Painting the town blue

T-Bone Stone hosts a weekly blues jam at the original Cantina Los Tres Hombres

Photo By David Robert

T-Bone Stone hosts a weekly blues jam at 9 p.m. Saturdays at the original Cantina Los Tres Hombres, 7111 S. Virginia St. There is no cover charge. Call 852-0202 or visit

There is something about the blues that it from other genres of music. Perhaps it’s the smell of old leather commingled with cigarette smoke, or the glitter of gold in the stage lighting, that is hypnotic and familiar. The blues is comfortable down to the soul; it transcends the boundaries set by society and touches us deep down where it hurts. It is an American art form to the hilt, and it’s nice to know it’s alive and well in Reno.

This is what the weekly open mic blues jam at Cantina Los Tres Hombres is all about. For the musicians out there, it’s an opportunity to strip the layer of dust off those guitars, basses and harps (as in harmonicas, not Celtic). Put the needle on some records by Muddy Waters or John Mayall, get inspired, and show up next Saturday night at the blues jam ready to play.

Your host, T-Bone Stone, has played such prestigious events as the Monterey and Chicago blues festivals. Stone leads Doug Emerson on keyboards, Doug Sandall on bass and Barry Puhlovski on percussion as they dedicate their collective talents to jam original music. More importantly, as keyboardist Emerson says, “[We’re] there to back up other musicians.” All you have to do is show up with your axe and plug in, while the magical voodoo of the blues takes over.

The blues jam has been happening at Cantina Los Tres Hombres for several years. It was the brainchild of Mark Proud, who asked Stone to organize it, and it’s been going ever since. It’s set up so that local musicians who want the chance to jam with professionals can do just that. Or, you can just sit and soak in Stone’s own music, which he points out is “all original stuff … Every song on every album is different. I like to keep ’em guessing.” This kind of improvisation is the door prize for everyone who attends the blues jam. (Intrigued? Check out Stone’s latest album, I Smell Catfish, due out later this month.)

Stone says “it is always exciting to have others come and play” and “if you were wishin’ you were playin’ instead of sitting at home,” this is the place for you. Emerson says “it’s just laid-back, good fun.”

Even accomplished musicians feed off the energy, creativity and inspiration of amateurs, and that’s the beauty of the blues jam. In order to grow as a musician or a songwriter, it is crucial to have the input of other sounds, fusing into your frontal lobe. Authors have writers; artists have colonies; Reno blues musicians have the blues jam.

Maybe you have been sentenced to life in San Quentin’s creative ward, or perhaps you got a bit frustrated one day and pulled a Pete Townsend on your plaid Ethan Allen couch … Then again, you may only need a little push to get out there and show your stuff. If you are pondering learning an instrument or just enjoy listening to music unfold before your very ears, check the blues jam out. Whether you like your blues raw, medium-rare or blackened, this is the place to be.