Truckee’s vibrant, tumultuous past is brought to life in this season’s Streets of Truckee dinner shows, which combine the historically themed songs of local musician Richard Blair with costumed actors and a three-course meal at Cottonwood Restaurant. Because last year’s performances based on Blair’s From the Streets of Truckee album were hugely successful, the musician decided to give the community a fresh dose of history with another series of dinner performances, which are sure to fill up quickly.

“There’s plenty of Truckee history to write about, and I have plenty of melodies in my head,” Blair said. “It’s been a great way to keep my creativity moving in a forward direction because there’s no stop. Outside of the history thing, just as an artist it’s been a great experience. You’ve found a home and an audience.”

Since the final dinner show last December, Blair has recorded his second album of historic Truckee tunes, Truckee Roots, in his home studio. He’s focused both albums on stories from the 1800s, and while From the Streets of Truckee focused on particular people and places, the new tunes are all about the journeys people took. The album’s first song, Pollard Station, tells about how people used to travel along the Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road, the main stagecoach route of the day.

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“One of the harder songs I went to write was about the Donner Party,” Blair said. “I’m so tired of [cannibalism] being what everyone thinks about when they think about the Donner Party … This song celebrates their pioneer spirit, not the overdone part.”

The upcoming dinner shows will feature Blair performing with local musicians Steve Kershisnik, Craig Iverson, Sparky Kramer, Peter Miller, and Julie Brisnin — some of which also appear on the new album — while performers act out the stories and diners enjoy an 1800s-themed menu designed by Cottonwood owner Mike Blide.

On top of it all, these historic songs are performed in one of Truckee’s historic buildings, The Hilltop Lodge, which was home to the famed Winter Carnival and is considered the first ski resort in the Sierra. Blair even wrote a song about the carnival and the lodge for the new album, aptly titling it The First Resort.

“I’m a local person writing about local history, recorded in a local studio [in my home], on guitars I build here locally,” Blair said. “It’s my slice of Truckee history. I like that idea.”
 

Author

  • Ashley Owen

    Ashley Owen moved to Truckee in 2012 with nothing but a dream of life in the mountains, a car full of clothes, and a best friend. One season turned into three or four (and more, and more) and she's still here, honored to be writing about music, art, and food for Moonshine...and singing in a rock 'n' roll band. While the move to Tahoe was serendipitous, Owen is eternally grateful to call this place home and doesn't plan on packing her life into a car any time soon.

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