There’s nothing quite like the life of a musician.
We spoke with Jason Eckle on his cellphone just before his band embarked to perform for a group of Icelandic whale watchers.
“We’re looking at snow-covered mountains and this sharp, valleyed fjord and a boat that is just a bit smaller than we expected,” he said.
Eckle plays guitar for Dirty Cello, which is one of the most popular bands in recent years to appear at the Valhalla Tahoe Summer Concert Series. He also conducts the Renegade Orchestra, a extraordinarily large side project. Approximately 20 members of Renegade Orchestra will perform in the Valhalla Boathouse Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10. The show has sold out.
Formed about a year ago, Renegade Orchestra has played more than a dozen shows. The members are players in various Bay Area symphonies, including Dirty Cello’s bandleader (and Eckle’s wife) Rebecca Roudman.
“We turn them loose and they are all so enthusiastic to do something like this,” Eckle said.
The idea for the large orchestra began a few years ago when the 15-member Dirty Orchestra played some shows in Hawaii and then toured California.
Unconventional for an orchestra, all but two of the members stand during a performance. And they play rock music, including songs by Jimi Hendrix, Metalica and Ozzy Osbourne. An original song, “The End is Nigh,” allows solos from nearly everyone in the ensemble.
“You can see all of the musicians moving and grooving,” Eckle said. “It ends up being a very amplified, powerful sound.”
Renegade Symphony’s can-do spirit has led it to a lot of strange places.
This band has played in so many weird spots we are kind of getting used to it,” he said. “We played at a winery and they were supposed to build a bigger stage for us but they forgot. We played at a single residence occupancy hotel in the Tenderloin. It’s a hardy orchestra.”
What led to the third tour of Iceland was a wedding show for that country’s famed actress Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir, who requested Dirty Cello to play country bluegrass music. The sun doesn’t set this time of year 20 miles from the Arctic Circle and the party didn’t start to wind down until 3 a.m.
Valhalla Tahoe at the Tallac Historic Site also is a popular place for weddings and appearances by Eckle and Roudman’s bands. Dirty Cello has played Valhalla four times, including an online performance with no in-house audience during the Covid lockdown and at last year’s Valhalla Boathouse Theatre 25th Anniversary Gala.
Eckle said the Boathouse is his favorite venue. “It’s not only visually beautiful but the sound in there is great,” he said.
Let’s just hope the stage hold up.
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10
Where: Valhalla Boathouse Theatre, South Lake Tahoe
Tickets: Sold out