Karl Denson releases album today, plays Friday and Saturday in Crystal Bay

Tiny Universe
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe includes Crystal Bay, where the band plays Feb. 7-8.

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe’s latest album, “New Ammo,” includes a few songs that the band’s legion of fans in Tahoe may already know.

The band leader and saxophone player said he’s worked a few of them on the road and he’s been here several times since the band’s third album release in 2009.

Karl Denson
Karl Denson’s first album since 2009 was released today. He performs Friday and Saturday in the Crystal Bay Casino.

In the last couple of years, Denson has performed at Snowlive in Crystal Bay Casino, where he also appeared with Anders Osborne in a “Sticky Fingers” tribute. He headlined a show with Robert Randolph at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and he played an outdoor summertime concert at Northstar California.

“We just like it up there,” Denson said. “We’ve been playing there for years, so it’s become a part of our normal yearly routine.”

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe settles in for two nights, Friday and Saturday, in the Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room. Two of Reno’s funkiest bands, Mojo Green and Jelly Bread, will play the Red Room after-party. Keyboardist Robert Walter will perform with the Tiny Universe.

“We always play together as long as are in the same vicinity,” Denson said.

“New Ammo” was released today (Feb. 2), but there are already two singles which have received attention: “Paste,” an uptempo duet with Nicki Bluhm, and “Sure Shot,” a Beastie Boys cover.

“The main thing about this album is that it’s really collaborative,” Denson told Tahoe Onstage. “The idea was to make a record together. ‘Brother’s Keeper’ (2009) was my writing. On this record we wrote tunes together and people bought into it, so it’s much bigger in scope.”

Players on “New Ammo” include bassist Chris Stilwell, keyboardist David Veith, guitarist D.J. Williams, trumpet player Chris Littlefield, drummer John Staten, baritone sax player Daniel De La Cruz and trombonist Andy Geib. Walter also appears, as well as Mike Dillon (who plays April 4 in the Red Room).

Denson played with Lenny Kravitz during the “Let Love Rule” days before he was a founding member of the Greyboy Allstars. He started the Tiny Universe 20 years ago, and that’s when he said he became serious about playing flute as well as his usual saxophone. Nowadays, Denson also plays guitar, but he hasn’t done so yet onstage, according to a press statement.

Denson enjoys doing tributes to some of his favorite music, including the Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” tour with Osborne, a Beastie Boys homage with the band Slightly Stoopid and most recently “A Ray Charles Boogaloo Dance Party.”

He told Tahoe Onstage he has a couple of more projects in the works, but would not give any details.

“If I told you, I’d have to kill you,” he said.

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe with special guest Robert Walter

When: 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7-8

Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room

Tickets: $25 in advance or $30 at the door

Red Room after-party: Mojo Green on Friday, Jelly Bread on Saturday

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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