Back on stage, with no limits

Photo submitted Lacy J. Dalton

Photo submitted Lacy J. Dalton

Country singer Lacy J. Dalton is heading back to the concert stage this spring with an old friend and a new sense of freedom.

Though mostly known for her country hits during the '70s and '80s, such as "Sixteenth Avenue," "Black Coffee" and "Crazy Blue Eyes" as well as her wild horse benefit CD "Wild Horse Crossing," Dalton said her influences run the gamut of American music and make up her playlist today.

"My music is from a lot of influences," she said. "Some of the best people I've played with were jazz and blues players playing country."

She'll be putting all her influences on display as she kicks off her spring concert tour with two benefit shows Saturday and Sunday at Piper's Opera House in Virginia City.

"I will play new songs at this show as well as the songs that everybody knows," Dalton said. She'll also be selling her new CD, "An Anthology."

In addition to country, she has played folk, bluegrass, rock 'n' roll and blues, even performing with a psychedelic rock band in the late '60s, when she met Will Strickland, who will open her Piper's Opera House shows.

Dalton said her promotion and booking are more work these days without a record label backing her, but the benefit is she can do what she wants.

"I don't have to cater to record companies or radio," she said. "It's harder, because I don't have the promotion I used to, but I can say what I want to say, sing what I want to sing. I don't have to edit myself."

That lack of self-editing was on display at a recent dinner with Strickland at Cafe Del Rio in Virginia City, when Dalton unexpectedly broke into a silly little ditty, just for fun.

"You're so fat, but I love you most of all. Did I mention that you were bald?

"You have two teeth in your mouth, one goes north and one goes south, but I loved you most of all."

"Most musicians love all music," she said. "The fences get put up by the marketing."

Dalton said she's looking forward to the Piper's Opera House shows, which will raise funds for the historic hall as well as the Let 'Em Run Foundation she founded to help preserve Nevada's wild horses.

She calls Strickland "my twin brother from different mothers."

They hung out at Barney's Beanery in Los Angeles in the late 1960s, where Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix hung out, and where Quentin Tarantino wrote "Pulp Fiction."

That unusual environment, ironically, led to her country success.

"When I was in L.A., I had a psychedelic rock 'n' roll band," she said. "I had a friend named David Wood, who was a lawyer in the music industry. I sent him a tape."

Wood told her she needed to sing country, and if she switched styles, he'd get her a record deal. The rest was history, as Dalton hit the charts regularly and produced 15 nationally distributed albums.

Dalton, born in Bloomsburg, Pa., paid her dues working in restaurants until she made it in music.

"Lots of times I would have two jobs," she said. "I had four jobs to buy my first guitar."

She was a cook when she and Strickland met.

He is known for his wild saloon shows that he performs in Virginia City, but said he will be more of a concert player in the venerable opera house.

"What I intend to do will be more William R. Strickland than Wild Will," he said.

"Willie Nelson coming out at a Pink Floyd concert and killing everyone with love" is how Dalton describes Strickland's music. "Very eclectic."

In addition to her shows, Dalton still works on the Let 'Em Run Foundation, which created the Comstock Wild Horse and Mining Museum and Gift Shop in the old V&T bullion car on C Street in Virginia City. The museum sells horse-related gift items and dispenses information on the area's wild horses, with all funds going to wild horse-related activities.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.

If you go

WHAT: Lacy J. Dalton concert

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Piper's Opera House, B and Union streets, Virginia City

Tickets: $25 in advance; $30 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased at the Comstock Wild Horse and Mining Museum in the old V&T train car on C Street

CALL: 847-0433

On the Net

Other tour dates

May 5-7 - Marathon De Mayo races in Reno.

June 3 - Michael's on Main in Soquel, Calif.

June 18 - Don Quixote's International Music Hall, Felton, Calif.

June 29 - Paradise Performing Arts Center, Paradise, Calif.

July 4 - Incline Village's Red, White and Tahoe Blue Festival

Aug. 30 - LeRoy Van Dyke's Country Gold Tour, Mount Pleasant, Iowa

Oct. 4 - 56th annual Rex Allen Days Celebration, Wilcox, Ariz.

Dec. 21 - Black Oak Casino, Tuolumne, Calif.


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