Harrah’s Lake Tahoe is keeping with the blues on Tuesdays.
The free Center Stage show which began its run in February 2014 is expected to continue at least through Labor Day, according to Entertainment Manager Brian Chandler. Last summer the live music at Lake Tahoe was moved to Monday nights to avoid a conflict with the Tuesday Bluedays at the Village at Squaw Valley. However, the show has drawn well enough for organizers to feel Tahoe has enough music lovers to have blues on the same night on either side of the lake.
The Harrah’s house band is Buddy Emmer (guitar, harp, vocals), Kim Emmer (vocals), Dave Clark (bass), Kevin Clark (drums) and Mark Ishakawa (keyboard). A guest artist, usually a guitarist, is featured each week. There are three sets from 8 p.m. to midnight. The first is with the Buddy Emmer Band which plays its originals and covers songs, the second features music by the guest artist and the third is a jam with a lot of improvisation.
The Buddy Emmer Band learns about 12 of the guest artist’s tunes for the second set.
“Buddy is really great at what he does and the guys who work with him work hard to learn each and every artist to make him sound good,” said Pete L’Angelle, who was the guest artist May 19. “Every time I come up, it feels better each time. It’s very hip of Harrah’s to keep this going.”
Some of the recurring guests include Reno’s Rick Hammond and Rich Maloon, North Shore’s Chuck Dunn, Sacramento’s Jeff Watson and Vacavillain Matty “T” Taynton.
A new gunslinger in the mix is Joe Grissino, who next appears on May 26.
“I was pleasantly surprised with him,” Emmer said. “Joe Grissino is a great singer who sounds just like Eric Clapton. He fronts Uncle Funkle. It’s been cool working with him.”
Emmer is a longtime Reno player who also has a country band, Rustlers Heat, which often plays Wednesday’s country night across the street at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Lake Tahoe.
Originally from Dallas, Emmer compared L’Angelle to another Texan.
“He really funky and bluesy, authentic with a Jimmie Vaughan sort of vibe,” Emmer said. “He sings blues songs about the good, bad and ugly sides of relationships in life.”
L’Angelle, who lives in Fernley but often works in Los Angeles, is working on an album to be called “Highway 395,” which will include songs about towns along the way like Bridgeport and Bishop. He said he once wrote a song on a wet napkin while listing to B.B. King on a jukebox in Truckee’s Bar of America.
“(Inspiration for songs) happens mostly when on the upside or downside,” he said. “When everything’s alright and in the middle nothing much happens.”