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Tower of Power energizes despite injuries to drummer, guitarist

Tower of Power, shown in a 2016 file photo
Tower of Power, shown in a 2016 file photo Courtesy of Tower of Power/Webster Public Relations

Probably now more than in a long while, it is the right time to attend a Tower of Power concert, an opportunity presenting itself Friday-Saturday, Feb. 3-4, at the South Shore Room Harrah’s Tahoe.

As widely reported, the band’s longtime drummer David Garibaldi and bassist Marc van Wageningen were struck Jan. 12 by an Amtrak train as they left a gig at Yoshi’s in Oakland. Plenty of recovery ahead looms. Van Wageningen remains in critical condition, and Garibaldi is recovering at home, according to the band’s Facebook page. Filling in for Garibaldi are former Tower members Russ McKinnon and Herman Matthews. At the time of the accident, Van Wageningen was subbing on bass for Rocco Prestia, who currently plays with the band.

Tower is powering on, though, planning for a 50th-anniversary album next year, according to founder Emilio Castillo. The group will record 28 tracks and choose 12.

Castillo met Stephen “Doc” Kupka and formed Tower in 1968 as the Bay Area was beginning to supply more than its share of great bands, such as Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Journey, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Santana.

It was anything but easy-going for Tower until something happened at the Fillmore West in 1970. It’s a famous rock ’n’ roll story – the band on its last legs, threadbare outfits, a last-hope audition with Bill Graham, the audience walking out, the band breaking into James Brown’s “Open the Door,” the audience turning around, and Graham signing them. It’s worthy of a movie scene.

Then came, of course, “East Bay Grease” and “Bump City,” the latter album leading to fans calling themselves Bumpsters. And 1973’s “What Is Hip” with the line “If you think you know what is hip, the passing years will show you what is hip.” Tower of Power remains hip. (7:30 p.m.; $50; Ticketmaster)


Ace Frehley, top guitarist and one of the founding members of KISS, brings his “New York Groove,” the title of his first hit solo album, to Jackson Rancheria on Saturday, Feb. 4. (7 p.m.; $40-$50; Meanwhile, KISS itself is scheduled for Reno’s Grand Sierra on April 21. ($144.95-$236.70; (

Adam Carolla, who can expound on any subject and is never hesitant to do so, plays Thunder Valley on Friday, Feb. 3. (7:30 p.m.; $39.95-$52.95;

Brett Dennen will release his new album “Por Favor” in a few months with songs themed around bad times while hoping and asking for better. He plays the MontBleu on Saturday. (8 p.m.; $25-$35; Ticketmaster)

Rebelution along with Passafire bring plenty of reggae to the Grand Sierra in Reno on Thursday, Feb. 9. (8 p.m.; $29.50;

Editor’s note: This story was changed at 1:50 p.m. Feb. 2 to clarify what instruments the injured Tower of Power musicians played in the band.