The Best of 2018
In 2018 I uploaded 159 new recordings to archive.org, 6 to dimeadozen.com, 9 to The Blake Tapes (archive.org) and 27 aborted. That’s a total of 201 recording projects. I had 201 projects in 2017, 209 in 2016, keeping on a pretty good pace. My most popular recording of 2018 was The Kitchen Dwellers, Winter Wondergrass “Grass After Dark”, Hacienda del Lago, Tahoe City CA, 07-APRIL-2018, FOH John Riley, with 1790 downloads.
This is a compilation of some of my favorite recordings of 2018. There are many reasons why I chose these songs, 35 special moments to me, whether what was going on on stage, what I was hearing, who I was with or where the songs took me in my head. I have included liner notes for each one of them.
Special thanks goes out to the venues that support live music, especially in North Lake Tahoe. The Crystal Bay Club: Bill Wood & Sam Shear. Moe’s Original Bar B Que: Eric Pilcher & Josh Wallick. Hacienda Del Lago: Rhonda Gramanz. Guitarfish Music Festival, Concerts on Commons & River Ranch Summer Concert Series: Brent Dana. Lost Sierra Hoedown: Azariah Z. Reynolds.
None of these recordings would be possible without the expertise and cooperation of the sound engineers that allow me to plug into their boards and copy their work. Huge thank you’s go out to: Charles Mallett, Peter Kowalczyk, John Riley, Jerry Laurita, Armando Travares, John Dean, Sean O’Brien, Kyle Porter, Phillip Johnson, Todd Rold, Mark Materne, Larry Maldonado, Ryan Kronenberg, Geoff Smith, Chad Roberts, TJ & Crux.
1) Orgōne makes it, they don’t fake it. Smooth. Funky. Be good to your brothers, be good to your sisters. It’s the give and the take. Pretty simple message here and Orgōne delivers it with a killer horn section thrown in. They’ll be back March 16th, 2019 at the CBC.
2) Funkify Your Life. In my opinion, The Motet have gone through some changes over the past year or two, but they still bring the funk. Regardless, they bring a party. They bring people dressed in outrageous outfits. Always a good time. And a good time will be happening March 1st & 2nd, 2019 in The Crown Room.
3) Smoking’ at the CBC. Stick Figure is todays roots, rock, reggae and they bring a sell out, smokin’ crowd. A positive band with the right mix of f bombs thrown in, RasBobre’s kind of music. Smokin’.
4) Dancing in the desert like a joshua tree? I’d love to know where this song came from. Perhaps a night around the campfire in a desert. Regardless, 1G2G gets a crowd going with this one. I’m really looking forward (and you should too) to seeing these guys make their debut at WinterWonderGrass Festival Squaw Valley MARCH 29th-31st, 2019.
5) G. Love laying down the Cold Beverage hip hop at 46 years old. The exact thing a 46 year old man should be hopping about. Drink up and throw up a peace sign for G.
6) Old Salt Union at Haceinda del Lago’s WinterWonderGrass “Grass After Dark”. As FOH Engineer, John Riley shouts at the end of the opening scat, “That was fucking awesome!” Old Salt Union is fucking awesome. Look for big things from this band, they’re definitely on the radar.
7) In my opinion the Kyle Hollingsworth Band is so much better than with String Cheese Incident. I’m sure some people would argue with me about that, send me a DM because “That’s the Way That it Goes”. Everyone knows.
8) Made in Tahoe, Bayberry Cast plays the jazz. I’m not sure which I enjoy more in this song, Darcy’s vocal range or the smooth band. Speaking of Happiness, the soloing in this song is masterful. Look for Darcy and husband Lucas hosting open mic nights at Rosie’s Cafe, Tahoe City on most Tuesday nights.
9) I suspect that Trevor Hall’s love is his audience, because he certainly brings a sold out crowd to his shows. Rootsy, folk. reggae a perfect blend mixed on the final night of the Gamble DCX40 in the Crown Room. It was an epic run Jim Gamble, I miss that dinosaur and the man.
10) A new song from Peter Joseph Burtt and the King Tide at Guitarfish Festival! Blue & Green, reggae style, with Ibou N’gom on percussion from SambaDá and some cat named Jeff on the trumpet. PJB&TKT has played every Guitarfish and for good reason, they bring it every time. The new album is mastered and will be released soon.
