Musical ship docks at Tahoe, rocks Stateline with the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue
Any blues fan who doesn’t attend Saturday’s show at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe is really missing the boat.
The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue is a five-part party featuring an eclectic mix of some of the best contemporary blues players: The Tommy Castro Band, Deanna Bogart, Magic Dick and Ronnie Baker Brooks. The tour is the on-shore version of a weeklong “Blues Cruise” which has been ongoing for a couple of years.
“The idea came from the late-night jam sessions that happen on the Blues Cruise,” said Castro, who heads up the show. “There’s a thing that happens there that is different from any other situation around.”
The show begins with The Tommy Castro Band, a San Francisco quartet with a heavy emphasis on Memphis soul. Bogart with her tenor saxophone joins Castro band members Keith Crossan and Tom Poole in the horn section.
“I start as a ‘Cast’-right, or something,” Bogart said. “I’m not sure what you should call me.”
Bogart fronts the band for the second set.
The Maryland musician plays both sax and keys, playing what she calls “Blusion.” It’s blues, jazz and Western swing.
Harmonica player Magic Dick heads up the next set, which continues to include the Castro band and Bogart. The former J. Geils player is the most widely known player in the show. His contribution in the show likely will remind folks of the first J. Geils record, a straight rhythm and blues compilation.
Ronnie Baker Brooks, a fiery blues-rock guitarist, is the final addition to the show and concludes with an extended jam session, which is similar to the nightly highlight on the Blues Cruise.
“The main thing that everybody waits for every night is the late night jam session,” Castro said. “The musicians and the audience would just go nuts and they’ll stay out there until 6 in the morning.”
Brooks took time for a phone conversation two weeks ago before he headed out on the latest Blues Cruise. There were also cruises in January and May.
“(On the late-night jam) we might play what ever’s been going on that day,” Brooks said. “If we’ve been watching a video of B.B. King, it’s B.B. King. If it’s Buddy Guy, there ain’t no tellin.’ Or we might come up with something right there on the spot. That’s the cool part about it. There is nothing really scheduled.”
The show’s conclusion fits Bogart’s style just fine. She said she’s never used a set list.
“There is always that surprise factor, which is cool,” said Brooks, the son of Chicago bluesman Lonnie Brooks. “Everybody’s coming from their own bands and they’ve got their own ways of doing their shows. We want to get some kind of format but then again we don’t. We want to let it just roll and everybody knows what to do when we start rolling. It’s like when you pass the ball you know it’s gonna get dunked.”
After the cruise comes ashore in San Diego, the revue will tour California and Tahoe with eight shows in 10 days.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Castro said. “We only get to do this revue a couple of times a year, and we all really look forward to it. It’s a bunch of friends getting together and having a time.”
Edward Chmelewski, the president of Blind Pig Records, which represents Castro and Bogard, agreed.
“They all do something slightly different and they all respect each other,” he said. “They have a great time doing it and that always shows. When people enjoy doing what they’re doing on stage, it’s reflected in the music in how they relate to the audience.”
Castro described the show’s artists.
“Magic Dick is probably the only harmonica rock star that ever was,” he said. “And Deanna doesn’t have any boundaries. It’s hard to even describe her music. It comes from all kinds of places.
“Ronnie, he’s a bona fide member of Chicago blues royalty. He literally inherited the blues. Then you’ve got me. It’s an odd thing that happens at times. White kids from the neighborhoods in San Jose playing the blues who somehow manage to make a career out of it.
“It’s a helluva combination, man.”
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