Have you seen the forecast? The hippies are coming!
Swamp Zen, an eclectic monsoon of a jam band, will inundate Kirkwood’s 7800 Bar & Grill on Saturday, Jan. 14. The group from Chico also had planned a show the following day at another, less hardy Tahoe-area resort, which, fearing inclement weather, backed out.
So it will be a one-off performance for the 9-piece Swamp Zen in the high-altitude playground loved by “experts only,” which are those folks highly skilled at skiing, snowboarding, 4-wheel driving and skip-and-twirling dancing.
“Swamp is the Americana, New Orleans swampy feel and the Zen side is anything that supports dancers,” said singer-songwriter and rhythm guitarist Doug Stein. “It can be funk music, Latin music, truck driving music. We don’t really play things that aren’t dance orientated.
“We play 80 percent originals, but you’ve got to play (Grateful) Dead songs these days, and we’re all giant Deadheads.”
Stein grew up in Livermore and he saw the Dead 20 to 25 times in the Bay Area and was in the parking lot for 100 more shows. He moved to Chico in the 1990s, where he plays with Swamp Zen and in a bluegrass band, Low Flying Birds.
“We started (Swamp Zen) about seven years ago and it’s been evolving,” he said. “It’s had different members. The horn section came in about two or three years ago. So it’s almost been sort of like different phases.”
Stein, percussionist Steve Hoffman and drummer Noel Carvalho are the original players.
Swamp Zen is well known to Tahoe-area music lovers. It’s played at the Crystal Bay Casino, Squaw Valley’s Auld Dubliner, South Shore’s Live at Lakeview, Placerville’s Hangtown Music Festival and three times at 7800.
“We’ve always had fun up there, that’s a great club,” he said. “I think the weather was kind of funky the last couple years.”
No matter the weather, the music will indeed be funky.
On the following night, Sunday, a collection of well-known musicians will perform at 7800 as the MLK Day Celebration All Star Band. It will include Eric McFadden, Angelo Moore, Queen delphine and Thomas Pridgen.
- Swamp Zen
When: 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14
Where: 7800 Bar & Grill, Kirkwood