It’s Carnival season and South Lake Tahoe’s funk outfit 4 Piece Puzzle is ready to kick-off the party at the Meyers Masquerade Ball at the Divided Sky on Monday, Feb. 16.
“I just love that whole New Orleans vibe. We just played there for Jazz Fest … and I just want to go back and play again. We’re really, really looking forward to bringing that vibe of New Orleans to Divided Sky,” Puzzle’s guitarist Ryan “Riff” Cassidy said.
Cassidy, along with Martin Bush (drums), Chad Laurence (bass) and Reggie Hall (saxophone) have been laying down dirty, Bourbon Street-inspired funk in the region since 4 Piece Puzzle’s inception in 2010.
About four or five cover songs from New Orleans, including Fats Domino and the Meters, will be played at the Divided Sky show.
Laurence described appearing in the storied Louisiana city.
“It was awesome, we got to play two really incredible sets within a 24-hour period of each other. One of them was a 6 a.m. breakfast jam at the Wolf’s Den, a smaller venue inside of the Howling Wolf.
“Then later that day, around 10 p.m., we played at the Dragons Den off Frenchmen Street, a well know local funk and jazz, dance party club. We were opening for our friends Gravity A, a local electro-funk band.”
Five years in, the band is as tight as ever and thrilled to continue seeing new faces at their shows. “Every show seems to get more of a following and we are getting some really good turnouts, with people dancing and getting crazy,” Cassidy said.
Old and new faces alike will be delighted to hear that 4 Piece Puzzle is finishing up the process of recording and producing its first record. The album was recorded locally at drummer Martin Bush’s house and at Fjeldheim, a chalet-style vacation rental on Kingsbury Grade Road. Cassidy said the record has “definitely got that “New Orleans-y” sound; funky, party stuff.” The guitarist even revealed plans to record the ambiance of one of their own house parties and have it play in the background on their song, “St. Charles,” which is named after an iconic street that hosts Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans. The band members are happy to finally be able to release an album after all their years playing together and Cassidy tentatively hoped the record would be available for fans in two months.
For now, the band is having fun honing their live show and letting its creative juices flow. Cassidy particularly mentioned his enthusiasm for “locking in” with a band member during a song and leading an improvisational jam based on the interplay between the two of them. He disdains noodling jams and indicated 4 Piece Puzzle is always trying to mold its musical explorations into a “nice, little package.” The guitarist also revealed the band’s sound is diversifying and believed “it is definitely kind of changing. The rock element is coming out”.
4 Piece Puzzle are eager to let the good times roll and throw it down Mardi Gras style with the crowd at Meyers Masquerade Ball on Monday night. “The Divided Sky show is just going to be outrageous,” Cassidy said, adding there will a handful of special guests from local bands and probably one or two surprises he doesn’t even know about. Tickets are $7 at the door, but if you come wearing a mask or costume admission is $5.
4 Piece Puzzle plans to continue igniting audiences around Lake Tahoe and, in addition to Monday’s show at The Divided Sky, will play shows at McP’s Taphouse Grill on March 6, the 7800 Bar and Grill at Kirkwood on March 14, and Lake Tahoe Golf Course on April 17 as part of the FNCTN Winter Music Series.
— Editor’s note: Josh Sweigert contributed to this story.