11) There was a lot of talk about how Diggin’ Dirt blew the roof off a tent at High Sierra Music Festival this year and I was bummed that I didn’t get a chance to get there and see them. Good job Brent Dana, Big Tree Productions on the booking at the perfect location on the Truckee River and River Ranch Lodge. Soul music with lots of love in the audience. Leather Tramp, refined, yet hungry, with a soulful sax solo that takes you right there with the down and out.
12) Whether Ron Artis II plays a searing blues guitar or as in this one, picks up the acoustic to sing a song of truth and desires. Be a Little Light in The World, try it. For my friends in New Orleans, look for Ron Artis II and The Truth at Tipitina’s opening for G. Love & Special Sauce 14-FEB-2019.
13) Moe’s Original Bar B Que is back with cajun natural funk and focused groovesman Eric Lindell for their Grand Re-Opening Party at the new location in the Roundhouse Mall, Tahoe City Marina. Bayou Country in the mountains from a man that delivers a great show whether solo or with Dragon Smoke. From a restaurant that “gets live music”. Look for Eric to be back at Moe’s some time soon, it’s an unstoppable relationship.
14) Steve Poltz paints a picture with every song he sings. This one is a dark story about a hermit with a sewing machine written on a challenge. With the stage loaded with approximately 20 young kids at the Guitarfish Festival, Cisco Grove, I seriously wonder what was going through their heads on this one.
15) Big Sam brings big funk to The Crown Room. Love On My Side, shouldn’t we all? Big Sam throws in a Black & Gold, Who Dat?! Who Dat?! line in this song in reference to his hometown New Orlean Saints. Nice one!
16) Local Truckee artists Serina Dawn and Mark Sexton break down a blues break up song with soul and blistering guitar solos at Concerts at Commons, Tahoe City. A little Joplin/Potter like, Serina has the raspy voice of a blues rocker, a unique style that I look forward to hearing more of. A real Silver Lining to our local music scene.
17) Sold out with shenanigans to the brim this night at the CBC. A budding crowd that sang along to every word to Budding Trees that left me corner stage in awe to the connection Nahko Bear had with his fans.
18) I felt it. Another Bitch on the Run. This time Samantha Fish at the CBC had her full band, an added horn section and back up singer. A bit different than the broken down three piece blues version of her band that I originally saw at High Sierra Music Festival, but all the same blistering good.
19) Listen to this mix of 80’s alternative rockers The BoDeans with headphones on. Trippy. Always fun to have an 80’s band of this stature come through the CBC, they’re not fading away, just getting older and better. Aren’t we all?
20) The Red Room consistently brings a party. San Geronimo parties. Hailing from West Marin, San Geronimo plays psychedelic, California soul music. A wet dance floor, egocentricities, and too many things on my mind to even think about that girl.
21) Reed Foehl, never met him before, but after his set we were friends. Didn’t take that long. Great job by the Crown Room fan base to sing along to a total stranger. Friends were definitely made and if you have a chance to see Reed, don’t hesitate, he’s a masterful folk. americana, roots, friendly musician.
22) Well there’s a lot I could say about a Todd Snider show, but take a listen to this track I pulled from his CBC show. Maybe a little eccentric, perhaps a little too honest with his songs and stage banter, but he has an engaging act. And an alright guy.
23) The Hoedown, Lost Sierra Hoedown, Johnsville CA, Joe Kaplow in The Lodge. Imagine this; an old ski lodge, I mean old, there was no house electricity and padlocks to secure when not in use. And what it’s used for is beyond me other than the Lost Sierra Hoedown and the annual Plumas Ski Club Downhill Races, since the ski area itself closed in the mid 1990’s. Johnsville Ski Bowl was the first sport ski area in the western hemisphere opening in 1860 when nearby towns were called Whiskey Diggings, Poker Flat and Port Wine to name a few. Longboard ski racing was the sport with competitors reaching world record speeds of 80 mph. Singer/songwriter Kaplow, sits down in front of a circular fireplace and belts out songs from his heart with passion. “How Old is My Soul?” The soul of this festival and location is historic in itself in 2018.
24) I first met Jordan Smart when he played Moe’s Original Bar B Que in 2015. He was a single man living in Monterey playing coffee houses. Today, he’s a married man with a beautiful daughter. “ I Will Be With You Tonight”, from The Lost Sierra Hoedown is a song about a loved lost, but only in dreams. Don’t lose the chance to see Jordan whenever he’s playing nearby, you’ll love him.
