The California Honeydrops picked a sweet place for their first concert in more than a year: Crystal Bay Casino.
The Bay Area-based band delivered iconic blues, jazz and R&B for a weekend of sold-out shows April 17-18.
Casino Manager Bill Wood addressed the crowd limited to 150 before the music began. The CBC staff created a welcoming vibe while demonstrating how safe protocols can be followed to resume live music. The seated show with masks required provided the way for patrons to enjoy themselves for an evening out with a few friends and loved ones in a safe environment.
The opening night early show was filled with fans both young and old. Dancing at your seat to the upbeat unique sounds was noticeable throughout the room.
The energy and camaraderie from the band was infectious and was carried through to the cheering crowd. The live vocals and instrumentals were soothing to the ears and a refreshing vibrant energy boost. The California Honeydrops perform with the same spirit as they did in its early days busking in a BART station. There was no set list and the audience was eager to shout requests and become an integral part of the show.
Lech Wierzynski brought his superb vocal stylings, from Ray Charles and Louis Armstrong, along with trumpet and guitar. He was joined by Ben Malament on drums, washboard and percussion, Johnny Bones on tenor sax and clarinet, Lorenzo Loera mixing it up on keys, Beau Bradbury on bass and percussion and Gary Kehoe on percussion.
Songs played included: “Grandma Song” from 2015’s “A Higher Degree” album, “In My Baby’s Arms” from “Call It Home: Vol 1 & 2”, 2018; and a bit of storytelling with “Pocket Chicken” from the “Just One More And Then Some” EP, 2020.
CBC’s staff has adjusted to the new paradigm of presenting two shows a night. The room can be cleared and cleaned quickly, Production and Marketing Manager Sam Shear said. He noted added the early shows have been more mellow and the late shows more rocking.
“Everyone’s been so cooped up, both the fans and the musicians, it’s nice to see everyone’s smiling faces,” he said.
While Nevada anticipates opening all venues to open at 100 percent capacity by June 1, there is no word yet as to when the Crown Room will resume general admission shows. The venue holds about 700 concertgoers.
Up next: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe plays three nights, April 23-25, and tickets are available for both the early and late shows on Sunday. Two new shows were announced on Monday, April 19: “Funnyball Comedy Night” on Friday May 7 and Tim Snider & Wolfgang Timber on Saturday, May 22. Tickets for both go on sale Wednesday.
-Judi Sabo, special to Tahoe Onstage