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The Sam Chase & The Untraditional shook the ground at Cypress (photos)

By Tony Contini
Published: Last Updated on

It’s always a party when The Sam Chase & The Untraditional come to town. They drove up from San Francisco and treated Reno at Cypress. 

Caitlin Jemma started the show with her blend of pop country and some occasional jazzy piano. She grew up in Nevada and shared her love for the state and the “blasts from her past” in the audience throughout the show.

“No matter how much California tries, it’ll never get the ratchet Nevada out of me,” Jemma said. 

She has a great way of using her hands while singing, especially during big finishes of songs. It’s something between a conductor and interpretative dancer. 

“Thanks for coming out on a smoky hot night,” Jemma said. “We’ll try to be smoking hot too.”

She welcomed the audience to share a special moment remembering people we’ve lost. She sang about the people she loves and pressing topics like humans being stuck in their phones. I felt like a fool taking notes into my phone as she addressed the dopamine-draining devices, but we press on.

You know that moment when someone in the crowd speaks loud enough for the performer to acknowledge it and it adds something funny or genuine? 

That can be really candid and meaningful.

But then sometimes that same person combines the high of being acknowledged with liquid courage and feels the need to say more shit?

Caitlin Jemma at Cypress in Reno, Nev. Image: Tony Contini / This Is Reno

We can let one thing slide, but check yourself.

Jemma closed with a cover of “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and all was well with the world.
The Sam Chase & The Untraditional came out with a bang and pivoted the evening to a folky bluegrass vibe with bite.

Jemma’s keyboard player and drummer stayed onstage and played all night long. 

The three vocalists in the band immediately stuck the landing on beautiful three-part harmonies. Sibling harmony is arguably the best type of harmony, but this lot are a close second. 

“We came up from San Francisco with an AQI of 4 to give you a little piece of heaven on your hellscape on earth,” Chase said.

Their upright bassist vowed to turn ReNo into ReYes.

From there, they absolutely crushed for hours. Chase said they were used to playing 2 hour+ shows, and this evening would be no different.

They play mini covers between songs and often take creative liberty with the lyrics. They dipped into Pink Floyd’s “Money” while Chase sang about the audience buying merch.

They have a wonderful tradition of taking a knee or bowing while their compatriots take a solo. And everyone on that stage deserved a solo. 

The crowd took the cue when they played “Ground Shakin’.” They then played a swinging country cover of Rob Zombie’s “Dragula” which worked perfectly with Chase’s gravely delivery.

Chase is quite literally the only person I feel nervous to post my photos of, because before we met, he was the only person to roast me publicly about a photo he hated of himself. 

I think photographers and performers have different opinions when it comes to “guitar faces.” I want to see the craziest passion imaginable while someone is playing (the B.B. King effect). Chase is not a “G-C-D” type folk singer, during interludes he shreds his acoustic guitar and his face sometimes shows it. This time around, he leaned into it and gave up an adorable JCPenney pose for the camera.They brought Jemma back up for a transparent, honest encore and called it a night.

”We’ve played a lot of shows in Reno,” Chase said. “And this has to be one of the best.”

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