Are you lost in the mountains, cold, tired and starving for some rocking local music? Sink your teeth into the Connor Party, a South Lake Tahoe band playing regularly around the Lake Tahoe Basin.
The Connor Party is headed by Jeff Connor and Rob Roth on drums. Guitarist John Monroe now plays with Strange Weather, which has moved to Southern California.
“We love to just have special guests regularly,” Connor said. “We keep the set list fresh every night, and have a lot of fun and get people dancing, laughing and drinking.”
The Connor Party will appear Friday, Jan. 20, in the 7800 Bar and Grill at Kirkwood Mountain Resort.
The Connor Party formed in the winter of 2011-2012 after John Munroe and Connor met on the mountain.
“John and I met through working and riding at Kirkwood, and started playing together,” Connor said. “Things went well, just jamming together at Base Camp (Pizza) and at our house, things went well and we started booking shows and playing a bunch of places around town.”
Rob Roth signed on in 2014, rounding out the group’s sound with his drumming ability.
“He took the band to a new level,” Connor said. “We’re now able to play wedding receptions; we’ve done a bunch now, and rock out more, you see more dancing. He’s a super versatile drummer; he can play at all volumes very adeptly.”
This musical flexibility fits well with the Connor Party’s style, which is extremely varied, but centered around the rock trio. Connor described the base sound as “driving acoustic guitar with great lead guitar.”
“Our sound is very versatile, from Elvis to Tupac,” Connor said. “We have over 12 hours of music without repeating a single song.”
Improvisation and crowd interaction are two other key elements of a night with the Connor Party.
“A lot of improv, playing off of situations in the crowd,” Connor said. “We might write a whole song about a birthday girl if we find out a few facts about her. Or we might write a song about the snow that just fell, on the spot, completely improv. I think that’s one of the most interesting things to people who are watching.”
While the group can play a wide range of cover tunes, original music is every bit as important to its members. When it comes to songwriting, Connor’s source of inspiration is unique, to say the least.
“A lucky leprechaun lives under my bed and writes all the songs. That’s all I have for the creative process,” he said. “The songs are kind of folksy and roots based, with hints of harder rock, hints of punk and pop sensibilities.”
Fans of the band won’t have to wait long to get their hands on hard copies of Connor Party tunes in 2015.
“We’re putting an album out in July, we’re just beginning,” Connor said. “It’s all written, we have 15 songs and we’ll record and see which ones stick. It’s going to be all originals with one or two covers on the album.”
While the group is presently weighing its recording options, the focus will be on recreating the vibe of a Connor Party live performance.
“It’s going to be rootsy and raw, but done in a professional studio to capture the essence of our live energy,” Connor said.
For now, the band is enjoying its recent growth, and looking forward to the future. Along with the addition of Roth, 2014 saw the Connor Party sign on with a local promotion agency.
“We were picked up by Four Count Concepts, the booking agency,” Connor said. “They’re kind of like all-inclusive management and booking. It was a big step up. We’re playing in places we never would’ve played. They provide a lot of ground support, whether we need to borrow an instrument last minute or taking us to the Far-West Folk festival in Oakland.”
Aside from the upcoming album, the Connor Party is also looking forward to its summer tour slate.
“We’re excited for a bunch of shows in the summertime,” Connor said. “We actually really love playing weddings; we have a bunch of wedding receptions booked.”
The group is also keen on the scene in South Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Village, the Connor Party’s home turf, as it were.
The restaurant and bar is also a major source of the Connor Party’s guest list.
“Vinny, Helena, Darren, all the Base Camp people who have their solo act, Adam, they all get up and play with us and jam with us,” Connor said, also noting that he hopes to invite guest musicians to record on the group’s album.
ABOUT Josh Sweigert
Josh grew up on the California coast with a deep appreciation for bluegrass and string band music as well as the great outdoors. A guitarist and singer, he plays solo acoustic gigs in South Lake Tahoe.