My Blue Haven

Blue Haven keeps the blues alive in Northern Nevada

The members of Blue Haven hang out at their “secret bat cave"—aka their rehearsal space.

The members of Blue Haven hang out at their “secret bat cave"—aka their rehearsal space.

Photo by David Robert

Blue Haven will perform at Alturas Bar & Nightclub at 9:30 p.m. June 15-16 and at Cantina Los Tres Hombres Sparks July 7. They’ll also play with Charlie Musselwhite and Fat Chance July 14 at the Taylorville Solar Cook-off.

Reno might not have a Hard Rock Café, but there is a house of blues on the road to Sun Valley. “No shit,” you say. “There’s more than one.”

Indeed. Maybe it was a bad metaphor.

Let’s get this straight: There is not a House of Blues in Sun Valley. There is, however, a house where local blues act Blue Haven can be found when not at the Reno blues haven of the Alturas Bar & Nightclub.

“This is our secret bat cave,” explained bassist Mike “Funky” Komadina, who seemed hesitant for the RN&R’s photographer to shoot anything identifiable in the background. He was also quick to mention that the band would prefer it if people found them at their venues and not at the secret bat cave where they practice. (Just another common-sense disclaimer for the jaw-hinge impaired.)

Inside, Michael “Machine Gun” Thompson (guitar/harp/vocals) is playing a little Q&A with Rich “Full Moon” Maloon (slide/guitar/vocals), while Paul “Boom Chicka” Wesley (drums/vocals) and Komadina back them up. Q&A refers to a musical conversation between two or more musicians communicating to one another via their instruments.

Representing the west side are Thompson from San Francisco and Komadina from Long Beach. Fortunately, the band doesn’t suffer from any internal East Coast-West Coast rivalry. Maybe it’s because Maloon is from Chicago and Wesley is from Toledo.

And they’re white. You might think that qualifies Blue Haven for airplay on Northern Nevada’s top “white blues” station, KBUL, but Haven don’t play that.

“Everything we play is blues-based, which allows us to just set a platform for people to have fun,” Wesley said. “We take them on a roller coaster ride.”

That’s “on a ride,” not “for a ride.”

“Ninety percent of our shows at the Alturas are free,” Thompson said.

Besides this Fourth Street charity, the band actively supports other causes.

“We do three or four charity shows a year, such as the Reno B.LU.E.S. Society M*A*S*H Bash, where we’ll play for free all day long,” Thompson said. “All the proceeds go to the Special Olympics.”

Catch them while you still can.

“We’re booked ahead for later this year to be in Santa Cruz and the Bay Area for a while,” Wesley said.

If you don’t catch them live, the next best thing may Blue Haven’s CD called Keepin’ the Blues “Live.” It was recorded at the Alturas with no overdubs, which means you’ll get a pretty good idea of how they sound in real life: upbeat West Coast-style danceable blues, for the most part, with the occasional emotional and intense stuff thrown in for good measure.

The CD is available at Soundwave, or you can visit the Blue Haven official fan Web page at