A half-hour after the show was scheduled to start Saturday, Buddy Emmer cried the blues.
“This was going to be the greatest night of the year,” he said as rain pummeled TJ’s Corral, the outdoor arena at the Carson Valley Inn. Putting things in perspective, he described a close, frightening lightning bolt followed immediately by stage-shaking thunder. That was close.
The Carson Valley Inn’s 33rd anniversary bash promoted $2 beers, dollar hot dogs and the Buddy Emmer Blues Band, which would perform solo and back San Jose guitar star Maxx Cabello Jr. and the Northern Nevada debut of Greene, a phenomenal player just off seven years with the Alan Parsons Project.
“Maxx has another gig on the other side of the mountains and he has to leave in 10 minutes,” Emmer said, trying to smile through his blues.
The rain turned into a drizzle with ominous clouds still threatening lightening but suddenly the band was given the OK to start the show. Cabello told the small crowd he didn’t have much time to play, so he wouldn’t spend it by talking. He proceeded to shred and, seemingly like magic, droves of people filled into the arena.
“We truly appreciate everyone’s cooperation and understanding as safety became the driving force until the lightening trended farther from TJ’s on the radar,” the CVI’s Bill Henderson said. “And what an incredible tribute to the artists and the event that the crowd came back in such numbers after the delay!”
Generously, Cabello offered his CDs for free before briskly unplugging and darting off stage.
A suddenly enthused Buddy Emmer Blues Band played a rocking set that included two Led Zeppelin covers and a passionate Janis Jopin song, “Piece of my Heart,” by vocalist Kim Emmer. Buddy Emmer played a song that was taught to him by Billy Gibbons, “Just Got Paid.”
By the time Greene stepped onstage, the sky was clear and a full moon beamed over the bucolic Carson Valley. There was enough room for kids to run around, but the size of the crowd was impressive considering most people figured the show would be canceled.
Earlier this year, Greene said he’d fulfilled his “inner teenage dream” by playing stadiums all across the globe with light shows and a historic British prog rock band. “(But now) it’s time for me to spread my wings and do my thing,” he said.
His clothes — jeans and a brand new flannel shirt — indicate his transformation from rock star to bluesman.
Onstage for the first time with Emmer, Greene unleashed a few of his originals, but offered up mostly modern blues standards. A dexterous guitarist, he played the upper and lower strings with his thumb and fingers and also manipulated a guitar pick.
Greene played Albert Collins and Freddie King licks, Rory Gallagher’s “Bullfrog Blues,” and finished with a slowed down, powerful rendition of Tinsley Ellis’ “Cut You Loose.”
It’s impressive how Emmer and his bandmates can meld with guest artists so well with no rehearsals. The band has a nearly four-year residency on Tuesday nights at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, which this month will feature nationally acclaimed Terry Hanck, Kid Andersen and, on Tuesday, Aug. 8, Greene.
Emmer said he’d like to someday present a monthly blues show in TJ’s Corral – a great idea. Blues is all about feeling, and the CVI’s 33rd anniversary show had practically every emotion imaginable.