Yes, Virginia, you can go home again.
The Congress, a four-piece rock and soul band that visits Lake Tahoe at least once a year, is now based in Richmond, Virginia, the hometown for three of the four members.
The band formed in Denver after guitarist Scott Lane and bassist Jonathan Meadows moved there in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Chris Speasmaker is the keyboardist.
“Everybody’s families are out here (in Virginia), and, businesswise, we were driving 20 hours to get to gigs. (Now) we can drive six hours and hit five major cities along the way. Richmond is ridiculously vibrant in the arts. The talent per capita here is astonishingly high and the stuff that’s happening here is great.”
Drummer Mark Levy elected to remain in Colorado. The new Congress drummer is Raphael Katchinoff, who was the house drummer at the open mic at Emilio’s that Lane and Meadows started in 2007. He formerly played with the Southern Belles and continues to play with the Milkstains, a punk rock band.
“He’s an old friend. He’s been a part of the local indie punk rock scene for a decade,” Lane said. “He brings a different spirit to the band. He’s got everything from quiet R&B chops to really aggressive punk rock drumming. The tone of the band has changed in both directions dynamically. We get quieter than we used to and we also get louder than we used to. When Mark went back to Denver, it was the obvious decision.”
The Congress releases its second all-original, full-length album on Sept. 9. It also has two EPs, including “The Loft Tapes,” a superb collection of R&B covers. The band has been working on “The Game” since 2014, and concertgoers will recognize about half of the tunes. Each member sings, and the soprano voice from Meadows is soulful and sensational. The style is hard to define, but there is an obvious Grateful Dead influence.
“Everybody brings something different to the table,” Lane said. “Jonathan is the most obvious, huge Deadhead — that’s his thing. All four of us are. I feel he brings that spirit. I’m really into The Band and I feel I can’t hide from that. That comes through on my stuff. And everybody’s into R&B. It all comes through.”
The Congress plays at 9 p.m. Friday, Aug, 26, in Moe’s Original BBQ in Tahoe City. North Shore’s Coburn Station will open. Tickets are $10 and the doors open at 8. For advance tickets, click the LINK.