Jazz on the Green: First Take featuring Rick Metz at SoL Cannabis

First Take featuring Rick “Saxman” Metz plays Saturday, July 31, at Sol Cannabis in the Washoe Valley on Old Highway 395.

Jazz is easy to approach when you get your mind right. And there’s no better place for that than SoL Cannabis, which has a free Saturday afternoon outdoor concert series. This week’s concert is First Take featuring Rick Metz.

“We do vocal jazz from the ‘Great American Songbook,’ from Frank Sinatra to Michael Buble and everything in between and beyond,” said Metz, who plays tenor saxophone.

“The general public is familiar with this music, they are just not aware that they are familiar with this music,” Metz said. “They hear it on TV shows. They hear it on commercials. They hear this music in movies. They hear it all over the place.”

The public hereabouts also is familiar with Metz’ voice. He’s one of the radio personalities, going by “The Saxman” on 105.7 KOZZ Reno’s Classic Rock, where he’s also the production director, as well as the afternoon traffic and weather reporter.

Metz started his Northern Nevada version of First Take in 1999 when he left the casino lounge circuit. The other longtime members are: Bill Heise on drums and Jimmy Vermilion on keys, keys bass and vocals.

“The three of us have this beautiful simpatico where we are almost reading each other’s minds; a little light reading never hurt anybody,” Metz said. “We finish phrases we know where we’re going to take it in the context of a song. We follow and accent each other beautifully.”

The late Bobby Keys of the Rolling Stones was a mentor for Metz. “He taught me rock ‘n’ roll and how to get that nasty saxophone sound,” he said.

Metz also is a hired gun who joins the horn sections of touring bands such as the Temptations, Four Tops and Little Anthony and the Imperials, all three Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees.

Metz was just 7 years old when he began to play alto saxophone. He became primarily a tenor player after joining a doo-wop group in the 1980s when he lived in Bellingham, Washington. Tenor is the classic rock ‘n’ roll horn, and Metz was used for session work with Sha Na Na. He’s also recorded with the Sacramento blues band Mick Martin and the Blues Rockers.

The legendary sax player, Sam Butera, who was the backbone of jump blues pioneer Louis Prima’s band, mentored Metz in swing methods.

For all of his career highlights, perhaps Metz’ greatest thrill occurred offstage when Butera invited him for drinks at the Sands Lounge in Las Vegas with the Rat Pack’s Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin.

-Tim Parsons

  • First Take featuring Rick Metz
    When:
    4:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 31
    Where: SoL Cannabis, 275 US-395 ALT, New Washoe City, NV 89704
    Venue website: solisbetter.com
    Phone: (775) 451-7290
    Artist’s website: www.RickMetz.com
Modern Days on the Green: SoL Cannabis has free shows on Saturdays.

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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