Sometimes it’s easy to forget what a powerful presence B.J. Thomas was in the 1960s and 1970s. Popular music has changed radically since Burt Bacharach tunes were routinely topping the charts, but there’s hardly anybody who hasn’t heard “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” (it popped up last year in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”) Younger listeners might have needed to be told who recorded it.
Thomas, appearing Saturday at Cache Creek, replaced Diana Ross and the Supremes at the top in 1970 with “Raindrops” and quickly followed up, replacing Elton John with the monster hit “Hey, Won’t You Play Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.” More hits followed – “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Rock and Roll Lullaby” and “Two Car Garage” among them.
Thomas’s first recording, a cover of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” caught the attention of Dionne Warwick, who went to Bacharach to suggest he use Thomas for “Raindrops.” It started a career that led to five Grammy Awards (four in gospel) and in Thomas becoming (and still is today) one of the top 50 recording artists of all time.
For more-recent listening, check out Thomas’ Living Room Sessions, songs reworked acoustically and recorded with Richard Marx, Vince Gill and Keb’ Mo’. (7:30 p.m.; $35-$49; cachecreek.com)
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This is the final weekend of the Lake Tahoe SummerFest. Paul Watkins of the Emerson Quartet and director of the English Chamber Orchestra appears Aug. 14 at 7:15 with music of Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss and Franz Joseph Haydn. Concerts also take place Aug. 15 (7:15 p.m.) and 16 (4 p.m.) at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village. ($85; tahoesummerfest.org)
It’s a “Funk Fest” on Aug. 15 at Thunder Valley when one of the founders of that musical genre, George Clinton, brings his Parliament/ Funkadelic to Thunder Valley, joined by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly and Kurtis Blow. ($42.75-$102.75; thundervalleyresort.com)
The Grand Sierra in Reno debuted its shiny showroom last weekend with Billy Idol. There are a few kinks, particularly when it comes to getting 2700 rowdy people seated in a timely fashion, but audiences were ecstatic with the venue. Things may go a bit more smoothly when Diana Krall plays there Aug. 15. (8 p.m.; $50-$110; grandsierraresort.com)