In an historic comeback, Valhalla Tahoe events will return this summer at the Tallac Historic Site.
The 24th season was wiped out due to a global pandemic, but No. 25 will be held with a schedule almost typical to ones from recent years. State-mandated regulations will be recognized with socially distanced concerts on the Valhalla Grand Lawn and Boathouse Theatre events requiring proof of vaccination for Covid-19.
“(2020) was financially devastating but I am proud we were not a factor in the increase of transmission of the virus,” said Michelle Morton, the operation and sales manager. Valhalla is supported by donations and revenue from weddings held at the Grand Hall and Grand Lawn, which were not able to be held in 2020.
The first outdoor concert will be Tuesday, June 15 at 4:30pm. Four more shows will be held at 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays in July and August. More could be added if COVID-19 guidelines for indoor capacity are relaxed.
Morton and staff worked Monday from Valhalla’s office, a former guest cabin, on what was once the Heller estate. Groucho Marx reportedly stayed there during on vacations in the 1920s. The venerable property on the Lake Tahoe shoreline was acquired by the U.S. Forest Service in 1971.
“I’ve been dreaming about this place all year,” stagehand Moxie Fox said.
Valhalla Tahoe also will present a play, “Murdered To Death,” a playwriting competition, “WordWave” and multiple performances by the Tahoe ImPRov Players, which, other than 2020, have appeared at the site ever since the Valhalla Tahoe’s second season in 1997. The band Dirty Cello will headline a 25th anniversary fundraiser event at the conclusion of the summer with all of the proceeds going to the Boathouse Theatre Improvement Fund.
“We missed seeing everybody and being able to host those events,” Morton said. “Patron and guest safety is the priority.”
The Boathouse Theatre, which has a capacity of 170, will be limited to 57 until state indoor capacity guidelines are relaxed. The Summer Concert Series on the Grand Lawn will be limited to 140. Tables will be set up for groups of two and six for $50 and $100, respectively. Ticket prices include one complimentary drink. Socially distanced lawn seating is free.
There will be new tables for the concertgoers and a new stage for the bands. Funds raised in the last five years are going toward the Boathouse Theater’s new LED lights and a digital sound system. Valhalla hopes to upgrade the sound system by Sept. 6’s anniversary bash.
The first bands booked by Blue Sky Events for the Summer Concert Series were ones that had 2020 shows canceled.
“We really wanted to offer the bands we had to cancel on first choice of dates this year,” Morton said. “Blue Sky Events did an incredible job picking bands that have a strong local following and have the sound and energy to command a large outdoor lawn venue.”
Here’s a look at the 2021 Summer Concert Series. Tickets go on sale to public May 1:
June 15: James Garner’s Tribute to Johnny Cash
Note: Reserved Tables for James Garner are SOLD OUT. Socially distant lawn seating is expected to fill up quickly. Please arrive early if you would like to bring lawn chairs for free socially-distant seating on the lawn.
Garner and his band have performed more than 500 professional shows, including a special concert at Folsom State Prison in 2008. Gene Beley, one of two reporters in Cash’s entourage who covered the historic 1968 concert at Folsom Prison, was also part of the 50th anniversary celebration with Garner’s band and Tara Cash. Here’s what Beley says about Garner and his show: “Garner and his band give concertgoers their money’s worth,” says Beley. “This act will not disappoint the people who wish to resurrect that classic Johnny Cash voice and rhythm.” In addition to performing across the United States, Garner’s group has released three full-length albums, making them the most recorded and published Johnny Cash tribute show in the nation.
July 21: Achilles Wheel
Achilles Wheel combines infectious high energy dance beats and stark lyrical ballads. Mixing Roots Rock storytelling with dance hall psychedelia they bring amazing energy to all their shows. Much like life itself, their music breathes in and out with joy and pain, hurtling forward likes a wheel, intent on hope and love. They play hard as a way to break down walls and celebrate life. The harsh light of the modern world does not diminish their idealism as we struggle to live free and have a good time… and in the end – hopefully make a difference. Achilles Wheel fearlessly sings out to these times, the here and now.
July 28: Tom Rhodes Band
Before you hear Tom Rhodes’s voice, you feel it — like a left jab to the jaw. Raspy and soulful, like Ray LaMontagne or a young Van Morrison, but with a soaring intensity that recalls Jackson Browne. The Oakland-based songwriter has spent more than a decade honing his honest, heartfelt brand of Americana, and learning to craft songs whose truth matches his passion as a performer. In that time, he has performed all over the US and Europe, released five albums, 2 two EPs, numerous singles, and even appeared on season 9 of “The Voice.” Tom’s songs and voice have been featured on dozens of TV shows and Movies, including Spenser Confidential, Hawaii 5-0, 9-1-1, Criminal Minds, and many more.
Aug. 11: The Grateful Bluegrass Boys
Grateful Bluegrass Boys are an acoustic string band from the Bay Area. Their primary mission is to get the audience singing and dancing along to beloved songs one might or might not expect from a string band. Their first CD includes songs by Paul Simon, Willlie Nelson, Led Zeppelin, Johnny Nash, The Eagles and the Grateful Dead. While the name of the band references the Grateful Dead, gratitude is at the core of the band. They feel incredibly fortunate to play music for people all over the country and they keep their setlists fresh and diverse. Recent shows include music by Ray Charles, Dire Straits, Neil Young and the Cars.
Aug. 18: Earles of Newtown
Earles of Newtown are an Electric Gypsy Jazz band cross-pollinating both vintage and modern beat culture into an intoxicating, crowd-pleasing elixir. This Vaudevillian inspired musical circus is comprised of an 8-piece wrecking crew of heavy hitters recruited throughout Northern California. Earles of Newtown have earned a reputation as a feature band with the potential to fill any dance floor in any venue or music festival. Earles of Newtown’s focus is on great original music, and providing the audience a highly entertaining stage presence featuring, the Ringmaster-like antics of the lead singer/washboard expert, Chad Conner Crow and shared with band founding member Earle Ford’s solid and intense stage presence as a musical director, trumpet-master and co-vocalist. The band is made entirely of All-star level players that include Western Swing Hall of Fame member, guitarist Bob Woods.