Music filled Peter Michael Escovedo's childhood home.
"It was really very normal of us as we grew up to see many musicians in our house," Escovedo said. "I could walk through the living room and there would be up to 17 people rehearsing. Carlos Santana would come over to play. This was our normal. So, to go on stage and play together was really no big deal."
Escovedo is the percussionist and one of the vocalists for the E Family the Escovedos who boast one of the most impressive résumés of any current ensemble when it comes to sheer output.
The Nelsons could claim impressive lineage through three generations Ozzie, Ricky, Matthew and Gunnar. The Escovedos have matched that and are working on four. They play at Cache Creek on Saturday.
"My father, Pete, is 77," said Escovedo. "His granddaughter Taleia is 13, and she'll come on stage from time to time and sing some Alicia Keyes or Justin Bieber. We promote all kinds of music on stage. We truly believe generations should not have separate music."
Musicians, regardless of age "just have to make an honest connection to what you play," Escovedo said. "My kids and nephew rap over a Latin jazz beat, for instance. There are only two kinds of music good and bad."
Pete Escovedo began the history-making band Azteca and was one of the early members of Santana. On timbales, he's played with the likes of Tito Puente, Arturo Sandoval and Chick Corea. He leads his own orchestra as well as playing with the E Family.
Daughter Sheila E, probably the best-known of the group, has had hit records and recently was nominated for an Emmy as musical director for "Fiesta Latina: In Performance at the White House." She sings and plays drums and congas for the family. Brother Juan also plays congas and drums and sings.
"We don't do a lot of shows, because we have our own careers," Peter Michael Escovedo said. "We will go through different combinations, adding to the basic four." At Cache Creek, Escovedo's son Dominic will be part of the band.
"One of the most difficult things in this business is to be able to move where the music moves," Escovedo said. "We have circled around all genres. The biggest record-making success right now, for instance, is Disney, with 13-to-17 girls the biggest market. It's a fad now and so people are taught something like it, and then go do it.
"When we grew up, we were allowed to find our own style in our own way. Pops would point at an instrument and say, 'Why don't you play that?' and we'd try."
The E Family is a side project, not a band aiming to put out records, Escovedo said. "We are, however, talking about doing another CD, and right now we are talking about a reality show."
That show would be based on business, however, not the family members' personal lives.
"In the meantime, any time the family can get together and do our own thing is a blessing." (8 p.m.; $35, $45, $55; 800-225-2277 or www.cachecreek.com).
At Thunder Valley
Ventriloquist Terry Fator, who performs Saturday at Thunder Valley, does not think he would have much of a chance were he to compete on "America's Got Talent" today. He was the show's second-season winner, and is now about to extend his three-year run at the Mirage in Las Vegas, performing in a theater with his name on it.
"It's mostly the format of the show I don't think I'd have a chance," Fator said of today's "America's Got Talent." "(Current judge) Howie Mandel has made some real negative comments about me. When I met him, he told me he does not like ventriloquists. In my opinion, of course, the best panel of judges has always been Sharon Osbourne, Piers Morgan and David Hasselhoff."
Those three were judges when Fator won. "But it's more than the judging," Fator said. "The show has become more hostile. They pump the audience up and promote their booing. I got some boos when I first walked out on the stage, but I won them over. The whole atmosphere now is more Jerry Springer and focuses more on humiliating people."
Fator made such a huge impact because of his ability to throw not only his voice but the voices of others. Cher, Axl Rose, Etta James or Justin Bieber can be channeled through Winston, the Impersonating Turtle ("who always reminds me that it was he who won 'America's Got Talent,' " Fator said), Duggie Scott Walker or Maynard Tompkins.
"I'm about to add Monty Carlo, a lounge singer who performs as Dean Martin and Tony Bennett," Fator said.
Monty Carlo is a character who has been performing in the lounges, taking any gig he can, and dreaming of getting in the big room for decades. It is not unlike Fator's arc, playing small clubs and county fairs for 20 years.
In 2007, he found himself working a small state fair, to an audience of one 12-year-old in a venue with 1,000 seats. He gave up when the janitorial staff started collapsing the folding chairs while he was still on.
"I think Jeff Dunham and I have revived the art of ventriloquism," Fator said. "Todd Oliver came within a hair of making the finals on 'America's Got Talent' this year. And Vegas has been terrific with me. The bad economic times hit Vegas, but they didn't seem to hit my show. My audiences seem to have saved enough to go on vacation to see me."
His Thunder Valley show will be different from his Vegas show, Fator said, with different characters and voices.
"A lot of people don't realize that I'm not just a ventriloquist," Fator said. "I'm that, and a comedian and a singer and an impressionist. There will be music from whatever generation you are from. Some of the show is silly and some is sophisticated."
Fator also is working on a new DVD "which I want to be timeless," he said. "I'm working on Aretha Franklin right now, for example. I want it to have big voices that hold up singing songs that last. I don't want people to be listening to it 10 years from now and asking 'What was that song?' " (8 p.m.; $32.50, $39.50, $49.50, $69.50, $79.50; 21 and older, ages 13-20 admitted with adults; www.thunder valleyresort.com)
Carson Valley Inn Cabaret Lounge: Decoy, through Saturday; Steve Lord, Tuesday-Wednesday; Steppen Stonz, Thursday-Sept. 22; Dale Poune, Oct. 2-3; the Motifs, Oct. 4-6; Paul Covarelli, Oct. 9-10; Henhouse Prowlers, Oct. 11; After Dark, Oct. 12-13. Ballroom: Restless Heart, Sunday. (775) 782-9711.
Eldorado, Reno Showroom: "Jersey Nights," through Nov. 13. (800) 648-5966.
Harrah's Reno Sammy's Showroom: "Persuasion," Thursdays-Sundays. (800) 427-7247.
Harrah's Lake Tahoe South Lake Tahoe Food and Wine Festival, Oct. 5-7. South Shore Room: The Blues Broads, Saturday (800) 427-7247.
Harveys, Lake Tahoe Improv: Judy Gold, Alex Koll, through Sunday; Rocky LaPorte, Marc Price, Wednesday-Sept. 23. (800) 427-8397.
Horizon, Lake Tahoe Illusion Fusion starring Alex Ramon, Thursdays-Tuesdays. (775) 588-6211.
MontBleu Resort, MontBleu Theatre: Matis- yahu with the Dirty Heads, Sept. 27. (888) 829-7630.
Silver Legacy, Reno Street Vibrations 2012, Sept. 19-23. Grande Exposition Hall: Olivia Newton-John, today; George Thorogood and the Destroyers, next Friday. Reno Events Center: Big Time Rush, Thursday. (800) 687-8733.