7th Heaven: Live at Lakeview talent floats like a butterfly

Live at Lakeview: Where friends meet each Thursday at Lakeview Commons in South Lake Tahoe.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

The seventh season of Live at Lakeview — the summertime concert series in South Lake Tahoe — will reach unprecedented heights, with national stars and cool splashes of Tahoe’s finest.

It also has a Music City flavor, with the shows booked by Nashville promoter Leslie Schultz – remember her? Schultz is a Tahoe native who has been with the beachfront series since its inception, partnering with Rob Guistina, who created On Course Events. Schultz will move back home for the summer of music at Lakeview Commons.

“I’m thrilled to return to my hometown and being able to bring Nashville with me is the cherry on top of a summer that is sure to be one for the books,” Schultz said. “As the lead talent buyer for our series, being based in Nashville for the past nine months has truly stepped up the level of talent in our lineup. Not only will our community get to enjoy new music, we’re able to help independent artists spread their music over to the West Coast. Many are performing here for the first time.”

Two bands will perform each week, with the openers playing at 4:30 p.m. and the headliners at 6. There are food, craft and beer vendors. People are encouraged to walk or bicycle to the park, where there is a free bike valet. A couple of years ago, South Lake Tahoe voters elected to make parking in the neighborhood free. However, the best parking spots are across the highway at the Recreation Center on Rufus Allen Boulevard.

Lakeview Commons is at the intersection of Lake Tahoe Boulevard (Highway 50) and Lakeview Avenue, across the street from the campground. Funds to build the granite amphitheater came from a California proposition approved by voters.

Check Tahoe Onstage each week for previews and concert reviews. Here’s a look at the stellar 2018 Live at Lakeview lineup:

June 21 — South Lake Tahoe Showcase: Mescalito with JT Chevallier and Helena Kletch

Mescalito is a five-piece psychedelic, jazz, rock, jam and soul band from South Lake Tahoe. Its members weave through a diverse catalog of music, playing live interpretations of classic songs. Improvisation is a cornerstone of their sound. Pulling from a deep well of music, Mescalito plays songs from jam-band favorites, blues icons, jazz/funk masters, soul artists and rock and roll classics. The band features musicians Martin Bush (guitar/vocals), Keith Ovelmen (bass), Lowell Wilson (keys/vocals), Chris Grant (drums), and Simon Kurth (guitar/vocals). They are all longtime staples of the music scene, some having toured nationally and internationally.

Singer-songwriter Helena Kletch is having quite a busy month. On June 19, she has a CD release party for “Grownup,” her third recording.  Growing up in New Jersey and Florida, Kletch was drawn to live music and performance from an early age. While enjoying considerable experience onstage as a youth, it wasn’t until moving to South Lake Tahoe in 2012 that she began to come into her own as a live musician. Since then, she has been a fixture in town.

June 28 — Southern Rock: Jack Berry with Erick Baker

Jack Berry has “a voice that could scare the venom out of a rattlesnake,” as Consequence of Sound describes it. Originally from Reno, Berry left Los Angeles after performing along the West Coast as duo, deciding Nashville would be a key in helping cultivate the style and sound he envisioned. It wasn’t long before the “ample supply of good hooks and riffs,” Nashville Scene explained, eventually gained the praise of critics, earning him spots at well-known festivals including CMA Fest, North by Northeast in Toronto, New York City’s CMJ Music Marathon, SXSW’s Red Gorilla Festival and Hard Rock Cafe’s North American battle of the bands (which he won).

Singer-songwriter Erick Baker is a Tennessee native who makes his home in Knoxville. Unlike many musicians, he didn’t grow up onstage. He taught himself how to play guitar after college. Since then “music has been one of the greatest blessings in my life,” he said. “It’s taken me to parts of the world I would’ve never seen and connected me with people I would’ve never met. It’s given my life purpose.” Baker has shared the stage with the likes of John Legend, James Blunt, Gavin DeGraw, Edwin McCain, the Goo Goo Dolls, Grace Potter, Brandi Carlile and Heart.

Tahoe Onstage

July 5 — Funk & Soul: Ideateam (CD release) with Darren Senn

On its “Kinetic” album release tour, Sacramento’s Ideateam will return to Live at Lakeview with a bandstand full of funk. It’s played at Crystal Bay Casino a number of times, and had been featured at the Hangtown Music Festival. It also was part of an unforgettable jam session with Eric McFadden, Lantz Lazwell and members of Fishbone at Kirkwood.

South Shore’s Darren Senn is beginning to bust out nationally. Early this year, he released a critically acclaimed full-length album, “Detrimental Tendencies.” Senn first picked up the guitar in 2000, when a close friend taught him his first chord and he learned his initial song. “It was the ever-so-friendly E minor, which is in the first song I learned, ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,’ ” he said. Senn immediately dove into strumming and singing, and was soon creating his own original material.

