Storms brought thunder, lightning and rain to Live at Lakeview Thursday night at El Dorado Beach in South Lake Tahoe, but Seattle brass band Tubaluba was not to be outdone by Mother Nature. Leading a crowd of party people in a second line jazz parade from Sprouts Cafe to the Lakeview stage amidst cheers from oncoming traffic, the Bourbon Street-inspired band made the fans forget the inclement weather and focus on the hip-shaking music that echoed across the shoreline.
Live at Lakeview is special because every concert brings a different sound and after a night of jazz and blues for Live at Lakeview’s inaugural summer kickoff last week, Tubaluba injected a syringe of heavy, New Orleans-drenched funk that was felt just as much as it was heard. After igniting the crowd with their vivacious entrance, Josh Wilson (piano), Kohen Burrill (drums), Jonathan Hill (tuba), Samantha Willis (vocals), Jason Cressey (trombone) and Joseph Sheedy (saxophone) took the stage and catapulted into one of the band’s original tunes, “Big Strut.” A robust, funky number, the band held a stirring groove that was peppered with calls from the band for the crowd to join in. The eager attendees, from the beach to the beer garden, were happy to oblige.
Over the course of two sets, Tubaluba held down the stage at El Dorado Beach as if it nestled deep within the French Quarter instead of the Sierra. As the night went on and Tubaluba gained momentum, people couldn’t resist the call to dancing arms. Tubaluba did its due diligence and garnered a live show that was a rpie mix of New Orleans’ old guard-dixieland jazz and current Mardi Gras-funk.
The band took the old, country-fried “Jambalaya (on the Bayou)” by Hank Williams, recorded in 1952 and filled with steel guitar and fiddle, into a lively, celebration of good times and hard drinking that would have made Williams blush. Paying homage to the legendary Dirty Dozen Brass Band, of which the band has obvious similarities too, Tubaluba covered the group’s anthem “Ain’t Nothin’ But a Party” with passionate zeal.
The band brought some of their original tunes to the table as well, with songs that ranged from sultry, cabaret jazz to knock-down, dance party. The band is currently supporting its recent release “Champagne Sunday” and standout track “Get Yer Back Up Front” rocked the crowd with its call-and-response rhythm. A steady strut by the brass section held the song in place as the rest of the band chanted the chorus, eliciting gyrating hips and bottomed-out derrières at the front of the stage.
For a night overcast with brooding clouds, Tubaluba was the perfect antidote with its passionate dance music, bringing as much electricity to Lake Tahoe as the stormy weather traveling over the basin.
Two concerts in, Live at Lakeview continues to grow in strength. Next Thursday the series switches gears again and brings the sweet sounds of Americana act MerryGold and ska band World’s Finest.