There was electricity in the air. It was worrisome.
Would the shoreline concert on Lake Tahoe be canceled due to a thunderstorm? Wouldn’t that be the luck of a bluesman?
The first Lakeview Commons appearance by Dennis Johnson & The Revelators was a chilly occasion during Memorial Weekend’s Big Blue Music & Brews Festival. This time, the band was slated as the most straight-ahead blues headliner in the 90-event history of Live at Lakeview, a summertime Thursday series.
But menacing dark clouds that hovered North Shore did not roll south, and the show began before a sparse crowd that grew as the music played.
Johnson is a fiery slide guitarist, and he warmed listeners with a 12-string dobro, an electric Stratocaster, and a Martin parlor, circa 1970.
A newly released album, “Revelation,” Johnson’s fourth, recently hit No. 1 on Roots Music Report’s Top 50 Blues Rock Album Chart. From it, the band played a gospel song, “Salvation Bound.”
That’s when it began to happen.
“I think in music, maybe in 10,000 years, we will understand what it is from an energy standpoint. But there’s something there,” Johnson said a few days earlier in an interview about the show. “You go to a concert and there’s that moment onstage or in the crowd and you feel that energy. It’s something. You can’t quantify it yet, but gospel music has it and you can almost feel it.
“I’ve noticed that water is very similar to that. I’ve been near waterfalls and there’s this energy. And people on the ocean. Any of these kinds of things where you are around water, and you can feel something there. It’s weird. I think music is tied into that somehow. I just sense that.”
Add a glorious tangerine sunset to the water and the music, and the energy is palpable.
Johnson said the band would play two more songs. But there were at least seven.
The beach suddenly became jam-packed with ebullient, outgoing people of all ages.
A photographer who tries to be inconspicuous was happy, too. Johnson had given him permission to use flash lighting which allowed onstage exposures that matched the brilliant clouds. He was approached by several loquacious revelers.
“This guy is incredible!”
“What a great band!”
“Hey, take our picture!”
“Do you get to live here all year long?”
The band played the Dr. John’s syncopated “Iko Iko.” And another person said, “He’s sure got the beat.”
Between songs, drummer Jim Frink took photos of the lake. During a song, Andre Stone took photos with his left hand as he played a keyboard with his right.
The show ended in darkness, despite a plea from someone: “Two more songs.”
As the energy faded, that man — and everyone else — could be comforted with an assurance that after an experience such as this, Dennis Johnson & The Revelators will be invited back to Lake Tahoe.