A week after Felix Cavaliere appeared at Thunder Valley, Lee Greenwood will perform there.
When Cavaliere was forming a new group in the mid-1960s, he asked Greenwood to join him. Greenwood declined, and Cavaliere built the Young Rascals, whose first recording, “Good Lovin’,” topped the charts.
Greenwood, 73, is firmly established as a country star because of one song, often called the Reagan national anthem, “God Bless the U.S.A.” (It was used by Ronald and Nancy Reagan throughout the 1984 presidential campaign and sung at his second inauguration at her request.) Before he became a Top 10 success in 1984, Greenwood played just about every type of venue, singing and conducting just about every type of music.
When the MGM Grand Reno opened in 1978, Greenwood played piano and sang songs in the open Club Lounge just inside the entrance. When Breck Wall and Patrick Maes produced revues, such as “Bottoms Up” and “Naughty, But Nice,” Greenwood conducted the small supporting band. He played at cabarets in northern Nevada before heading the Lee Greenwood Affair in the late 1970s – a sort of mini-revue with three singer-dancers.
Raised by his grandparents on a farm outside Sacramento, Greenwood started a band, the Moonbeams, in high school. He had another, the Apollos, and even managed to snag an extended gig at the Stardust in Vegas. Those years were frustrating because lounge entertainment, especially open lounge entertainment, was considered by operators as mostly noise, contributors to the atmosphere but hardly the main ingredient.
For four years Greenwood worked the lounges and dealt blackjack during the day. He finally headed to Nashville for a demo and recording session. There have been 18 albums since and seven No. 1 hits.
Three years ago, Greenwood wrote a book, “Does God Still Bless the U.S.A.?” Last year, he released “Proud To Be an American,” a book with the lyrics of the song and a new download. (Friday, April 1, 7:30 p.m.; $42.75-$52.75; thundervalleycasino.com)
Country is also featured tonight at the Silver Legacy in Reno when Chris Janson (“Buy Me a Boat”) debuts. (8 p.m.; $49.50-$59.50; silverlegacy.com)
Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock, better known simply as Air Supply, the Aussie soft rockers responsible for “Lost in Love” and “The One That You Love,” among other hits, play Cache Creek on Saturday, April 2 (8 p.m.), and Sunday, April 3 (4 p.m.). ($45-$69; cachecreek.com)