About a year ago, a Tahoe Onstage reporter asked Greg Loiacono where will be the first place he goes when the pandemic lockdown ends.
“Disneyland?” he said. “Just kidding. Um, wherever the first gig is.”
That first gig, as well as the second, will be the Crystal Bay Casino on Friday and Saturday when The Mother Hips take the Crown Room stage. Both shows sold out in advance.
“We’re ready to rock,” said Loiacono, who along with Tim Bluhm started the California soul rockin’ band 30 years ago when they were Chico State students
The first shows booked by Crystal Bay in this new era are with bands familiar to Tahoe music lovers. The Mother Hips, which settled in the Bay Area, can consider Lake Tahoe a second home. It’s played several times at the venue and shared a New Year’s Eve run with Jackie Greene.
The CBC’s original soundman, Blake Beeman, was instrumental in the Mother Hips tight relationship with North Shore. Beeman, who died in 2014, was working the sound at a restaurant in Tahoe City when he first saw the band.
“He told us, ‘You guys are messed up. You are the weirdest band I’ve seen in a long time. I love it.’ He was delighted by what we were doing. And we didn’t even know what we were doing yet. We’d probably only been a band for about six months.”
Back at college, Loiacono was the accomplished guitarist and Bluhm was a singer and harmonica player.
“Then he bought that red Gibson 330,” Loiacono said. “I remember walking into his room one day and he had a wah-wah pedal. I said, ‘What happened?’ All of a sudden, he was good. I don’t know if he just sat in his room for three days and played but all of a sudden he sounded like Neil Young. He was ready to play lead.”
The Mother Hips became a widely popular band and released numerous albums, which, starting last January and in honor of the 30-year anniversary, are being reissued every month on the Blue Rose label on vinyl. At the end of 2021, a new album will be released.
The album was recorded at 25th Street Recording in Oakland, and overdubbed and mixed this month at Bluhm’s home studio. Crystal Bay concertgoers might be the first to hear some of the new songs.
“We usually put a set list together on the spot,” Loiacono said. “Maybe we’ll play one or two of the new songs, but we’re going to be excited to play the old stuff.
During the hiatus, Bluhm streamed an estimated 100 shows online. Loiacono did 15 to 20, and he stayed busy in the studio. His solo album “Mystic Traces” was released in May 2020. He’s also released some singles, including a duet with Jamie Drake last month. On May 14, he will release a song titled “What Can I Say,” followed by an instrumental in June.
The Crystal Bay concert will be the first indoor performance by The Mother Hips in 15 months. This is the third time the shows have been scheduled. However, the band performed on Halloween at a drive-in theater in Petaluma. And recently, Loiacono and Bluhm have had several private acoustic duo shows in backyards and driveways.
“We had to become flexible and creative to find a way to stay afloat, not only as a band but as humans,” Loiacono said.
Related story: Instant classic — Grag Loiacono’s “Mystic Traces.”