Sneaky Creatures captured live Friday at Crystal Bay

Sneaky Creatures will play Friday, May 20, in the Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room. Hats for men are not required, yet fashionable.

Sneaky Creatures is a septet rarely seen in recent times.

The band will emerge from the coronavirus-forced hibernation on Friday with its first Crystal Bay Casino Red Room show since 2018.

Formed in 2011 by guitarist Josh Roelle, Sneaky Creatures is made up of talented players from around Lake Tahoe’s North Shore, out of bands such as Downbeat, Truckee Tribe, Mama’s Cookin,’ Horsemouth and Rusty Strings. Its debut album is titled “Dirt Circus.”

“I thought it was going to be totally berserk or off the wall and instead it molded into this style of everyone’s personalities in the band,” Roelle said.

The sound has been described in different ways, sometimes inaccurately. This band doesn’t fiddle around, says the member whose instrument has led to a misconception. “I think some people see the upright bass and they automatically assume bluegrass,” Kerry Andras said. “This is more of a jazz band.

“We write interesting and cools songs and play some cool covers, as well. We are a bunch of busy people, but this is a very creative and fun outlet for all of us.”

Saxophonist Kevin Drake’s succinct description is electric swing. “It goes from Dixieland, to rock and honky-tonk, to a little bit of reggae. We’re jazz at the core and swing in all its forms.”

Keyboardist Todd Holway noted, “Sometimes we play some Scott Joplin type riffs, ragtime old-time jazzy tunes. We’re eclectic.”

“It’s been a really cool journey for me as a musician, and as a teacher it helps me with my kids,” said Lena Meyer, the band director at North Tahoe Middle School. She was trained in classical music on French horn and piano. Meyer joined Sneaky Creatures as a trumpeter before moving to trombone when Jesse Steele came along.

“When I’m teaching jazz band now, I am a little more comfortable,” she said. “I know about eye contact with people you’re playing with and memorizing lines. It’s a whole genre of music that I hadn’t felt comfortable instructing.”

Assembling upon a small stage the seven-member ensemble with its drums, three horns and numerous microphones is an entirely different subject.

“On a stage like that it’s hard to have eye contact because we’re really locked into our positions,” Meyer said. “The Red Room stage is an exercise in geometry.”

-Tim Parsons

  • Sneaky Creatures
  • When: 10 p.m. Friday, May 20
  • Where: Crystal Bay Casino Red Room
  • Cover: free

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Picture of 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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