Star called Bruno Mars drops in on Lake Tahoe

Star called Bruno Mars drops in on Lake Tahoe

STATELINE — Bruno Mars is today’s quintessential pop star.

The 28-year-old had a sold-out Lake Tahoe crowd in a frenzy even before the curtains rose to reveal against a smoky white backdrop a silhouette of Mars flanked by his eight-man crew of dancers and musicians.

Media were not allowed to photograph the Bruno Mars show at Lake Tahoe.

Media were not allowed to photograph the Bruno Mars show at Lake Tahoe.

“Wake up, Tahoe,” he shouted, giving a warning shot to the…

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Onstage and in the crowd images from the Lake Tahoe stop Aug. 13 of the Count Me In Tour at North Tahoe Regional Park in Tahoe Vista with Rebelution, Iration, the Green and Stick Figure. Slideshow will be updated with IDs.

Count Me In: Reggae at Lake Tahoe Onstage and in the crowd images from the Lake Tahoe stop Aug. 13 of the Count Me In Tour at North Tahoe Regional Park in Tahoe Vista with Rebelution, Iration, the Green and Stick Figure.

Groove Session, ‘California Hurricane’

Southern California trio Groove Session performs “California Hurricane” Aug. 8 in the Heavenly Village.

Tahoe Expo at scenic San Harbor Labor Day weekend

Artist and stage director Julian Forest talks about the Tahoe Expo to be held Labor Day weekend at San Harbor.

Rebelution stays positive, No. 1 on charts, headlines Tahoe Vista show Wednesday

Rebelution stays positive, No. 1 on charts, headlines Tahoe Vista show Wednesday

Tahoe-bound Rebelution has been headed in a positive direction now for more than a decade.

The quartet which formed when the members were Santa Barbara college students has remained intact.

“We are not just synching musically, but also as friends,” lead vocal and guitar player Eric Rachmany told Tahoe Onstage. Marley D. Williams (named after Bob Marley) is the bassist, Rory Carey is on keyboards…

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Weekly blues at Harrah’s extended through September

Weekly blues at Harrah’s extended through September

Rock ’n’ roll fans love the blues, too, although sometimes they don’t even know it.

Jeff Watson returns to Harrah's Lake Tahoe Aug. 11. Kurt E. Johnson / Tahoe Onstage

Jeff Watson returns to Harrah’s Lake Tahoe Aug. 11. Kurt E. Johnson / Tahoe Onstage

Some of the best audience responses at three big shows last week were for blues tunes.

Aerosmith’s Joe Perry gave lead vocalist Steven Tyler a song off when he sang “Stop Mess’ Around,” a tune Peter Green wrote for the original…

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‘Never Came Back,’ the Mark Sexton Band

Reno soulsters the Mark Sexton Band performs “Never Came Back” June 20 in South Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Village.

Chris Isaak is known for his popularity with women who shriek and stare with wide eyes and sing along to each word of every song.

What about the guys? They all want to master guitar like Jimi Hendrix, play football like Brett Favre and, yes, to sing like Chris Isaak.

Or is that just me?

Isaak was quick to refer to Lake Tahoe and casino gambling during a full-26 song set Saturday, Aug. 9 to 1,300 fans in the sold-out MontBleu Theatre. He hit notes as high as Mount Tallac and his suits were as bright as a bluebird morning on the slopes at Heavenly Valley.

“Do you want the family show, the sophisticated show or the rock and roll at the county fair show?” Isaak teased the crowd, adding a caveat after the audience chose the latter. “You might wake up in the morning feeling like you’ve eaten deep-fried Snickers and keep coughing up sequins.”

The crooner-comedian with a pompadour is an amalgamation of Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Liberace.

He mixed his own love songs with music from the place he loves, Sun Studios, playing covers by Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. Isaak’s last album, “Beyond the Sun,” was recorded at the famed Memphis site, Sam Phillip’s rockabilly birth place.
Early on, Isaak walked the showroom’s aisles, singing to fans with phones and heckling his band.

“From up here, you guys look young,” he said from the very back.

Kenny Johnson, plays drums, Scott Plunkett keys, Rafael Padilla percussion, Rowland Salley electric and double bass and Hershel Yatovitz “fancy” guitar. They all wore straight ties and black blazers with stars on the shoulders. Isaak donned a bow tie with a gaudy jacket he calls a BeDazzler.
The group is so tight it allows Isaak to improvise with observational humor. He stopped the band in an instant during “Great Balls of Fire,” the second of three encore songs, to admonish a woman for walking from her seat during the big finish. She must really have had to pee.

But it was musical improvisation that provided the highlight of the evening.

“Blue Spanish Sky,” a fan requested.

Isaak, again with mock admonishment, said, “We’re semi-professional up here. I’ve got the BeDazzler on.”

Nevertheless, the band played the tune, the only time it digressed from the set list. Isaak put heartfelt emotion into the ballad from the 1989 album “Heart Shaped World.” It’s not that the other efforts were not exceptional. But the unexpected tune brought a little extra from the singer, who afterward confirmed it.

“I think we’re better when we don’t practice stuff.”

That’s Chris Isaak: self-deprecating, funny and honest.

Chris Isaak set list
Saturday, Aug. 9
MontBleu Theatre
“Gone Ridin’ ”
“Somebody’s Cryin’ ”
“I Believe”
“Don’t Leave Me On My Own”
“Lovers Game”
“Notice the Ring”
“Let Me Down Easy”
“American Boy”
“Wicked Game”
“Goin’ Nowhere”
“This Love Will Last”
“You Don’t Cry Like I Do”
“Don’t Make Me Dream About You”
“Lie to Me”
“San Francisco Nights”
“Blue Hotel”
“Big Blue Spanish Sky”
“I Can’t Help Falling In Love”
“Ring of Fire”
“Forever Blue”
“You Took My Heart”
“Baby Done a Bad Bad Thing”
“Pretty Woman”
“Big Wide Wonderful World”
“Great Balls of Fire”
“Can’t Do a Thing to Stop Me”

Chris Isaak: the BeDazzler Chris Isaak is known for his popularity with women who shriek and stare with wide eyes and sing along to each word of every song.

Steven Tyler, Aerosmith’s vociferous statement at Lake Tahoe

Steven Tyler, Aerosmith’s vociferous statement at Lake Tahoe

Steven Tyler, rock's king of theatrics. Jim Grant/ Harveys and Harrah's Lake Tahoe

Steven Tyler, rock’s king of theatrics. Jim Grant/ Harveys and Harrah’s Lake Tahoe

Mick Jaggar has histrionics and Bruce Springsteen stage presence, but Steven Tyler is rock ’n’ roll’s king of theatrics.

Aerosmith, which has sold more records than any other United States’ rock band, on a warm Lake Tahoe Friday night vociferously, demonstrated it is even greater in concert.

The band from Boston,…

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Nineteen-year-old blues guitar gunslinger Matthew Curry played a sizzling, all-original set Aug. 6 in the Crystal Bay Casino Red Rooms. Here are photos by Kurt E. Johnson.

Matthew Curry Nineteen-year-old blues guitar gunslinger Matthew Curry played a sizzling, all-original set Aug. 6 in the Crystal Bay Casino Red Rooms.