Listeners of Crash Kings’ first two albums might be dumfounded the first time they see the band live and discover there is no guitar player.
The Los Angeles-based Crash Kings, which will appear at the Cargo in the Whitney Peak Hotel in Reno on Jan. 31, are a trio with drummer Tom Roslak, bassist Mike Beliveau and keyboardist Tony Beliveau. The band also played at the Cargo in June and October 2014.
Fans, Tony Biliveau, says, are “slightly mystified by the fact that there is guitar sound coming from a keyboard. A lot of people have trouble piecing it together.”
Beliveau plays a Hohner Clavinet, which has 60 guitar strings attached to a whammy bar used to simultaneously increase the tension of all of the strings without raising the pitch.
“It’s pretty dorky but it gets me that rock and roll sound,” said Beliveau, who says his late-1970’s model is one of just six know to exist. It was the creation of Buddy Castle, and the whammy, also called a tremolo, was nicknamed the “Castle bar.”
The traditional Hohner Clavinet has 60 strings controlled by the keyboard.
“The clavinet came out trying to emulate sound of a harpsichord but became much more electric,” Beliveau said. “It was used by Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition.’ It’s most traditionally used in funk and reggae, not as much rock and roll but every once in a while you hear it but not necessarily know what it was. The way I am using mine is just a different way to manipulate that instrument.”
R&B artist George Duke played a Hohner Clavinet with the Castle bar.
Beliveau said he has to tune each of the 60 strings before every show, but after seven years he has streamlined what must be an arduous process. He uses the wooden, 70-pound instrument, which gets its own airplane seat, for all of the Crash King shows.
“It allows me to have a big sound onstage without having so many people,” he said.
Boston natives, the Beliveau brothers learned piano at an early age. When a neighbor decided to unload his gear, Mike Beliveau purchased and electric bass and a vintage amplifier for $60. The brothers have played with various drummers until Roslak joined the Crash Kings before a summer 2012 tour with the Stone Temple Pilots.
The brothers studied at Berklee College of Music, before starting the Crash Kings. Its self-titled debut album was a inspired by Beatles music, and the follow-up, “Dark of Daylight,” has a Led Zeppelin feel.
The Crash Kings are hard rocking band with a unique sound.
“We’re having fun doing what we do,” Tony Beliveau said. “It’s fun doing something different.”
The Crash Kings are close to releasing an EP with five new songs, “Lives Nudes,” which also will include new versions of the songs “Saving Grace” and “So Many Ways.”
Crash Kings and My Goodness
When: 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31
Where: Cargo in the Whitney Peak Hotel Reno
Tickets: $10 in advance, $15 on the day of the show
More upcoming shows at the Cargo
Prices are for tickets bought in advance
Saturday, Jan. 17, $10 — Moondog Matinee album release party with Rigorous Proff and Bryan Jones
Sunday, Jan. 18, $20– The Wood Brothers with Mandolin Orange, ages 18 and older
Tuesday, Jan. 20, $10 — Fundraiser for Randy “Skippy” Sloan and the 20th anniversary of the Midnight Riders Saturday, Jan. 24, $15 — The Purple Party with Dimond Saints and Bleep Bloop, 18 and older
Friday., Jan. 30, $12 — Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real, 18 and older
Wednesday, Feb. 11, $17 — Big Smo with Haden Carpenter
Friday, Feb. 13, $17 — St. Paul & the Broken Bones with Sean Rowe, 18 and older
Saturday, Feb. 14, $15 — Fresh Faces of Country Music featuring Granger Smith with Earl Dibbles Jr., 18 and older
Sunday., March 8, $27.50 — Umphrey’s McGeee with the Revivalists, 18 and older
Thursday., April 2, $27.50 — Yonder Mountain String Band, 18 and older