Planets aligned, Pepper rides high to Lake Tahoe

Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Pepper will spice the MontBleu Showroom on Sunday, Aug. 8.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

A band known for its enthusiasm and joy, Pepper is especially peppy now that its returned to the stage.

The Hawaiian reggae trio’s first show after the concert lockdown was unprecedented. Its second will be Saturday in San Diego, followed by a Sunday night show at Lake Tahoe, where the band’s “ohana” is strong.

“It was amazing to come out of this long, weird year and a half of not playing music into one of our most glorious moments as a band,” drummer Yesod Williams told Tahoe Onstage. “We played at Pacific Amphitheater at the Orange County Fair. The planets aligned. It was one of the biggest headlining shows or our career. It was a huge milestone.

“We were back with our ohana, our family. That was a huge example of how magical this beautiful thing that we call music is. We’re going to be floating though this whole week, riding that high right to MontBleu.”

The band that burst onto the national scene in 2001 on the Vans Warped Tour, which stopped at Boreal Ski Resort at the north side of Lake Tahoe, remains intact. Kaleo Wassman is the guitarist and singer, Bret Bollinger plays bass and sings.

“I am so happy (live music) is back and so excited that our third show back is going to be at Tahoe,” Williams said.

J Boog will open the show, along with Vana Liya, the first female artist on Pepper’s LAW Records label.

Williams compared Liya to Stick Figure and Iration in the way she sets a musical landscape.

“She’s unlocking levels of her own talent,” he said. “She has an island style with also a silky, bluesy voice.”

Liya recently released a single, “Round n Round,” which includes vocals by Wassman. It will be included on her debut album produced by Johnny Cosmic of Stick Figure due out later this year.

During the live-music shutdown, the members of Pepper collaborated with The Nowell Family Foundation to make an acoustic album of songs written by Sublime’s Bradley Nowell, “The House That Bradley Built.” Proceeds from the album, released Sept. 4, 2020, go toward an eight-bed rehab center in Orange Country for musicians struggling with addition.

Every artist asked was eager to contribute Sublime covers, including the Common Kings, G. Love & Special Sauce and the Descendents.

“It was one of the biggest outpourings of love I’ve ever experienced,” Williams said. “I don’t know if our band would even be a band if it wasn’t for Sublime.”

New Pepper songs are expected to be released in 2022, Williams said.

In the meanwhile, there’s the show in Tahoe.

“The energy is at an all-time high with the Pepper ohana and we’re just riding it,” he said.

Tim Parsons

  • Pepper
    With: J Boog and Vana Liya
    When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8
    Where: MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa Lake Tahoe
    Tickets: $39.50
    Must be: 21 or older
    Box office: (775) 588-3515
    Online: Ticketmaster.com
Vana Liya will open the Tahoe show.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
When he’s not surfing or cheering on the Chicago Bears, Yesod Williams plays drums for Pepper.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Pepper played the Lake Tahoe Reggae Festival multiple times.

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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