Dinner & a show
Truckee’s rich history comes alive on Sunday nights at Cottonwood Restaurant, thanks to one man’s passion for music and storytelling.
Richard Blair naturally created the “Streets of Truckee” show after he organically created a following of fellow locals who love where they live.
“People in Truckee are very proud of their heritage and love celebrating it. I’m bringing history stories to the plate, in a bar with costumes. The show is more modern for the listening ear with melodies, comedy, it makes it more palatable for people to get their history,” he said.
Blair said he has been a musician in the area forever, and began writing about the local history because its content made for a good tune.
“The audience really loved those songs, they were just really popular. Those few songs led to a whole CD, and then I had a one-night showing at Cottonwood where we played the same songs but added actors and that was the beginning of this whole process four years ago,” he said.
Four years later Blair, his actors and narrator are performing songs and skits about Truckee’s past to a sold-out room on select Sunday nights at Cottonwood into January.
“It’s unique because it’s something that gets people out on a Sunday night for some acting and comedy and dinner, and then they’re home early,” he added.
Blair’s songs range in themes; he said he likes to use historical anecdotes to teach people about the area while keeping the show entertaining.
“Everything is fair game, gun fights between the deputy and the sheriff, prostitution, dramatic things — how the Chinese laborers were treated socially; there are plenty of things to write about that are still relevant today. For example, when the Chinese came here they did a lot of work and people just didn’t like them, they intimidated them or killed them, ran them out of town. It was some crazy stuff, and so I touch on those things in the songs,” he said.
During the Streets of Truckee show guests enjoy a musical performance, followed by a skit about the themes just covered in the song.
The performance is a blend of education and entertainment and has become quite a hit among the locals.
“It touches all kinds of folks. There’s a common thread between old stories and keeping them alive. The idea came to me in the most innocent way. I had no idea people would receive and celebrate it as much as they do,” Blair said.
The band features Blair on guitar and vocals, as he’s accompanied by piano, bass, mandolin or fiddle; together they perform Americana music with a nod to bluegrass.
Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at email@example.com, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.