Triple the funk: Black Star Safari, Dr. Delicious, Brandy Robinson shake up Whiskey Dick’s Saloon

Kurt Johnson/ Tahoe Onstage
The Guitar Mama Brandy Robinson opened the show at Whiskey Dick’s Saloon.                                        Tahoe Onstage photos by Kurt Johnson

A number of tracks converged Sunday in South Lake Tahoe. New tracks, deep tracks, double-back tracks.

In a funk-filled night at Whiskey Dick’s Saloon, three bands rocked into the early morning hours. Grass Valley’s Brandy Robinson, aka the Guitar Mama, joined Phoenix-based Dr. Delicious and South Lake Tahoe favorites Black Star Safari for the high-energy show.

Robinson opened with a nine-song set that featured her newly released “Midnight Mockingbird,” a slow, soothing tune; an upbeat “365 Days,” and a spirited, soulful rendition of “You Know I’m No Good,” an Amy Winehouse cover.

The Guitar Mama had joined the Phoenix crew the night before, performing on her home turf of Nevada City for a packed house at Cooper’s Ale Works. On Sunday, she was backed by bassist Adam Metroka and guest drummer Mike DeLaTorre.

DeLaTorre manages the Dr. Delicious band, enjoying its first out-of-state tour. At full strength, the group has 13 players, including a four-piece horn section. Eight took the road trip: lead singer/percussionist Matthew Vaiza, singer Rachel Villa, Kevan Aaron on guitar, Dane Stipp on bass, Lacour Lavante on keyboards, Dean Barker on saxophone, Jared Lester on trumpet, and DeLaTorre on drums.

Dr. Delicious takes pride in digging deep for its music, mostly 1970s funk. But you won’t hear this band playing Top 40 tunes.

“We do deep cuts,” DeLaTorre said. “We’re really big fans of jazz, funk and blues.” Vaiza has more than 9,000 records, providing ample material for the Dr. Delicious repertoire.

On Sunday, the crowd grooved to covers of diverse artists that included Baby Huey and the Babysitters (“Hard Times”), Johnny “Hammond” Smith (“Tell Me What To Do”), O’Donel Levy (“Freedom in Good Times”), and Earth, Wind and Fire (“C’Mon Children.”)

When everyone was good and funked up, the local duo Black Star Safari, with Daniel Green on guitar and Matthew Mandella on drums, closed the show with a rocking performance that had fans dancing the night away. Back in Tahoe after several weeks on the road, Safari ended with a pounding cover of “Black Betty” in what has become its signature closing song.

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Tahoe Onstage is an online entertainment and sports magazine covering Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Reno, the Carson Valley and June Lake.

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