Danielle Nicole concertgoers just can’t keep from smiling.
The Grammy nominated blues-rocket singer and bass player is on a mini tour through Northern Nevada and California with the Alastair Greene Band. They lit up Crystal Bay Casino’s Red Room on Friday night.
“Danielle Nicole is one of the best soul blues singers of our time,” Greene said during his opening set. To all who have heard her sing, that’s as evident as Lake Tahoe is blue and snow is white.
She has the vocal range of Linda Ronstadt and can snarl like Etta James. Best of all, she doesn’t try to show off and sing too many notes as she shakes her long hair and rocks out. It was the first time some of the crowd were seeing Danielle Nicole. Their look of astonishment and delight gave them away.
During the trio’s performance, which turned into an all-out head-banging show, Danielle Nicole reveled in her musical roots. She sang a song that bluesman Blind Willie Johnson recorded in 1928, “Lord I Just Can’t Keep From Crying.” Brandon Miller played tasty slide guitar and drummer Cameron Tyler hammered the beat in unison with the bandleader’s bass.
Ostensibly, it was a night of blues. But both Danielle Nicole and Greene are just as much rockers.
Greene, whose 45-minute set felt like about 15, treated the crowd to “Love or Confusion,” a song from Jimi Hendrix’s debut album, “Are You Experienced.” It was a song he had worked out for a “Terrifying Trios Tribute” holiday show. Greene was accompanied by longtime bandmate Jim Rankin on bass and Chuck Hammel on drums and – when the band drove over Donner Summit on the way out of town – tire chains.
Greene brought three guitars on the trip, which includes shows in Sacramento and San Jose. His Stratocaster is only being used for the Hendrix song.
In his downstairs room before the Crystal Bay show, Greene learned a tune that he would play with Danielle Nicole and he worked on an arrangement with his band upon hearing Rush drummer Neil Peart had died of brain cancer at the age of 67.
Before he played the last song of his set, Greene dedicated the tour to Peart. At the end of the tune “Three Bullets” the band segued into Rush’s “Spirit of Radio” for about 60 seconds.
Greene returned to the stage to play with Danielle Nicole on the Earl Thomas song, “I Sing the Blues.” It was just the second time guitarists Greene and Miller shared the stage. They share a mutual respect and dexterous aptitude to play the top and bottom strings with their thumbs and fingers while keeping their picks stashed and ready in the same hand.
After Greene left the stage, the Danielle Nicole Band proceeded to torch the night with Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar.” The ensuing set rocked more than two hours.
–– Tim Parsons