Valhalla Tahoe shines on the shore as live music returns

James Garner’s Tribute to Johnny Cash plays at Valhalla’s Grand Lawn as live music returns to the Tallac Historic Site.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Tim Parsons

On one of those perfect Lake Tahoe days, a man stepped up to the microphone and greeted the Valhalla Grand Lawn audience: “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”

The man dressed in black was in fact James Garner, whose tribute band proceeded to play the iconic song “Folsom Prison Blues.” Denny Colleret twanged a solo on his Telecaster guitar and bassist Rick Duncan and drummer Nick Auriemmo drove the rhythm like a train rollin’ ‘round the bend.

And most of the crowd hadn’t been to a live concert in, I don’t know when.

On a blanket under a shade tree, South Lake Tahoe resident Joe O’Hara said, “If I didn’t have some live Dead, June Carter Cash and Little Feat tapes, I’d have gone nuts.”

The last show O’Hara and his wife, Lynn, attended was Feb. 7, 2020. An early Valentine’s Day treat, Achilles Wheel, which happens to be the next outdoor show at Valhalla, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 21.

“We’re here on a scouting mission,” quipped O’Hara, a big fan of the Placerville jam band.

Onstage, Garner’s Cash-like pompadour shone in the late afternoon light that danced between towering ponderosa and Jeffery pines. He shared the funny story behind “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” penned by Cash’s Highwaymen pal Kris Kristofferson.

He also told of his band’s remarkable show, playing for the inmates in 2008 inside Folsom Prison. Cash’s daughter, Tara Joan Cash, joined them onstage.

Between sets, Duncan, the bass player, said, “Usually, we play theater gigs. That’s totally different from this beautiful nature.”

Behind the tables for ticketholders, folks can watch and listen for free.

As the music played, a toddler toting a ukulele rushed the stage. But his mother reigned him in before he could get there. Young Jack Kelly kept trying as the show continued. Live music inspires such behavior.

  • Here’s a look at upcoming shows on the Valhalla Grand Lawn:
    Wednesday, July 21: Achilles Wheel
    Wednesday, July 28: The Tom Rhodes Band
    Wednesday, Aug. 11: Grateful Bluegrass Boys
    Wednesday, Aug. 18: Earles of Newtown
  • To learn about all of the shows at Valhalla Tahoe at the Tallac Historic Site in South Lake Tahoe, go to https://valhallatahoe.showare.com/

Related story: Valhalla Tahoe’s historic comeback.

Bill and Marilyn Bowden of Reno won a canvas print of Lucky Baldwin’s Steinway Piano taken in the Boathouse Theatre.
The man in black has a pompadour in the same hue.
Young Jack Kelly bolts toward the stage as mother Molly is about to spring into retrieval mode.
Jack plays a lick, giving mom time needed to intercept the toddler.

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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