It’s impossible to talk about Bluesdays without smiling. That goes for people who’ve attend the Tuesday summertime event and the artists who’ve play the Tahoe Palisades tradition.
Now that we’ve quashed a misconception about blues music being sad, let’s learn about 2023’s 12-show lineup and hear from the artists who’ve been on the bandstand and are happy to know when the Tahoe audience loves them, they will be invited back.
“Last year I almost levitated off the stage because it was so amazing,” said Dennis Jones, a triple-threat blues-rocker from Los Angeles who will perform Tuesday, Aug. 8.
The free concerts in The Village at Palisades Tahoe start at 6 p.m., with the exception of the Fourth of July, when there will be an unprecedented doubleheader with Mighty Mike Schermer and his band set to play at 3 p.m. followed by slide guitar master Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings at 5 p.m.
Two bands to make Bluesdays debuts will be Too Slim & The Taildraggers on June 27 and Rocky Athas on July 25.
A Bluesdays experience is like no other.
“There are other venues in different cities that have concerts that are free to the public during the week but the location and vibe of Bluesdays is definitely unique,” said Alastair Greene, an Austin, Texas-based artist who makes his fourth appearance on July 18. “To have all those cool restaurants as well as the people watching from their balconies is a really cool thing. Not to mention the setting up in the mountains at a ski lodge.”
The venue is the site of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games.
“Bluesdays is just so special because of that appreciation for the blues and that love you feel just walking right in, with the people just ready for it.” said L.A. artist Laurie Morvan, who plays for the second time on Aug. 1. “The closest thing that I can compare it to is SummerSounds in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. But Bluesdays is different because it’s really about rocking the blues whereas SummerSounds is all kinds of styles of music.”
“I can’t compare it to anything,” said the Bay Area’s J.C. Smith, who returns for the third-straight year on Aug. 29. “It’s at the beginning of the week, first of all, and it draws tons of people. It’s a great time, the people are awesome. They are really enthusiastic about what we lay down. They give us great energy.”
“There used to be gigs like that in the day, but not anymore. It’s definitely unique nowadays,” said harmonica virtuoso Mark Hummel, who for the first time at Bluesdays on July 11 will be accompanied by legendary guitarist Junior Watson.
“There are other places that have (summertime blues shows) but the Tahoe Bluesdays, I don’t think there’s any places that are nicer and more fun to do or have a greater crowd,” said Florida saxophonist Terry Hanck, who plays Aug. 22.
“I find it unique, especially because of the location and the fact that it’s very family oriented,” Jones said. “I am sure there are other things throughout the country that are like that, but I’ve been to only one or two that are even close, and I think that Bluesdays is the best, period.”
Everyone has their favorites, but Roy Rogers and Chris Cain are undeniably two of the highest regarded guitarists in the blues world.
“Roy Rogers is a living legend,” Mighty Mike Schermer said. “There is nobody else who plays like that. Slide guitar players who you can recognize from the first few barres, I mean how many guys are there? There’s Derek Trucks, Sonny Landreth and Roy Rogers and Bonnie Raitt.”
“As a guitar fan, there’s a lot of great players on the series, but I think most would agree that Chris Cain is an absolute monster on the instrument,” Greene said.
Cain has played Bluesdays more than any other artist.
“Once you think you’ve seen everything he does, Chris Cain will pull something out of his back pocket and blow you away,” Jones said. “He’s one of those guys whose very old school and very humble and those are my favorite kind of people. People that are so good I don’t think even they know how good they are. They don’t boast about it. They do all their speaking though their music and he’s a true gentleman.”
“I’ve never played anywhere where everybody’s so happy,” Cain said. “My band is like a bunch of flowers and if you put water on them, they just bloom. Those (Bluesdays) folks there are just so receptive.”
Chuck Dunn, whose Blues Monsters have opened every Bluesdays season and will do so again on June 20, picked his favorite: “I would really like to see Alastair Greene. I haven’t seen him but I play him on my radio (101.5 FM Truckee Tahoe Radio ‘Choose Blues Hour’) show. I really like his style and guitar tone.”
Dunn is recovering from an October car wreck that landed him in a hospital for multiple days. His most concerning injury is a severed left thumb tendon, which was surgically reattached with “duct tape and baling wire.” Dunn hopes to be playing again for the June 20 opener with the Blues Monsters complete with the Groove Monster Horns and guest singers Kendal Naughton and Kandy Xander.
“It’s a dream gig for a local band to be on a dream roster of great names in the blues world,” Dunn said.
Schermer, who has a handful of solo albums and has been a sideman with Marcia Ball and Elvin Bishop, has made Truckee his primary home in recent years.
“I’ve been trying to find a way onto that Bluesdays stage for years,” Schermer said. “I was in that place between local musician and international touring guy. I guess they never knew where to put me.”
Schermer sat in with Terry Hanck last year, and don’t be surprised his he hops onstage with Hanck and others this summer.
“I knew Mike since he was 19,” Smith said, “and I think he’s one of the greatest young cats around.”
Appearing at Bluesdays this year for the first time, Too Slim & The Taildraggers, is a Southern blue-rock band that formed in Spokane, Washington. Each member in the trio sings. Tim “Two Slim” Langford has released 14 studio albums.
Also debuting is Texas guitarist Rocky Athas, who for eight years played with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. A longtime collaborator with producer Jim Gaines, he has numerous albums and has recorded with Joe Walsh and Buddy Miles.
Where: The Village at Tahoe Palisades
Time: 6 p.m.
6/20/2023 The Blues Monsters
6/27/2023 Too Slim & The Taildraggers
7/4/2023 Mighty Mike Schermer Band, 3 p.m.
7/4/2023 Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings at 5 p.m.
7/11/2023 Mark Hummel Band ft. Junior Watson
7/18/2023 Alastair Greene
7/25/2023 Rocky Athas
8/1/2023 Laurie Morvan Band
8/8/2023 Dennis Jones Band
8/15/2023 Chris Cain
8/22/2023 Terry Hanck
8/29/2023 J.C. Smith Band