Big Red back on the bandstand at Hard Rock

Carolyn Dolan
Carolyn Dolan and Big Red shine on stage at Vinyl on Friday, April 1.
Concert photos by Kurt Johnson / Tahoe Onstage

Big Red doesn’t get together often these days, but when it does it’s usually at Vinyl in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Bandleader Carolyn Dolan mostly has been focusing on jazz since last summer’s release of “How Deep is The Ocean,” by Dolan and Peter Supersano. And Dolan’s longtime musical partner Mick Clarke is about to begin a new band, a trio appropriately named Mick Clarke.

But on April 1, Big Red were be back onstage for the fourth time in Vinyl, the 14-month-old venue that features a mix of local and national bands every Friday and Saturday, often for no cover charge.

Tahoe Onstage
Mick Clarke and his Gibson 335.

Joining Dolan and Clarke were musicians familiar to Tahoe music fans. Former Tahoma resident Bob Wider, who now lives in the Bay Area, on bass. Steve Self was be the drummer, and Ron Savage was on keyboards.

A versatile and talented band, Big Red can play any style of music, but often leans heavily on funk and blues-based rock and roll.

Clarke and Dolan have played together since 1989 when they were in the Western swing and rockabilly band the Outpsyders. In fact, Dolan last summer was honored for her vocal and harmonica work with that band when she was named to the Western Swing Hall of Fame in Sacramento, her native town.

South Lake Tahoe-based Big Red was formed a decade later, the title given for two red-headed band members. However, the moniker is sometimes mistaken for Clarke’s fiery red Gibson 335 guitar.

Clarke, a North London native, was a late arrival from the British Invasion who became stranded and remained in the United States. He played with the Roy Young Band and befriended Jeff Beck, using the latter’s famed Les Paul during a recording session. Clarke came to the U.S. to tour with Hudson Ford (John Ford and Richard Hudson), an offshoot of the Strawbs. Hudson Ford was going to open for the Strawbs, but the tour was canceled, leaving Clarke in Los Angeles.

Clarke teamed with another British ex-pat Long John Baldry, the famed bluesman who had settled in Canada. He landed at Lake Tahoe in 1978 and he and his wife had a child in 1985 when Clarke started his business Signs of Tahoe.

Clarke’s new band includes Geary Arthur, a bass player who lives in Fernley, and Danny Barnes, a drummer who plays in numerous bands, including Big Red and Lavish Green. The band Mick Clarke debuts Saturday, April 9, in the Lakeside Inn.

Clarke appreciates his opportunity to share the bandstand with Dolan.

“She’ a great bandleader and has been in loads of bands over the last several decades,” Clarke said. “She’s a great singer and fantastic harp player, and that’s what separates her from the rest.”

Vinyl is a great room with a fantastic stage and lighting, Clarke said.

Tonight, Reno classic rockers the Greg Golden Band returns to Vinyl for a free show. The doors open at 8:30 p.m.

Related story: Images from Greg Golden Band at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. LINK

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    Tahoe Onstage
    Mick Clarke and his Gibson 335.

ABOUT Tim Parsons

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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