“I still get excited,” Terry Hanck told the Bluesdays audience.
The feeling was mutual.
In what appeared to be the largest turnout of summer on July 12, The Village at Palisades Tahoe danced and cheered, smiled and laughed, while the famed silver-maned saxophonist from Florida sang and squawked and jumped and shouted through a warm evening into the gloaming. Blues comes in many hues, and Hanck’s is iridescent vintage rock ‘n’ roll.
“This is the best Bluesdays yet,” was an oft-heard comment from the buzzing crowd. What could be better? How about sit-in from Truckee’s celebrity bluesman.
After an intermission, Johnny Cat Soubrand handed his Telecaster guitar to surprise guest Mighty Mike Schermer, and Hanck’s West Coast quartet became a quintet. Soubrand played the rest of the show on his secondary guitar, a Stratocaster, because Hanck insisted Schermer remain onstage.
Hanck, 77, performs winters in Florida and summers in California, where he has built a large following with his band as well as from his time with Elvin Bishop during the “Fooled Around and Fell In Love” era. The sax player has just finished arduous run at the Alameda County Fair. He rolled into Olympic Valley – elevation 6,385 feet – hoping for time to catch a nap. Instead, he needed to do a sound check.
“I’m really tired,” he confessed before the show. He sure didn’t look it during the performance.
The adrenaline kicked in when he took the stage in front of the packed village. An hour after the show Hanck was still, let’s say, excited, as he tried to relax with a Jack and pilsner inside the Auld Dubliner, the popular Bluesdays after-party venue.
Changed into street clothes, including a Hank Williams’ T-shirt, Hanck sat at a table with old friends and he complimented the singing from a two-man reggae band, Truth Cartel. Bluesdays attendees, some shy, some bold, approached Hanck to shake his hand or invite him to the dance floor.
Hanck had another show to play the next day at the Little Fox Theater in Redwood City, but he was still wound-up from the performance and politely accepted another round of drinks.
“You know after playing 17-straight shows at the fair, I realize how really tight this band is now,” Hanck said. “This is the best show we’ve had all summer.”