Show review: Nikki Lane’s calm before inevitable commotion

Tahoe Onstage

Nikki Lane wears vintage apparel and has a classic country sound.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage photos

As night falls but before the stars shine, the gloaming can be spectacular. Country singer Nikki Lane is destined to be a star, and an audience of about 250 watched her glow on Saturday in the Crystal Bay Casino.

Finishing up a West Coast tour before she will take a break to make an album, Lane played a full two-hour show in the Crown Room. Lane and her stellar band were due to check in at 9:30 a.m. Sunday for a before-noon performance at San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.

“I’ll be there, but I’ll be mean as hell,” she joked.

Despite the time crunch, Lane mingled with fans after the show. One man who has seen her play 11 times drove up from Castro Valley.

Another fan was a middle-aged woman dressed in a vintage short hoop skirt. A farmer, she spoke of the chance to forget about calluses on her hands and cuts on her legs to dress up for a Nikki Lane concert.

Lane has a clothing store in Nashville — High Class Hillbilly. When she tours, the bus with the band and gear drive ahead while Lane rides in a truck, exploring stores for handmade items. She buys boxfuls and mails them back to Tennessee.

“I go into an antique mall and they look at us like we’re going to rob them,” Lane said. “(Then) I have that Pretty Woman moment where I ring up $1,000. … I am the only supplier of the store. The best way to do is from out on the road. I am nervous about changing to a bus. I am certain things will change.”

A change from clubs to arena seems inevitable, which would probably end her antiquing excursions from a personal truck.

Playing a parlor acoustic guitar and singing with a voice reminiscent of Dolly Parton or Brenda Lee’s, Lane played her big hits such as “Highway Queen” and “700,000 Rednecks,” along with three phenomenal  songs she’s already written for the next album. “One More Drag” is a singular yet quintessential country blues tune.

Between songs, Lane spoke and interacted with the crowd. She has charisma, candor and humor and all the talent in the world. The sentient crowd savored watching the rising star.

 — Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Nikki Lane poses for a photo with a fan who has seen 11 of her shows.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

About 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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