Original Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship guitarist Paul Kantner, right, leads Jefferson Starship into Harrah's Tahoe on Sunday.

Mel Shields: A 'White Rabbit' weekend of psychedelic tunes at Tahoe

Published: Friday, May. 24, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 23TICKET
Last Modified: Tuesday, May. 28, 2013 - 9:29 am

Memorial Day weekend has always marked the beginning of what is known as "the season" in resorts around the country.

It is no less so at Lake Tahoe, although the atmosphere is a bit different than it was even a few decades ago, when the elite from Northern California made the journey to open their usually elegant vacation homes and fired up their usually expensive boats.

Everything is more egalitarian these day, of course, although the big houses are still there and they are still frightfully expensive. But the lake is marketed to vacationing families more than ever, and Memorial Day weekend kicks off a series of special outdoor events, scenic hikes and paddlewheel cruises.

There's still plenty to enjoy even if the late-May weather goes iffy (it snowed just a little over a week ago and has been known to do so as late as July).

And what's more egalitarian than rock shows?

This weekend, live music at the lake is topped by a Harrah's Tahoe appearance Sunday by Jefferson Starship.

The band's appearances in northern Nevada started in 1981 at Sahara Tahoe (now the Horizon) and helped to put mainstream rock into casino showrooms. Concertgoers remember Grace Slick, then performing with Starship, waxing ecstatic on the stage over the elegance of her dressing room.

This Jefferson Starship is the most recent incarnation and is headed by Airplane's founder, Paul Kantner. He began the group in 1965, but it was, of course, their February 1966 Fillmore Auditorium appearance in San Francisco that put them on the map. And it was the 1967 album "Surrealistic Pillow," featuring "White Rabbit" and "Someone to Love," that helped them rise to national prominence.

To understand Kantner's take on the many changes the band has undergone – from rebellion to pop to somewhere in between – just listen to "Stairway to Cleveland."

This is the band's first appearance in northern Nevada in a decade. (7:30 p.m.; $38.50; Ticketmaster )

Memorial Day weekend begins another season as well of the popular excursions of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad between Carson City and Virginia City.

The trains travel the historic Comstock path used by miners. They pass by mine shafts, cemeteries and herds of wild mustangs. The three 1914 Pullman cars are pulled by steam engine – either a 1916 Baldwin Consolidation or a 1914 Baldwin Built Mikado.

Departures are at 10 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays from Carson City and allow a few hours free time in historic Virginia City before the return trip. ($48 adults, $42 seniors and veterans, $28 children 3 to 16, infants free; vtrailway.com or 775-847-0380 ).


CASINO GUIDE

Boomtown, Reno – Events Center: Dave Mason, Sunday. (800) 648-3790.

Carson Valley Inn – Cabaret Lounge: Stew Stewart, today-Saturday; Scott Helmer, Sunday-Wednesday; After Dark, Thursday-June 1. (775) 782-9711.

Eldorado, Reno – Great El Dorado BBQ, Brews and Blues Festival, June 21-22. Showroom: "Menopause the Musical," Tuesdays-Sundays, through July 14. (800) 648-5966.

Harrah's Lake Tahoe – South Shore Room: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, June 1. (800) 427-7247.

Harrah's Reno – Sammy's Showroom: The Four Tenors, through Sunday;Biggest Little Sideshow, June 7-Oct. 13. The Stage @ the Zone: Caravanserai, Three Blind Mice, today-Sunday. (800) 427-7247.

Harveys, Lake Tahoe – Improv: Nick Griffin, today-Monday; Bob Zany, Wednesday-June 2. (800) 427-8397.

Horizon, Lake Tahoe – Illusion Fusion starring Alex Ramon, Thursdays- Tuesdays. (775) 588-6211.

MontBleu Resort, Lake Tahoe – Outdoor Event Center: Lake Tahoe Reggae Festival, June 29. MontBleu Theatre: Gretchen Wilson, next Friday. Blu Nightclub: "Electrik Blu Full Moon EDM Series," today. (888) 829-7630.

Silver Legacy, Reno – Spring Fever Revival Classic Car Show, next Friday-June 1. Grand Exposition Hall: Creedence Clearwater Revisited, today; Amy Schumer, Saturday. (800) 687-8733.

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