Portland’s TapWater flows into Lake Tahoe

Tahoe Onstage

Portland’s TapWater inundates Live at Lakeview on Thursday and Alibi Truckee on Friday.
Larry Sabo / Tahoe Onstage photos

Members of the TapWater band knows it’s easier to keep a conga line going than a tour bus.

During most shows, each of the players pick up some sort of percussion instrument and proceeds to march. Recently at the Chickenstock Music Festival in Alaska, the line grew to an estimated 600. In an attempt to return to the stage, the TapWater musicians figured their best chance was to get to the back of the line.

The full-circle troupe arrived for good in Portland, Oregon, around 2007. The band was on its way from San Diego when the bus broke down near Grants Pass.

“We had the choice of going back to where we came from or pushing on to Portland,” guitarist Ravi Laird said. “Either way, we knew we would be broke when we got there.”

The band sold the bus, made it to shows in Portland and befriended owners of a lavender farm. The musicians worked on the farm for rent and busked on the streets for food money. Eventually, they learned their style of music – call it world twang – is more popular in the Great Northwest than in the San Diego area.

It was around that time that TapWater added Humboldt State music students Simon Lucas and Rudy Slizewski at a festival in Benbow, right on the Humboldt-Mendocino county line. Steve Moore plays banjo. The bass position rotates, but it will be filled by Sid Nash for a run this week at Lake Tahoe.

TapWater headlined Live at Lakeview on Thursday, and will play Friday at the Alibi Ale Works – Truckee Public House.

Tahoe music fans are familiar with TapWater’s Rudy Slizewski, who up until a year and a half ago was the steelpan player with the Scott Pemberton Band.

TapWater has two albums produced by six-time Grammy winner Steve Berlin, who said the group is “the greatest schizophrenic band ever, in regard to their genre of fluid approach.”

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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