Bluff Caller shows its cards on Reno’s biggest stage

Tahoe Onstage
Within a year’s time Bluff Caller released an album, broke up and reunited for a major show. The Reno band opens for Weezer on Thursday, a capacity crowd at the Grand Sierra Resort.

Most appropriately, a band is answering the call of a lifetime in the poker Mecca dubbed the Biggest Little City in the World.

Most bands never get the call, and this one – Bluff Caller – was folding last spring when it played at The Saint in its hometown Reno. Bassist Greg Rea signed up for Special Forces military duty and it was the band’s going away performance. But an injured shoulder changed all of that. Rea has moved home and now the band will follow up that “last” show with one at Northern Nevada’s most prestigious venue, the Grand Theatre in the Grand Sierra Resort.

Bluff Caller will open for Weezer tonight in a show that’s expected to sell out.

“This is a cool moment for us,” said guitarist and lead singer Cody Rea. “There was a time when we were struggling to get out of the garage. It’s been six or seven years of building but now we’re in a place where people are comfortable letting us take the stage before a multi-million dollar production. We’re in a good spot. It’s a good day for Bluff Caller.

Joining brothers Cody and Greg Rea onstage will be drummer Dominic Kelly and guitarist/keyboardist and singer Spencer Mead. As the only support of the show, the band gets to play 45 minutes.

“It’s an insane position because usually a show like this has the local support of two or three acts, not just one band,” Cody Rea said. “It’s not like the lights are on and people are running around trying to find their seats. We’re going to be playing a little later and people will be settled in. It’s sink or swim. We’re main support and we’re hoping to kill it.”

Tahoe Onstage
Bluff Caller opens for Weezer on Thursday, Oct. 5.

The Rea brothers grew up in northwest Reno, where they played football for McQueen High School – that’s when Greg first hurt his shoulder. They come from a musical family.

“My mom was raised in Las Vegas and she was a showroom singer,” Cody Rea said. “I am biased but in my opinion she’s the greatest singer in the world. And my older brother was a vocal performance major in college.”

Cody played drums in church from the ages of 9 through 15.

“I never thought I’d be a singer but I need to get these lyrics out,” he said. “Drums are my first love and I will always love being a drummer. But you just can’t write songs being a drummer so eventually I was just drawn to guitar and keyboard.”

Rea’s drum background affects his songwriting.

“Growing up as a drummer and being fed Rush albums by my dad, I’ve just always has an inclination toward time signatures and interesting beats and luckily I have Dominic, who is an absolute killer on the drums,” he said. “We all really appreciate percussion and we want our percussion to get weirder and weirder as we continue to record.”

Before they became Bluff Caller, the quartet was named City of August. It played acoustic folk in 2011. Then, like a band of beat farmers mining for gold records, the musicians changed the name, plugged in the guitars and moved to Los Angeles in search of the truth. Rea calls it “an identity crisis/band makeover.”

“When the term Bluff Caller was coined, it was it was fueled by alcohol and drugs,” Rea said. “It was just basically a friend calling out a friend for being inauthentic; lovingly calling a buddy out for being full of shit. This is our attempt to be real and be raw and unapologetic.”

The move to Los Angeles didn’t last long.

“It was it was initially kind of an attempt to go get our creative juices flowing again and to find a producer to mix the album. We wanted to start building down there, but we ended up working six days a week and just commuting, spending all our money on gas. We weren’t being very creative and the whole situation didn’t work. It was fun being down there but the culture shock wears off and it becomes a grind and you realize living in a big old city like that is a whole different world.”

The full-length album, “Desert Party,” was mixed and mastered in Reno by Cody Rea and TC Twitchell and produced by the band members and released in November 2016. It was a follow-up to the 2014 EP “The Jungle Academy.” Bluff Caller also self-produced several “Live From The Moon Room” videos, the audios from which will be used for another EP, Rea said.

When Greg Rea, an adventurous outdoorsman, joined the military, Bluff Caller decided to call it quits and play the going-away show at The Saint. But the rigorous training was too much for Rea’s damaged shoulder. After nearly a half-year, he acquired a lighter bass and now Bluff Caller is back, with its first show being an improbable and tremendous opportunity.

“My mom says, if you don’t quit you win,” Cody Rea said. “Windows open and windows close. I am just super happy we’re all here and we have this time to turn some heads and get a look and hopefully get on the road and do something.”

-Tim Parsons

  • Bluff Caller
    Headliner:
    Weezer
    When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5
    Where: Grand Sierra Resort
    Tickets: Expected to sell out

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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