The sun’s setting behind the casino, leaving imprints of red and orange on Hogback Ridge across the lake. Kids swim in the pool, laughing and splashing each other. People spread across the grass, swaying to the music while on the stage, the Higher Logic Project, Lake County’s local reggae band, has just finished their set. Now it’s time for reggae legend Pato Banton. “We’re going to chill the vibe for a bit here. Antoinette ‘Roots Dawtah’ Hall kicks in on the keyboards. Sing with me,” Pato begins. “Life, oh life. Life is a miracle.” He stops for a second and holds the mic out to the audience. “Now you know the lyrics. It’s your turn.”
Pato’s a seasoned performer and quickly has the audience’s full attention. Everyone sings back to him, “Life is a miracle.” The groove’s mellow, and Pato shares a bit about the blessing of life before picking up the energy with some of his other hits, like Gwarn and Don’t Sniff Coke.
“I do not sniff the coke. I only smoke,” he sings, and the band rocks in sync with him—the audience cheers. Everyone’s dancing now, and Pato doesn’t slow down, bringing song after song to the stage.
Earlier this afternoon, under the bright midday sunshine, it was much quieter. The green lawn was empty, save for a few booths popping up around the edges. Jessica Shown-Morgan, Marketing Manager for Konocti Vista Casino, walks over to the casino’s booth, a small wheel in her hand. She’s happy to have live music happening again.
“We are excited that Konocti Vista Casino & Resort is able to continue these outdoor concerts,” she says, setting the wheel on the table. Jessica’s owned a home on the lake for eleven years, but just two years ago made what she refers to as the “Lake County Leap” and moved up full time. “We’re happy to be able to host outdoor concerts again.” She pauses for a second as a van backs up to the stage, leaving imprints on the grass. A couple of roadies hop out of the back and begin unloading sound equipment.
A few people, having checked into their rooms, start setting up their spots for the concert this evening. A couple works on a popup canopy together, then attach what looks like a garden sprayer to it—It all makes sense a few seconds later, when the husband pumps it up, then sprays himself down with the mist. Another couple sets up foldup chairs in one of the few patches of midday shade. The feeling everywhere is anticipation and excitement of what’s to come.
“And,” Jessica continues, looking at another family, having just checked in, heads down to the pool. “It’s the perfect staycation place.”
It’s easy to understand while people like to get a room and hang out for a while. You can enjoy good food at the Valentino’s inside the casino or pick up a drink at The Point. Plus, the Marina Grill’s right next to the stage, and the convenience store’s next door, just in case you need a snack.
Oh, there’s also the view. The stage sits on the edge of the lake, the grass just in front of it. Every person at the concert will watch the Hogback Ridge, Nice and Lucerne, turn from reds and oranges to purples as great musicians like Pato Banton bring the groove.
“They say we have gone over our time,” Pato says after what feels like fifteen minutes.
“No!” the audience yells.
“Let us do this,” he responds. “We will play you a medley.” And the band kicks in again, and Pato’s off playing some of his bigger hits. But it’s over too soon, and with a shortened version of Never Give In, the set’s over.
Most of the audience packs up their blankets and wanders out to the parking lot to head home. But all the people who booked rooms hang out for a bit, chat with the musicians, and relax for a while before taking the few steps to their beds.
The Summer Music Festival Has Two Shows left: August 7th is country with Buck Ford and Amador Sons, and August 21st is reggae with Arise Roots, SJ Vibes, DJ Slee, and SS Productions. For complete information, visit their website.
Konocti Vista Casino
2755 Mission Rancheria Rd., Lakeport, CA 95453