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Eli Young Band bringing country music to Lake Tahoe

For country music fans in the Truckee Tahoe region, there’s no better place to be next Thursday, May 25, than Montbleu Resort, Casino & Spa for a boot-scootin’ good time with the Eli Young Band.

“Bring your party pants,” are lead vocalist Mike Eli’s words of advice to guests of next week’s show.

“I would hope that everyone wants to come to the show and stand up, dance and have a good time,” he said.

The Eli Young Band started with four friends, Mike Eli on lead vocals, James Young on lead guitar, Chris Thompson on drums and Jon Jones strumming the bass.

Seventeen years later, the four are still living the music dream, having turned their college band into a household name in contemporary country music.

“We’ve never played in Tahoe so we’re really looking forward to it,” Eli said of next week’s show at Stateline, Nevada.

“We get to head there a little early, so we can go for a hike and check out the views; but we heard it’s pretty cold so we might not be getting in the lake – maybe just stick a toe in there.”

When the band isn’t soaking up Tahoe sunshine they’ll be rocking the stage from Montbleu, playing their tunes including platinum and multi-platinum radio hits, “Drunk Last Night”, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” and “Crazy Girl”.

Their songwriting process, Eli says, is free flowing; it can be difficult to complete a song they’ve set out to write since the band mates are closer to being brothers than friends.

“You get four brothers together to play a football game, there will be fights,” Eli said.

“So getting us to write a song together is a lot like that – we’re so close it’s hard to finish that song we sat down to write because all four of us are so opinionated and likeminded – just like four brothers.”

Though the creative process can be a challenge, the guys try not to reinvent the wheel, keeping it as natural and light as possible.

“We have writers just come stay at the house, write when it feels right and when an idea comes around we try not to push it. The best songs have always come out of the moments when it’s not forced,” Eli said.

Their “10,000 Towns” album is even more special as it’s the first time the Eli Young Band features all four of the artists writing songs together.

As for any favorite songs, Eli said he has a few that are special to him because of their meaning, while others stand out because they’re so popular that performing them can still feel surreal.

“When we’re playing a hit like ‘Drunk Last Night’ and the crowd is singing that stuff back to you it’s really tough to not just love what you do, we’re very lucky,” he said.

“But then there are songs like ‘Guinevere’ that’s a huge hit for our show; but not because it was a big, number one hit, it’s just a fan favorite. When a song like that has as big of a reaction as the well-known ones – it doesn’t have to be a big old radio hit to be important to us.”

Next week’s Eli Young Band show will be filled with fan-favorites as the guys jam into the night from Montbleu.

Grab your cowboy boots and get ready for a night of dancing during the band’s first performance in Tahoe.

“This is just supposed to be a fun party,” Eli said. “We’re going to bring it and we want the crowd to bring it, too.”

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at cwalker@sierrasun.com, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.