July 12 — Rock and Roll: Scott Pemberton Band with The Connor Party

He’s the Timber Rocker, a hippie superhero and the Bruce Lee of rock and roll. Portland, Oregon’s Scott Pemberton is the most popular artist in the history of Live at Lakeview. His backstory is incredible. Pemberton was a college music instructor, studio producer and member of several bands. He was nearly killed in a traffic accident. It took months for him to recover from his traumatic brain injury. When he did, Pemberton picked up a guitar and was shocked learn of his virtuosity. With his schedule cleared, he had an opportunity to restart his career. He decided to create his own band and tour the country. He’s been coming to Live at Lakeview ever since. The only side effect from accident is that he cannot wear a guitar strap. So he places his instrument on a bar stool and attacks it like, well, the Bruce Lee of rock and roll.

No, the Connor Party is not a Fine Young Cannibals tribute. Its members actually prefer Base Camp Pizza. One of Lake Tahoe most popular bands, The Connor Party is an American-rock and roll band fronted by brothers Adam and Jeff Connor, who are from Finger Lakes, New York. Adam Bergoch and Alex Bergoch are also in the group, along with the outlandish and ubiquitous bassist Todd Christensen.

July 19 — Country: Christie Huff Band with Patrick Walsh

Christie Huff is a country singer songwriter who brings a pop touch to her soulful sound. She’s an L.A. girl now, but she attributes her country background to growing up in Arizona. Trips to Nashville several times a year to cowrite with other songwriters keep her ties to country strong. She recorded two CDs in Nashville. Starting out as a solo acoustic performer, Huff is well-known in Los Angeles and Orange County, and she now performs original songs both acoustically and with her band at venues including Hotel Café and The Viper Room. She recently opened for Chris Bandi at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, and is excited to be opening for Jason Aldean at Country Fest in Wisconsin. Her single “The Way You Move” has been described as a “combination of the current pulse of Nashville, with elements of hip-hop, pop, and a sultry melody.”

Story-teller, producer and multi-instrumentalist Patrick Walsh brings a fresh sound from the world of no genres. Born and raised in the gold rush towns of Northern California, he often incorporates local history and experiences into his songs. Introduced to music through the piano at age 6, he now plays and records with nearly 20 different instruments. Walsh has been steadily performing his one-man band originals, live opening up for such acts as Hank Williams III and Wayne “The Train” Hancock. A firm believer in “if you want it done right, do it yourself” Walsh writes, plays all instruments, records, masters and even does most of the art work for his albums. Owner of Hangtown Studios in Placerville, he has also created his own record label, Lo Cal Music, along with his genre CaliCountry. With 45 previously released albums, he is now focusing on live shows.

July 26 — Americana: Old Salt Union with The Young Fables

Old Salt Union is a string band founded by a horticulturist, cultivated by classically trained musicians and fueled by a vocalist/bass player who is also a hip-hop producer with a fondness for the Four Freshmen. It’ this collision of styles and musical vocabularies that informs the players’ fresh approach to bluegrass and gives them an electric live performance vibe that seems to pull more from Vaudeville than the front porch. Violinist John Brighton joins primary vocalist and bassist Jesse Farrar, along with mandolinist Justin Wallace, banjo player Ryan Murphey (the horticulturist) and guitarist Rob Kindle. “Old Salt Union has the groove and the chops of a great string band, balanced with infectious rock and roll energy. Their music occupies that sweet space between Old Crow folk and Yonder Mountain jam,” summed up No Depression.

Even old timers gotta love The Young Fables, whose followers are known as “Youngins.” The Young Fables are a promising modern-traditional country duo comprised of three-time American Idol veteran Laurel Wright and accomplished guitarist and vocalist Wesley Lunsford. The act hails from Maryville, Tennessee. They’ve appeared with such acts as Lauren Alaina, Josh Turner, Sara Evans, Chris Janson, Randy Houser, The Band Perry, Rascal Flatts and Chris Lane, quickly becoming a breakthrough faces on the country  and Americana scene. This year, The Young Fables released their sophomore album titled ‘Old Songs’ with Grammy Award winning producer Mitch Dane (Jars of Clay, Brandon Heath + Caedmon’s Call). These ten songs established the duo’s home in the Country/Americana community as a modern proclaimer and preservationist of classic country’s storytelling roots. Their latest music video, Half as Good is set to be featured on CMT this summer.

Tahoe Onstage

Aug. 2 — Gypsy Rock: Diego’s Umbrella with Drought Relief

It’s another curtain call for a one-of-a-kind band: Diego’s Umbrella returns for the third straight year. When it came back last year, singer Vaughn Lindstorm thanked the lake. “We are excited to play your shores again,” he said. “You are a wonderful body of water that has long been kind to us and we realize that you have recently had your bounty filled. While we don’t understand the science involved in that, we would appreciate if you keep the currents low and the sun high for us! Thank you very much.”

