It’s a conundrum as old as bebop. How to describe music without putting it in a box, because no artist wants that.
Fletcher Nielsen, pianist and leader of the band Tracorum, is an exception. He says, “I’m happy to be in a box but I can never figure out what that box is.”
The group from San Francisco makes its first Lake Tahoe area appearance in more than two years on Friday, Jan. 8, for Music on the Beach at Kings Beach State Recreation Area. The next night, Tracorum plays at Cypress Reno, along with Ten Foot Tiger, fronted by Tahoe native Dan Green.
“We’re picking our spots and ramping up toward the fall, looking to be back full time pushing around the country by next year,” Nielsen said.
A recent lineup change has Daria Johnson at drums and vocals, replacing Jeremy Hoenig, who joined Melvin Seals and JGB.
“She is quite established on the drum kit and brings a lot of flavor and soul to the project,” Nielsen said.
Johnson’s rhythm-section partner is bass player Mark Calderon.
Ben Andrews plays lead guitar and fiddle. He also shares a stage with Hot Buttered Rum, Poor Man’s Whiskey and The Stone Foxes.
“He brings a unique ear to the guitar position, which is fun,” Nielsen said.
Tracorum has been described as “cosmic gospel thunder funk rock.”
Seems a box would only have room for one of those.
“We are definitely a rock-and-roll band, but some people say, ‘Does that mean they have long hair and metal guitars?’ No. We’re more like The Wrecking Crew or The Band, that type of band.”
Let’s check those boxes:
- The Wrecking Crew was Phil Spector’s house band, a studio session collection of musicians which included Glen Campbell and Leon Russell and recorded numerous Top 40 songs. Call it 1960s-70s, pop rock.
- The Band is most famous for backing Bob Dylan and for starring in Martin Scorsese’s live concert documentary “The Last Waltz.” Call it classic Americana rock.
So, along with its originals, Tracorum celebrates great vintage rock songs, sometimes with a twang. Would that be the box, Fletcher?
“We have a southern Florida influence which is a lot of blues, New Orleans and honky-tonk Americana Caribbean. We mix all those flavors that are naturally coming across the gulf. A little bit of everything.”
Hey now, that’s a really, large box.
“It’s feel-good music.”
OK, nice! Conundrum solved.
Go see Tracorum for feel-good music.
- 6 p.m. Friday, July 8; Music on the Beach, Kings Beach State Recreation Area
- 9 p.m. Saturday, July 9; Cypress Reno with opener Ten Foot Tiger, $10