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National Beat: Three Dog Night Brings Joy To Montbleu, Lake Tahoe

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Three Dog Night at Montbleu Lake Tahoe

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By Nick McCabe – Front Row Photo
Nick.frontrowphoto@gmail.com

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Although the lineup of Saturdays Three Dog Night show wasn’t 100% the original lineup, four out of six members were originals. That’s pretty impressive after forty-six years of playing together. Some bands touring under iconic names will have as little as one original member on stage and still be using the name. That’s a little bit cheesy if you ask me. The original members gracing the stage were Cory Wells and Danny Hutton on lead vocals, original keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon and guitarist Michael Allsup. Since 1996 Paul Kingery (bass and vocals) and Pat Bautz (drums) have rounded out the band quite nicely.

They came to the stage, greeted with a healthy round of applause and started off with The Family of Man from Harmony (1971), then they moved to Black and White from Seven Separate Fools (1972). This was written in 1954 about a Supreme Court Decision that outlawed racial segregation of public schools. I never knew that until I was researching this article. Rounding out the first trio of songs was Never Been To Spain also from Harmony (1971). By this time they had the crowd in the palms of their hands.

During this initial set of songs Michael Allsup was having some sort of difficulty with his guitar pedals that was being attended to by a member of the stage crew (a.k.a. a roadie). There was a problem from the outset. They were changing cables and trying other fixes until they finally seemed to get the problem remedied. If you didn’t see it going on you wouldn’t have even noticed. That, my friends, is the sign of a true professional.

One of the hallmarks of what makes Three Dog Night so wonderful is their harmonies. Late in the show they were even doing six part harmonies in an acapella offering called Prayer of The Children (2009) that was absolutely breathtaking. For my own tastes I found that the mix on the vocals for much of the show was a little too rich and on the brink of distortion (and crossing over a bit), much like what The White Stripes do intentionally. Their voices deserved a cleaner sound.

That being said, it was still a great show filled with many highlights. It was easy to see that they were all having a good time. Michael Allsup barely let a smile leave his face. Cory and Danny were great front men sharing stories about most songs before they started them. One interesting story was about keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon's youth as the son of silent movie star Mary O’Brian and the parade of starts such as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Boris Karloff, and his godfather Jack Benny who were always coming around the house.

It’s difficult to ‘spotlight’ a song or two when the whole evening was nothing but great songs from over the years, but let me name a few. Shambala (1973), An Old fashion Love Song (1971), It Ain’t Easy (1970), Leave Your Hat On (1975), Heart of Blues (2009), Liar (1970)…(take a breath here)… These were all exceptionally well received songs. The harmonies were spot on, the music was powerful and clean. Every song seemed to take me back to my school days. I even remembered having Three Dog Night book covers on some of my school books.

One of the most exciting songs of the evening, based on the audience reaction (and mine) was Momma Told Me (Not To Come) (1970) which got a great response. Cory told of a conversation with a fan recently who said that this song was the great grandfather of rap. If you recall, this song from 1970 has a lot of spoken word (rap) in it. In support of that thought the band donned funky hats and glasses and made like characterized rappers. It was very funny and well done. They continued to ramp up to the end with Celebrate (1969) which modulated up in key three times. This is always a good way to get the crowd excited. After finishing up with the previously mentioned Prayer for The Children they returned for their encore with Joy to The World (1970).

All in all, it was a fun evening. Montbleu’s show room is beautiful and was sold out. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. There’s nothing like live music. Get up and get out of the house!

…and the beat goes on.

For a more extensive photo gallery, click here.

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