By Lori Talbot
The sound technician was the only stressed-out person at the Sands Hotel Blues Jam last Wednesday.
Drinks in hand, the rest of the crowd lounged poolside, feet tapping, heads bobbing to the funk-infused blues.
Listed in Reno’s Artown brochure, this casino’s blues night is actually a regular Wednesday night event. The audience got its groove on with the VooDooDogz. The four-person group describes its style as “blues, country, rock, funk and all points between.”
Whatever song they played, they found a way to add a touch of blues to it. The bass guitar laid down a track reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” during the traditionally jazzy “Mack the Knife.” And it worked: VooDooDogz’s rendition was hipper than Bobby Darin ever dreamed of singing it.
Reno resident Linda Friedman is a regular at these blues performances. A transplant from Chico, California, the former chiropractor relocated to Reno in 2010 when she was forced to quit her practice after an injury. She was ready for a change, and a friend brought her to Reno to consider moving here.
Friedman was instantly drawn to the music scene in Reno. A blues aficionado, she never misses the Wednesday night performances at the Sands. “Blues music has influenced most modern music. Even The Beatles are influenced by the blues!” Friedman said.
At the first suggestion that she dance, Friedman hopped out of her chair and began swaying in front of the bandstand. VooDooDogz soon kicked up the energy level with Delbert McClinton’s “Every Time I Roll the Dice.” Friedman smiled and started clapping to the beat and dancing.
Many audience members responded with finger snapping and smiles. VooDooDogz was connecting with the crowd.
When I found out that this blues performance was not unique to ARtown but was instead a regular part of Reno nightlife, I was suspicious. Should I have chosen to go to the more “special” jazz performance that night at the Riverwalk instead? The VooDooDogz answered the question for me. Their blues fusion created an atmosphere that was both relaxing and energizing, a satisfying combination that left me decidedly more peppy than I had felt before their concert.
Friedman said, “This is where you will find me every Wednesday night.”