Although the winter snowpack was a disappointment this year, a wet spring has kept Lake Tahoe healthy and high. Nevertheless, Drought Relief is on its way. Actually, the band is already here. The classic rock band is based at South Lake Tahoe and features Aj Steed, Torg Hallin, Ron Blum and Zhiva Kirchanski.

The Divided Sky

Aug. 9 — Funk & Soul: Dirty Revival with Funktronik

Fronted by Portland native, Sarah Clarke, whose powerful vocals and engaging stage presence command attention, the band includes Evan “Evvnflo” Simko (guitar + MC), Terry Drysdale (drums), Jon Shaw (bass), Ben Turner (keyboards), Chris Hardin (tenor sax), Thomas Barber (trumpet). Many of them friends since high school, each player is as good as the next and all of them exceptional in their own way, Dirty Revival functions like a well-oiled machine with every part doing exactly what it’s supposed to. Dirty Revival’s democratic approach to music shows in its songwriting and original music incorporating several different genres. At times showcasing its unique take on the soul and funk sounds of the ’60s and ’70s, then straddling the line between rock band and pop band. The care the group takes in arranging original music is reflected in its cover choices, and it’s known for dynamic recreations of classic songs by artists ranging from NIN to Black Sabbath and Rage Against the Machine.

Funktronik is a homegrown South Lake Tahoe band, a three-piece funk, blues and rock outfit, “playing everyone’s favorites from the ’60s to now with our own funky twist.” Previous venue hotspots for Funktronik include Whiskey Dick’s Saloon, Base Camp Pizza and Outpost Brewing Co. at Base Camp Hotel in Stateline. The band is well known and well liked by the locals crowd.

Aug. 16 — SkaGrass: World’s Finest with Lonesome Locomotive

World’s Finest describes itself as “foot stompin’ Americana dance floor Instigators from Portland, Oregon.” With a songwriting style rooted in Americana, the band banks on its ability to transcend genres of all kinds. String-centric and bluegrass-inspired compositions seamlessly transition into three dimensional psychtrance, funk, and dub soundscapes, leaving audiences with a full circle experience of emotion and dance. Their musicians’ appreciation for punk and ska can be found peppered throughout their shows and albums, made evident by up-tempo, high-energy offerings. The band is Chris Couch (guitar/vocals), Evan Malfer (bass), Dan Hurley (banjo/vocals), Mike Apodaca (drums) and Sean McLean (sax/guitar/vocals).

​​Based in Northern California, Lonesome Locomotive writes, records and performs roots-rock, folk and jam music. Its musicians are familiar faces to some Tahoe-area fans, as Lonesome Locomotive has performed at the Hangtown Music Festival in Placerville. The band is Michael Rosen (guitar/vocals), Erin Cassidy  (drums), John-Paul McLean (bass/vocals), Jordan Feinstein (keyboardss/vocals) and Jay Chavez  (guitar/vocals). Born in San Francisco, its varied influences include Hank Williams, Kate Wolf, Phish, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Townes Van Zandt and Jerry Garcia.

Aug. 23 — Folk: Caitlin Jemma & The Goodness with The Daily Fare

Caitlin Jemma is a small-town girl with a big country heart. Raised in the high desert of Northern Nevada, her songwriting is influenced by a sense of adventure, reverie, and discovery. With a sound tempered by country and delivered with soul, Jemma brings a wholesome and enlivened energy to the deep-rooted traditions of storytelling folk. Jemma’s sweet-and-salty twang has earned comparisons to a young Iris Dement, with echoes of Gillian Welch & Valerie June. She’s excited to be opening this summer for Arlo Guthrie at a show in Oregon. A guitarist and vocalist, Jemma is joined by Megan Graham (fiddle) and Michael Steinkirchner (bass/guitar).

The Daily Fare is comprised of two northern-born songwriters who met on an island called Martha’s Vineyard and decided to give this “music thing” a try. They both relocated to Nashville to continue writing and playing together and called themselves The Daily Fare, creating songs and stories about the people and lives around them. They are Hannah Smith (lead vocals, guitar, strum stick, rhyme boss, soup inspector, sweater connoisseur) and Alissa Abeler (guitars, piano/keyboards, BGVs, accordion, coffee maker, reverse-parking pro). Their music blends Americana and alternative folk.

Tahoe Onstage

Aug. 30 — Reggae: Surprise Performance TBA with VTA plus Seth Hall, Miki Rae & Robbie Dub

The headliner for the series finale hasn’t been announced but history promised the band will be smokin.’ Previous reggae surprises at Live at Lakeview have been Lutan Fyah + The Riddem Rebels, Rocker-T and more!

VTA is short for Vincenzo Thomas Amato, an acoustic specialist with roots in Reno and SoCal. Miki Rae and Robbie Dub, the next generation of Lavish Green, will guest the finale for the second time. The teenage musicians are from Gardnerville, Nevada. Seth Hall played saxophone with Lavish Green, which performed at Live at Lakeview five times before its singer moved to Hawaii. Coincidentally, Miki Rae and Robbie Dub have an island vibe to their music.

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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