Now is the time of year for a little Gordon Lightfoot. Fall, it seems, brings about a less-hurried atmosphere in the showrooms of Nevada and the comfort of the season seems right for Lightfoot’s mellow evening.
Here comes his 50 Years on the Carefree Highway tour, time to look back at a long career that began modestly (a small group called The Teen Timers, a rejected first-song effort called “The Hula Hoop Song,” a stint on Canadian television’s “Country Hoedown”), moved to writing songs for folk singers such as Ian & Sylvia and Peter, Paul, and Mary, and finally found him with major hits of his own.
Lightfoot cut his chops in taverns such as La Cave in Cleveland and Steele’s in Toronto, and to this day, he is most comfortable in smaller settings where he can create a coffeehouse atmosphere with his ballads and his dry sense of humor.
There’s also a little history to be learned when listening to Lightfoot, about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, of course, but also about the sinking of the Yarmouth Castle off Miami, Ohio, and a little bit about the building of the Canadian Railroad. (at Jackson Rancheria 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, $30-$50, jacksoncasino.com; and at Harrah’s Tahoe, 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, $55; www.ticketmaster.com)
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Thunder Valley winds up its summer outdoor series with some rousing music on Friday, Oct. 2, from Marco Antonio Solis, joined by the band Camila on his La Experiencia Tour. “Yo To Necesito” and “Tu Amor O Tu Desprizio” highlight the evening. (7 p.m.; $62.75-$225.75; thundervalleyresort.com) And R. Kelly brings his solid rhythm and blues to the arena Saturday, Oct. 3. (8 p.m.; $49.75-$199.75)
Cache Creek hosts an installment of the 40th Annual San Francisco Comedy Competition on Friday, Oct. 2. The contest has lost a little of its luster over the past decade because of YouTube and cable comedy access, but it was the event that saw breakouts like Robin Williams, Louis CK, and Ellen De Generes in years past. (9 p.m.; free with club card or $20 at the door; cachecreek.com)
On Saturday, Oct. 3, the lighter side of the 1960s British Invasion plays Cache Creek as Herman himself, otherwise known as Peter Noone, leads his current group in those songs that stick in your mind even after all these decades – “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” and ‘I’m Henry the VII I Am” just two of them. (8 p.m. $25-$49)
Finally, a week after Chicago played Thunder Valley, one of its most famous players, Peter Cetera, arrives at the MontBleu on Saturday, Oct. 3. He was in on 18 of that group’s famous albums and has had a pretty distinguished personal career since leaving the band in 1986. He plays hits such as “The Glory of Love” and “Restless Heart” on this tour with his seven-piece electric band, The Big Daddys. (9 p.m.; $75.50-$85.50; montbleuresort.com)