attendance.
When Royal Jelly Jive took over, everything changed. Their swanky soul jive electrified the audience. Tahoe Onstage photographer Larry Sabo advised: “The minute they come onstage to the minute they walk off, it’s pure excitement.” He was not exaggerating.
Royal Jelly Jive is a six-piece unique, intoxicating band. Once you see them play, you will follow them wherever they go to catch them again. Lauren Bjelde is the sultry lead singer, Jesse Lemme Adams (“The Jimi Hendrix on accordion) plays keyboards and accordion, Robby Elfman is on clarinet/sax, Luke Zavala is on trombone, Tyden Binsted plays bass, and Felix Macnee is on drums.
At one point, Adams on the keys leaped offstage, with his keyboard in hand, never missing a beat while joining Zavala on trombone to perform “Jelly Jive,” inciting the dancers. The band closed with a crowd favorite, “Top Hat.” They love spreading the jelly and leave us wanting more.
Marty O’Reilly & The Old Soul Orchestra reminded congertgoers of another place and time. The band features four exceptional musicians, O’Reilly on vocals and playing guitar, Chris Lynch the fiddle player extraordinaire, Jeff Kissel with his upright bass, and Matt Goff on drums. Together, they create psychedelic funk.
They started with “Firmament “ and “Letters.” Later, the Royal Jelly Jive came back and the collective rocked the end of the evening together. They closed in high energy with “Smokestack Lightning” and the crowd’s favorite, “Spacehorse.”
Just when everyone thought the party was over, there was more music. The Sam Chase and The Untraditional embraced the Red Room with two fiddle players, a trumpeter, a bassist, two players on rhythm guitars, and a drummer. With Chase’s signature raspy voice, this became quite the dance party, and a full room of revelers continued the celebration into the early morning.
— Marcia Schultz