Eric Krasno and crew float to Crystal Bay for soul revue

Eric Krasno work he created during the pandemic will be performed live onstage Saturday at the Crystal Bay Casino.

Eric Krasno found a silver lining in a black cloud. Buoyed with happiness and gratitude, he’ll touch down at Crystal Bay Saturday for a show that can be described as a soul revue.

A founding member of Lettuce and Soulive, Krasno made the most of the 2-year live music lockdown by starting new musical collaborations – which will be shared onstage in the Crown Room – building a studio at his new home in Pasadena, and he and his wife had their first child.

“A lot of musicians came home and a lot didn’t have a homelife they were happy with,” Krasno told Tahoe Onstage. “For me, I was supposed to go on all these different tours and when I got home, I realized this is what I needed. Especially in that time with my wife being pregnant.

“Counting your blessings is really important and as I get out now and tour again and promote this new record, I just think it’s so important to understand how blessed we are and to be thankful for all the great things in my life. The more that I express that gratitude, the happier I feel.”

Krasno’s music is influenced by soul, funk, rock and hip-hop. The acclaimed producer, guitarist and songwriter and winner of a pair of Grammy Awards, and Otis McDonald, a Bay Area producer-engineer and multi-instrumentalist, worked remotely to make Krasno’s new album, “Always.” They also put together a band, aptly named The Assembly, which also will back the tour’s co-headliner Son Little.

“The first song we made was for a charity, SongAid,” Krasno said. “We just loved how it came out and I started sending him songs. I would send guitar and vocals and he would add drums and keyboards and we would go back and forth, and we ended up making the whole record that way.”

The Assembly includes Kranso and McDonald’s proteges, guitarist James the eighth and drummer Curtis Kelley, respectively. Keyboardist Will Blades, who introduced Kranso and McDonald, is the fifth member of the band. McDonald plays bass.

Krasno’s last appearance at Crystal Bay Casino was in 2012 when his band Soulive headlined a weeklong event called Snowlive. Blades last played the venue in 2013 with Eddie Roberts West Coast Sounds.

Saturday will be Philadelphia folk and rock artist Son Little’s first Crystal Bay appearance. Krasno and Little have rotated their appearances during the tour. The format for the Crown Room show: James the eighth (a former “American Idol” contestant) plays a solo set, followed by Krasno, then Little and ending with both headliners onstage.

“It’s an interesting blend,” Krasno said. “We started making music together a few years ago and we found a really cool place that was somewhere between what he does and what I do.

“His voice is so classic. To me, he’s got this soul legend voice and I love his songwriting. I was a big fan of his before we ever met. Every show just gets better. It’s becoming something really unique with the melding of the two sounds and the band being the same crew. It’s been really fun to watch it form and jell.”

-Tim Parsons

  • Eric Krasno & Son Little, backed by the Assembly featuring James the eighth
  • When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26
  • Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
  • Tickets: $22 in advance or $25 on the day of the show

Notes: Krasno has produced albums for Aaron Neville, 50 Cent, Talib Kweli & Norah Jones and Marcus King. … Krasno’s tight group of high school friends attended Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where as freshmen they formed the band Lettuce. After graduating, many of the members became side players in bands, but would reunite to open shows for Soulive. “As it grew a lot of the guys wanted to quit their side gigs and do Lettuce (full time),” Krasno said. … Krasno’s older brother Jeff is the founder of the Wanderlust festivals. Memories of trips to their grandfather’s Truckee home is the reason the first Wanderlust was held at Squaw Valley. … Eric Krasno’s two Grammys were for his songwriting and bass contributions to the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Derek Trucks contributed on Krasno’s 2016 album, “Blood From A Stone.” Also on guitar for that album was Northern California native Danny Mayer, who performed in the Red Room after the Soulive show in 2012. Soon afterward, Mayer was recruited by Soulive’s drummer Alan Evans to move to the East to join his group. “When I made Blood from a Stone,” I needed that second guitar that could really understand the phrasing because there was a lot of guitar harmonies and Danny fit perfectly.” Mayer now lives in Philadelphia and has a band “Star Kitchen,” made up with players from electronic-rock band Disco Biscuits. … Soulive will reunite for some shows in July at the Brooklyn Bowl.

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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