Under Tahoe skies: Poor Man’s Whiskey covering Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’
If you go
What: Poor Man’s Whiskey
Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
When: 9 p.m. Friday, March 4
Cost: $15 plus fees in advance; $18 plus fees at door
CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. — If you’re a fan of music, no matter the genre, you’ve likely heard songs from Paul Simon’s Grammy-award wining album “Graceland.”
Ranked No. 71 in Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list, “Graceland” — an eclectic mix of pop, rock and folk deeply steeped in South African music — features standout singles like “You Can Call Me Al,” “The Boy in the Bubble,” and “Under African Skies.”
But even if you’ve heard “Graceland” many times over, you’ve likely never heard the album played live, in its entirety, through a bluegrass lens.
On Friday at North Lake Tahoe, you can experience just that.
Poor Man’s Whiskey, a four-piece bluegrass outfit from Northern California, will follow up a set of their original music with an interpretation of “Graceland” as a special second set of their headlining show at the Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room.
“We wanted to bring the show to Tahoe, since it’s such an amazing set,” said guitar and mandolin player Jason Beard of performing Simon’s signature record. “We’re only doing it a few times this year since we did it a lot last year.”
PMW debuted a “Graceland” tribute set a year ago with a (foot-stomping) bang, performing a sold-out show at the historic Fillmore in San Francisco.
“They’ve responded really well,” Beard said of the fans. “We put our own twist on the music — a little bluegrass-y, a little Americana — but still trying to capture the essence of (“Graceland”).
“All of the songs, once you start hearing it, so many people connect to that album at some point in their life. At points we can just stop and let the crowd take over the vocals.”
Back at the CBC
Poor Man’s Whiskey is no stranger to jamming at North Lake Tahoe, either. The band has played everything from two-night stands at Truckee’s Bar of America to company parties at Sugar Bowl Resort.
And once PMW first played at the Crystal Bay Casino years ago, the North Shore spot quickly became one of the group’s favorite venues.
Which is why, after a few-year hiatus, Poor Man’s Whiskey is especially amped to pour back into the CBC.
“It’s usually a wild, rambunctious evening,” Beard said. “The crowd is always very responsive and we get along well with the folks, and get a lot of good feedback and audience participation, and just feeding off their energy.
“That’s one of the reasons we like the Tahoe area, we just get good vibes.”
Performing tribute sets stamped with their high-energy jamgrass sound is a Poor Man’s Whiskey staple.
The group’s repertoire includes a “Tribute to the Allman Brothers Band” and an unwinding of Pink Floyd’s “Darker Side of the Moon” with the aptly named “Darker Side of the Moonshine,” which they recorded as a two-disc album in 2009, and performed at the CBC in 2013. On top of that, PMW has five studio albums of original music, including its latest effort, “Whiskey Under the Bridge” (2015).
Read more about Poor Man’s Whiskey at poormanswhiskey.com.
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