ALO’s Tour d’ Amour IX includes love for Blake Beeman.
Saturday’s concert will be the first for the band since the Crystal Bay Casino sound engineer died last summer. ALO was one of Beeman’s favorite bands, and the feeling’s mutual. Bass player Steve Adams said ALO will dedicate the performance to Beeman.
“I think that would be a nice gesture,” Adams said. “We all loved Blake. We knew him even before we started playing Crystal Bay. For the last 10-15 years when we’d pull into Tahoe he was almost always the first guy we’d see. He was always there to greet you and he’d have ideas about the sound.
“He was one of the nicest, sweetest guys I’ve ever met, so friendly and so welcoming. It is really sad to be without him. We’ll pay some respect to the tree.”
Blake’s Tree is planted in the Crown Room next to the soundboard. Beeman was present for the venue’s first 1,000 shows. His spirit and the tree will be there for all of the rest.
While this is the ninth Tour d’ Amour for the band also known as Animal Liberation Orchestra, it started the annual tour 10 years ago. It includes stops at the band’s favorite California venues, and, like this year, usually plays in Santa Barbara on Valentine’s Day, keyboardist Zach Gill’s hometown.
This year ALO is celebrating the 10th year anniversary of their first Brushfire Records album “Fly Between Falls.” The band plans to play the album live in its entirety at their Fillmore show in San Francisco on Friday Feb. 27. Adams said ALO will play a mix of songs from all their album releases plus some special love-themed covers for the occasion.
He spoke to Tahoe Onstage during a break from a studio, where the band is working on a fifth album.
“We’ve been trying to find time to get together since last fall,” Adams said. “Our schedules are so crazy.”
Adams is the full-time bassist for Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers. Gill plays keyboards with Jack Johnson and guitarist Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz recently performed shows with the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh and has been touring with Steve Kimock’s Tribute to Jerry Garcia, and drummer Dave Brogan plays with Brokedown in Bakersfield. We apologize for not listing the additional bands with which the ALO members play, but there are a whole lot of them.
ALO rented studio time in order to force the players get started on a new record, and Adams said the time together this month has been productive.
“We’ve gotten quite bit of work done,” he said. “We’re all surprised how much closer to a record we are. I don’t think anyone thought we’d be this close. We might finish up by spring and have it out by fall. That’s the loose timeline.”
Adams, Lebo and Gill started playing music together when they were seventh-graders in Saratoga, Calif. They attended college in Santa Barbara. ALO is a staple of the High Sierra Music Festival. Last year Adams, Lebo and Brogan playd with Kyle Hollingsworth from the String Cheese Incident and Jen Hartswick from the Trey Anastasio Band to form a group called Incidental Animals (see photos). That’s where the ALO guys bonded with the T Sisters, who are on the Tour d’ Amour IX.
“They Blew Me away at High Sierra last year,” Adams said. “Their vocal harmonies are amazing. They are smart and charming with good stage presence.”
According to a press statement, “A portion of proceeds from Tour d’Amour are donated to non-profit organizations who work to bring music to children. For the duration of this ninth installment of the Tour d’Amour, money raised will benefit Creative Arts Charter School in San Francisco who provide hands-on, arts-integrated public education to primary and middle school students in the San Francisco Unified School District.
Dedicated to Blake Beeman
Openers: T Sisters
When: 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21
Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
Red Room after-party: the Brothers Gow
Tickets: $22 in advance or $25 at the door