Living large and lavishly: Lavish Green on TouchTunes and in Tahoe onstage with Fishbone

Lavish Green
Fishbone would endorse this photo of Lavish Green’s Chris Sanchez and Joel Gruneich.

Don’t give up. These are words to live by for a band.

Lavish Green never gave up and 20 years later it is reaping a couple of major benefits as Lake Tahoe’s most enduring rock and roll band:

  • TouchTunes has added the Lavish Green library to its digital jukebox collection, which is offered to a worldwide audience.
  • On July 3, the 20-year anniversary of its first performance, Lavish Green will play its highest paying Lake Tahoe gig, opening for Fishbone at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

“We always thought we were going to be together,” said Chris Sanchez, the lead singer and trumpet player. “We are too deep to be untwined from each other. … Twenty years is a big mark and it means everything to me.”

Sanchez, guitarist Joel Gruneich and bassist Rob Wheeler have been together since Lavish Green played a house party on Alameda Avenue in 1995. Sanchez originally played drums, the one position that has had a revolving door. Drummer Danny Barnes fulfilled a lifelong goal when he joined the band earlier this year.

Tahoe Onstage
Fishbone’s Angelo Moore, aka Dr. Madd Vibe, during the 2014 Lake Tahoe Reggae Festival.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstag

“I knew about Lavish Green when I was 8 years old and I first saw them play when I was 12 and in middle school,” Barnes said. “That’s the first band that really caught my ear and that’s when I really got into playing music.”

While Lavish Green has been a hometown hero for two decades, in the last three months it has gained international notoriety. TouchTunes is heard in more than 71,000 bars and restaurants in North America and Europe.

“It’s old technology meeting new technology,” Sanchez said during an early shift at his day job, bartender at the Turn 3 Peanut Bar. “Among all our rad accomplishments, this is our biggest. You can play us in Paris.”

Lavish Green, Forrest Day and, coincidentally, Fishbone are the only bands not signed to a label who are included in the TouchTune catalog, Sanchez said. Thirty five songs from four of Lavish Green’s records are on TouchTunes: the self-titled “Lavish Green,” “Techush Ne la Wah,” “Don’t Worry” and “Live, Love, Lavish.” Sanchez credits music promoter Casey Scherer for alerting TouchTone to his band.

Lavish Green’s diverse sound, which Barnes describes as Sublime meets the Red Hot Chili Peppers, may have hindered its ability to sign with a label.

“No one wants to sign us because we’re all over the place,” Sanchez said. “We never conform to one style of writing. They don’t know where to put us. We could play with Sublime and we could play with Ozzy. We always write whatever the hell we want to write.”

Max Volume, the KOZZ radio personality whose band opens for Aerosmith Friday, agrees.

“A lot of times record labels want something they can put in a box and put a label on it on a shelf at Target,” Max Volume said. “Lavish is so diverse and so talented that a good manager would want them to pick a team but I don’t think that that’s in Lavish’s bloodline. Have you ever heard the band play ‘Immigrant Song’ ska style with a trumpet? I mean, you haven’t lived until you’ve been to a Lavish Green show. Sanch and Robbie and Joel are going to do what they want to do. And God bless them for that.”

The same could be said about Fishbone, a fun-loving and outspoken funk, punk, metal and ska band that came to prominence in the late 1980s and early ’90s as an all-black, avant-garde alternative to the angrier Public Enemy.

“We are like a baby Fishbone,” said Sanchez, whose band has played with Fishbone seven times. “It’s an honor to play with Fishbone. They could have made double at a gig in Chicago but they took less just to be here with us on our 20th.”

Saxophonist Seth Hall, a former regular member of Lavish Green, will join the band for the Hard Rock show in the 500-capacity Vinyl.

Doors open at 9 p.m., VTA plays at 9:30 and Lavish Green will perform from 10:15-11:30 p.m. Fishbone follows.

Aerosmith concertgoers at Harveys will be able to catch part of the Lavish Green show. Outdoor concerts in Stateline must end by 10:30 p.m.

Go to the Lavish Green Facebook page to learn about winning free tickets.

Editor’s note: Randy Hashagen contributed to this story.

Danny Barnes
Danny Barnes, who has wanted to play with Lavish Green since he was 12, has got it made in the shade.
Tim Parsons/ Tahoe Onstage
Tahoe Onstage
Dr. Madd Vibe is in Tahoe onstage.
Tim Parsons/ Tahoe Onstage
Angelene Hall / Hall Creations Photography
Angelene Hall / Hall Creations Photography

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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