Local author Patricia Crane will be bringing her book and presentation of “Casino Sidemen: Reno Showroom Musicians of the 1950s-1990s” to A to Zen on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 6:30 p.m.
Crane takes a look at the unique showroom culture that developed from this era of stage shows with large orchestras and flashy headliners. Reno and neighboring cities throughout the Sierras, hired musicians as sidemen for casino stages who worked to provide accompaniment for prominent singers, dancers, and comedians.
Interview subjects blend misgivings, enthusiasm, and humor to describe showroom life and the musical legacies they left behind.
Tasked with viewing music just hours before performances, convincingly playing diverse musical styles, facing the “minefield” of live shows, confronting challenges never addressed in conservatories, and struggles to maintain personal and professional standards, all in efforts to gratify audiences, casino sidemen brought some of the best in entertainment to Northern Nevada.
Photographed in the book is Lew Epps, who played the trumpet in South Lake Tahoe in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. Mike Epps, owner of A to Zen, shared some conversation and photographs about his father with the author, making it a special event for A to Zen.
Crane contributes to the local music scene, playing music and teaching in the Northern Nevada area. She learned to play the violin as a child in St. Louis. She left Missouri after marrying her career-military husband, Stewart. She added the viola to her primary instruments in 1992, and has been a free-lance musician across the United States and Europe. She received a master’s in musicology at the University of Nevada Reno in 2006. She, along with her family, settled in Reno in 2001.