Rusty Anderson is best known by his associations. He has been, after all, the lead guitarist for the Paul McCartney Band since he was invited to play on Sir Paul’s “Driving Rain” in 2001. Inside the music business, Anderson is respected by a wide array of fellow musicians. The chance to hear him play a gig with his own material is rare.
Audiences will have that opportunity Saturday when he plays the Lake Tahoe Hard Rock (in a musical collaboration with Los Angeles native Todd O’Keefe), emphasizing music from last year’s EP, “Rusty Anderson Afternoon II.” It’s a set of companion songs to “Rusty Anderson Afternoon,” which has yet to make it to his fans.
“The first songs have not been released, but the second were, so that’s why the II,” he explains. “The first songs will probably be the next release. I know the natural reactions is to ask, ‘Where did the first one go?’ It’s confusing.”
McCartney is not the only artist Anderson has played with – not by a long shot. He’s recorded with Neil Diamond, Joe Cocker, Stevie Nicks, Santana, Fishbone and Sinead O’Connor, among others. He laid down the famous surf riff on Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” and when he was with a band named Eulogy, he played with the likes of the Police and Van Halen.
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“It’s been pretty amazing,” he said. “I played on a lot of records before I met Paul, and then I met a lot of people afterward, of course. At some events I see so many celebrities out front I can’t digest it all.
Anderson recalls a couple of scenes quickly, like sitting and writing with Elton John – “He’d start on lyrics and I’d slam chords” – or playing with Willie Nelson and harmonica player Mickey Raphael for the tribute album “The Art of McCartney.”
Anderson, who plays his own signature Gibson 335, will play the Hard Rock and soon after head to an Asian tour with McCartney, who he says is “very nice, very warm, and that trickles down from the top to the entire band. I’ve been in a lot of bands and there is always a problem child. Not so here.” (Tickets start at $25; 9 p.m.; hardrockcasinolaketahoe.com)
North Lake Tahoe has always had a more laid-back attitude than the opposite South Shore. Lately, it’s also been the location for some large festivals, the newest of which has its debut March 20 and runs through March 22 “WinterWonderGrass” is a music and craft beer fest at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. It’s themed “Music, Brews, and Mountains” and features the music of, among others, Trampled by Turtles, Greensky Bluegrass and Sam Bush. (Visit winterwondergrass.com)