It’s springtime in Tahoe, and the Ditchweed Harvest is in full swing.
Ditchweed Harvest is an acoustic trio made up of Mike Corey (guitar, vocals), Jeff Nicoletta (guitar, vocals, harmonica) and Paul Nanzig (bass, vocals). The group came together as students in a local music class in 2011.
“All three of us met at the rock ensemble class about six years ago now, at the community college here with Eric Hellberg,” Corey said. “We did about two or three quarters in the class together and then we kind of decided that we wanted to see if we could form a band and have some fun and play some acoustic music with two guitars and Paul’s bass.”
While each of the members had been a casual musician for years, the class at Lake Tahoe Community College and subsequent band project was the first that they had sat down to really hone their chops and play in front of audiences.
“Each of us, especially Jeff and I, had been playing for decades, but very little,” Corey said. “In my case, and I think in his case we didn’t do anything with it until rock ensemble, and then we got the bug and started really cooking after that, practicing and learning.”
The group wasted little time before heading out to [pullquote]I guess it resembles, probably, cannabis, and so it was being harvested from the ditches on the side of the road, and they would call that the ‘ditchweed harvest,’ but it was just hemp. I’m not sure, but there’s probably some cannabis back there that ends up in the same spots.”[/pullquote]perform, first appearing live in South Lake Tahoe in 2012.
“We did a few of the open mics in town, I think the first we did was the American Legion, did that for a few times and slowly added songs,” Corey said. “Then we went over to Casey’s in Round Hill and played there a few times, and got some positive feedback and kind of went from there.”
While Ditchweed Harvest appears primarily as a trio, the band is occasionally joined by local drummer and Tahoe Onstage photographer Kurt Johnson. The group is also sometimes accompanied by an out-of-town keyboard player, Corey said.
Musically, the band focuses on acoustic takes of a wide range of classic rock and country music, with an emphasis on two and three part vocal harmonies. Head out to a show and you’re liable to hear the Eagles, Neil Young, and the Moody Blues alongside Jimmy Buffet, Toby Keith, Alan Jackson, and much more.
“We enjoy people hearing songs that we play that a lot of people don’t hear sometimes, some Jesse Colin Young or some songs that are more obscure,” Corey said. “Even the Moody Blues, a lot of people don’t play the Moody Blues, so it’s fun to do some of the not to popular songs, throw them in there just for a little change.”
Ditchweed Harvest can be found weekly around South Lake Tahoe and Stateline, at Ten Crows BBQ on Friday nights, at the Flowerpot Stage at California Burger Co. and Azul Latin Kitchen midday Saturdays, and at the Outpost Brewery on Sunday afternoons. Corey also appears as a solo act at the Flowerpot Stage on Wednesdays during the day.
The band has recently begun branching out to other venues in town, with one Friday appearance at the Beacon Bar & Grill each month of June, July and August, as well as a show at Cabo Wabo Cantina at Harvey’s Casino on Tuesday, June 5.
Corey and Nicoletta also aim to work on some of their original tunes in the not-too-distant future.
“Both Jeff and I have some songs, I have some that I’ve been working on for decades, just had in my mind and I need to finish them,” Corey said. “Jeff has probably more than I do, he has four or five songs that I know of that we want to work on and finish. So that’s another focus of ours here before too long.”
Wondering about the group’s name? It’s a reference to some old-timey hemp collection, brought to the group by Nanzig from recollections of his native Michigan.
“Back when they were growing hemp during World War II and using it for ropes for the military for the war effort, somehow it ended up growing on the sides of the roads down South and in the Midwest,” Corey said. “I guess it resembles, probably, cannabis, and so it was being harvested from the ditches on the side of the road, and they would call that the ‘ditchweed harvest,’ but it was just hemp. I’m not sure, but there’s probably some cannabis back there that ends up in the same spots.”
For their part, the lads of Ditchweed Harvest are stoked to have the opportunity to perform live around town, for which they credit Ted Kennedy, co-owner of a number of Stateline restaurants and ardent promoter of live, local music.
“We are all very appreciative of Ted’s support of live music,” Corey said. “We’ve really enjoyed it, and that’s probably been the biggest boon to our playing in our time onstage is his willingness to have us play.”
One other thing that gives these fellows the jollies? As much audience singalong action as possible.
“We definitely enjoy having people appreciate our music and our harmonies,” Corey said. “We love it when we see them singing along with us to all the classics.”
– Josh Sweigert