Lubriphonic says Chicago Bears not as scary at the Tahoe variety |

Lubriphonic says Chicago Bears not as scary at the Tahoe variety

Tim Parsons

Who: Lubriphonic

The thought of walking down a dark Chicago street might be scary to someone from Tahoe. But it works both ways. So if you talk to Lubriphonic’s guitar player, don’t tell him our bears are preparing for winter by eating as much as possible.

Giles Corey after his 2004 South Shore concert with Otis Rush met some Tahoe residents who invited him to visit their house, which was walking distance from his hotel in the casino corridor.

“I asked if there were any wild animals in the woods,” Corey said. “They said there were ‘tons of bears. They’re everywhere. They’re probably going through the trash right now.’

“‘This is something y’all could have told me before I walked a mile up this dark, wooded road,'” Giles answered. “Every sound I heard, I was sure it was something that wanted to disembowel me. There was all kinds of activity 25, 30 feet away and I don’t know what it is. (I’m a) city slicker.”

Lubriphonic comprises former side players in high-profile blues bands. While it has the work ethic of a blues band playing more than 200 shows a year, its style is funk and R&B. Its second album, “The Gig is On,” was released a year ago this month, around the same time it last played in the Crystal Bay Casino Red Room, the site of a free show at 10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6. It has been trying out several songs on the road in preparation for its next studio record. It will be the third CBC show for Lubriphonic.

“Blake (Beeman, the sound engineer ) has done a great job of making it a venue where touring bands can go, and you’ve got a built-in group of people who know this is the place to go to hear a show,” Corey said. “So people aren’t going there and playing slots and ignoring you. You couldn’t ask for a more picturesque environment.”

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Corey’s 2004 Tahoe performance was one of the last ones for Rush, a famed Chicago bluesman who suffered a career-ending stroke. He said Rush’s speech is slightly impaired but he is in good spirits living in Chicago.

“I played with Otis for about three years and for that time he was only doing fly dates basically just throughout the summer,” Corey said. “I haven’t seen Otis in a couple of years. His condition is about the same. He’s him. He’s Otis. He’s not like a vegetable or anything. He’s coherent and he’s there but unfortunately the damage from the stroke prevents him from playing guitar or performing.”

Corey also played with Koko Taylor, who performed in Tahoe City at Humpty’s in 2004. Corey and drummer Rick King also played with active Chicago greats John Primer and Magic Slim and the Teardrops.

“Otis Rush was my guitar hero when I was a kid just starting to play so it was pretty amazing to play in his band for a few years,” he said. “Otis is just one of those guys who just influenced everybody. When he was really, really digging it deep and feeling it, there was nobody that could touch him.

“He wasn’t really a flashy guy. He wasn’t a showman. He just did his thing, which probably didn’t do his career that much good but none of us would be doing what we’re doing if he didn’t start doing it.”

The players from Lubriphonic have such a reputation as blues players, clubs around Chicago didn’t want them to play funk.

King, in a 2010 interview with Lake Tahoe Action, explained the band’s turning point.

“Our manager got us an opening slot for Buddy Guy at Legends,” King said. “Our first reaction was, ‘Whoa now, we’re playing in that room, can we be ourselves? Can we play our original music or do we need to go in there and play blues? Because if that’s the case, we don’t want to do the gig.’

“He said ‘Nope. Go in there and be yourselves. Do your show. Be Lubriphonic.’ And it went over really well with the crowd, and the booking agent for the Chicago Blues Festival was in the house.”

Ivan Neville, the Dumpstaphunk bandleader, sat in on keyboards. The next day, Neville, who is the son of the Meters’ Art “Papa Funk” Neville, played on four songs on “The Gig is On.” He also played with Lubriphonic at the Chicago Blues Festival, a show that alerted the world to the funk band with a deep blue past.