Psychedelic rock band wrapping up 50 years of music

Fifty years ago, the Charlatans, a psychedelic rock band who came out of the music scene in 1960s San Francisco, played its first performance at the Red Dog Saloon, a famed rock ‘n’ roll bar and restaurant in Virginia City. The band is returning to the Comstock for two commemorative performances the weekend of June 20-21.

The first performance, “A Night at the Opera,” which will be followed by a meet and greet celebration at the Red Dog Saloon, will be Saturday, June 20, at Piper’s Opera House in Virginia City.

On Sunday, June 21, the group will make rock history by playing its final performance as a group, “Locked and Loaded — The Red Dog Experience,” at the Red Dog Saloon. In addition to the Charlatans sets, the event will offer dramatic re-enactments of the most infamous stories from 1965.

The Charlatans were the first of the San Francisco psychedelic rock bands. Its summerlong residence at the Red Dog Saloon starting on June 21, 1965, introduced nearly all of the features that would be the hallmarks of the San Francisco ballroom dance/concert scene, including the first “psychedelic” poster by Charlatan members George Hunter and Mike Ferguson, now known as “The Seed.” Other innovations were the light show, style of dress, long jams and eclectic electric music. The story is detailed in a documentary film by Mary Works.

Performing will be all four living original members of the band — George Hunter, Richard Olsen, Mike Wilhelm and Dan Hicks. Playing with them on drums is Texas Music Hall of Famer Freddie Steady Krc. On piano is Tom “TC” Constanten, former keyboardist of the Grateful Dead who also has a host of credits of his own.

Performances on both days will feature light shows by Bill Ham, the originator of the liquid projection light show and co-creator of the light show machine that colored the Red Dog Saloon in 1965.

The Charlatans are dedicating the shows to the memory of Charlatans pianist Mike Ferguson, Lynne Hughes, also known as Miss Kitty, Chandler Laughlin, also known as Travus T. Hipp, Red Dog proprietor Mark Unobsky and all of the other beloved members of the Red Dog Gang who are now playing with The Really Big Band.

Tickets for Saturday’s performance cost $75 or $100 for both the Piper’s Opera House performance and the after party at the Red Dog Saloon. Tickets for Sunday’s show cost $100. A discount ticket for all events is $175. Seating is limited; both shows are expected to sell out. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Tickets are available at, or by calling the Red Dog at 775-847-7474. For more information about the story of the Charlatans, go to and


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