25) The Mother Hips, again at The Lost Sierra Hoedown, headliners on Saturday night. The Hips bring it and when Chico organizers were booking for 2018, what better band to get than fellow townsmen Hips? The Hips had been on hiatus since Tim Bluhms accident, but they are back. Killer set to close out the night.
26) Finally, closing out The Lost Sierra Hoedown, The Stone Foxes hypnotized the crowd with the free flowing sweat of Shannon Koehler and the free flowing whiskey and a Shotski. Pure magic Sunday night that gave me just the right amount of energy to drive home immediately following their late night set. Look for the newly reformed Stone Foxes opening up for The Magpie Salute (Rich Robinson, Marc Ford & Sven Pipien of the Black Crowes) in Berkeley, Folsom and Reno in January 2019.
27) “Gone Are The Days”, Darren Senn was gifted the opportunity to perform to a near sold out seated Crown Room, opening for the great David Bromberg. Singing songs from his relic life, telling stories from his heart and ultimately getting pressed to CD and streaming on Spotify, Pandora and SoundCloud. Like Darren said, “How did this happen?” He might not be chasing the ice cream truck anymore, but he has many great days ahead of him performing his craft.
28) Bromberg plays the blues. A catchy lyrical song about relationship issues with searing soloing and flavorful vocals. I had never seen David Bromberg before and thank you Crystal Bay Club for the booking and opportunity to work with him. He is a kind, precise gentleman with a pinch of humor. Look for Bromberg touring January 2019 with Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and Larry Campbell. Now that would be a show to see!
29) I can never get enough Whiskey. Poor Man’s Whiskey. Nor “My Sierra Girl”, as the train rolls by the Truckee River….. PMW @ The CBC playing Darkside of The Moonshine with The Wizard of Oz on the tv’s was a sight to see and hear. A full house with a Dorothy and a Toto or two, the bands lost costumes and some in crowd acoustic playing made for an incredible night. Can’t wait for their next visit!
30) OMG! DWC killed it this night in Reno. I have seen the Dead Winter Carpenters way too many times to even guess, but this night at Cargo @ The Whitney Peak Hotel they simply crushed it. I have been heartbroken and skeptical that this band can ever get to higher levels when they lose an outstanding band member as they have, but then they reform and come back better than ever. I will never second guess the talents in this band. “Tahoe Gal” goes all over the place on this psychedelic version with a drum intro, Swimley Hendrix and Jeni all over the place on the fiddle.
31) Margo Cilker and The Cargo Milkers at Pignic Pub, Reno. Margo sings about wishing to be someone else in this one, “Brother, Taxman, Preacher”. She may wish to be someone in the lyrical form, but what she is in real life is a kickass country singer/guitarist! I’ve worn out my bluetooth on this concert recording, take a listen to the full set and if you like what you hear, go see her at Moody’s, Truckee, on the 11th & 12th of January 2019 or at The 40 Mile Saloon in Reno on the 15th. You can thank me later.
32) “Burn It Down”, Lobos, from The Fillmore, San Francisco. This song from Tin Can Trust came at a time in my life that I was going through changes and it really helped me out. Might be a bit direct, but much better than saying c’est la vie. It’s not a popular Lobos song and I was happy to hear them pull it out of their song bag.
33) Tracorum is a San Francisco based rock and soul, rhythm and blues band that is just loaded with talent. “On The Radio”, wouldn’t it be nice to hear Tracorum on the radio? Again, this song just tells a story in my head. I remember listening to the radio, I still do at times just to try to catch a tune like this. Smooth listening in the Red Room.
34) “Alphabet Aerobics” by Blackalicious has to be the trickiest, fastest lyrical song that I have heard in The Crown Room. I wasn’t looking forward to this show to be honest due to an earlier hip hop show with an up and coming artist, but Gift of Gab and the rest were old skool, respectable and professional.
35) This was a birthday party, but felt like a gift to all that was in attendance at Moe’s Bar B Que for Eric and Z’s birthday celebration. Willy Tea Taylor is a baseball fan and he sings about it. Both birthday celebrants are big baseball fans and we had a Jr. Giant Hall of Famer in the house. Knuckleball Prime was a big hit on a big night.