When Mavis Staples played John Ascuaga’s Nugget in 2009, she said she felt “like I’m singing songs that give people a reason to get up in the morning.” In 2016, she’s still singing them as she will be Saturday, April 23, at Cache Creek, most likely emphasizing songs from her latest album, “Livin’ on a High Note,” which came out earlier this year.
That album emphasizes joy, an emotion that has pretty much defined Staples’ career as she provided support, along with “Pops” Roebuck Staples and the rest of the Staple Singers, to all the marchers and protesters involved in the great civil rights movement of the 1960s. They were called the “musical voice of civil rights” and few other singers of the era are still at it today.
Most recently, Staples is featured on a documentary, “Mavis!,” which premiered last year at the South By Southwest Festival and recently aired on HBO. (8 p.m.; $39-$65; cachecreek.com)
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Lupillo Rivera, “El Toro del Corrido,” performs Friday, April 22, at Cache Creek, arriving soon after a kidnapping incident in Puebla, where there has been a series of kidnappings of corrida singers. Rivera evaded his captors who took his driver and manager (they eventually were released when they would not reveal Rivera’s location). In 2001, Rivera’s SUV was shot at in Guadalajara.
Still, dauntless Rivera continues to perform songs like those from his 2010 Grammy-winning “Tu Esclavo y Amo” and wearing his signature sombreros. (9 p.m.; $35 general admission, $49 reserved seating.)
For a change of pace, James Van Praagh arrives at Thunder Valley on Friday, April 22. The clairvoyant and spiritual medium is the author of “Talking to Heaven,” the book that inspired the Ted Danson miniseries “Living with the Dead.” Van Praagh, like his fellow celebrity mediums (the late Sylvia Browne, for instance) is often attacked for such manipulations as “hot readings” (gaining information from the audience in advance) but is just as often defended by those who come up to the stage during appearances. (7:30 p.m.; $39.75-$54.75; thudervalleyresort.com)
Opportunities for classic rock
Burton Cummings, onetime lead singer of the Guess Who from 1965-75, wrote, co-wrote or sang almost all of that group’s biggest hits (“American Woman,” “Share the Land,” No Time”), performs Saturday, April 23, at the MontBleu. (8 p.m.; $50-$60; montbleuresort.com)
Dennis DeYoung, founder of STYX, brings his latest band to Harrah’s Tahoe for “Dennis DeYoung – The Music of STYX,” on Saturday, April 23. DeYoung wrote and performed most of that band’s hits, such as “Babe” and “Mr. Roboto.” (7:30 p.m.; $56; Ticketmaster)