By Karel C. Ancona, Special to the Carson Valley Times · 4 min read
CARSON CITY, Nev. — For more than 50 years, Lydia Pense has been delighting audiences with her brand of rhythm and blues.
She, with her band Cold Blood, opens for The Family Stone, Wednesday, July 12 at Concert Under the Stars, A Benefit for The Greenhouse Project, at Brewery Arts Center in Carson City.
‘I started performing when I was 12 and music is something I love to do and have been blessed with,” Pense said. “Growing up we always had music in the house and my dad, who was a machinist made our speakers and in 1957 brought home a reel-to-reel recorder, which I decided was my toy.”
This toy, lead Pense to an interest in recording – first her family and then onto other things, and mixing.
“I’d leave that recorder going all day and capture everything that was happening in the house, which made my brother crazy,” she said, laughing.
She credits her brother’s musical tastes to having influenced her own.
“He was really into R & B, Bo Didley and I got to listen to that and then Dad loved Big Band music which fostered that love of horns and everything got mixed up and really became what we do.”
And while music was prevalent in her life, Pense could have just as easily pursued her other passion, competitive figure roller skating, which she began doing when she was five.
“It could have gone the other way, but I found myself out there skating and singing along to the songs and then got into a band at 14, and that was it,” she said. “I don’t know that my mom thought that was the best thing, but there we were with our three or four-piece band in 1963, with a stand up bass, playing popular radio songs and throwing in some Ray Charles.”
Things just rolled from there and now, all these years later, Lydia Pense & Cold Blood still play several dates each month and continue recording new material. Their latest album, “Soul of a Gypsy,” was released in 2015.
“I appreciate that I am still able to do this and continue to have a love of music and performing,” she said. “This has never gotten old.”
She did take a five-year hiatus when her daughter was little and by the time she was ready to resume, found that members of Cold Blood had scattered.
“I was living in Humboldt County (California) at the time and Bruce Conte (former Tower of Power guitarist) drove all the way up there to see me and we started going through tunes and from that we formed the band again.”
She remains inspired by audiences worldwide and how welcoming they are.
“I just take things day by day and of course, I’m busy with my grandson now too, picking him up from school every day, and I love the time with him,” she said, adding that he inspires her to come up with silly songs and story ideas, really to stay in touch with her inner child and storyteller.
“I love stories and they they have to say; it’s life you know and no matter what’s happening, I can usually say ‘It’s not funny now, but one day, it’s gonna be,’” she said. “Of course my pets always bring me back to reality and are very loving and grounding.”
“You know, I probably should write a book, because there are so many stories … The Collage, (an early band she performed with) was playing The Fillmore and we were on stage singing ‘Piece of my Heart,’ just kicking it,” Pense said. “We were doing the gig with Janis Joplin headlining, and I didn’t know this until afterwards, but Janis was on the side of the stage and was not happy we were performing that song. Of course, we didn’t know that she was in the process of recording it for her next album.
“There are so many things that have happened over the years.”
Expect an evening of classic Lydia Pense & Cold Blood, as well as new material.
“Expect to have a great time.”
Special thanks from TGP’s board to Title Sponsor Carson Tahoe Health, and to additional sponsors NVEnergy, Dick Campagni’s Auto Group and Gold Dust West Casino and Hotel.
Tickets range from $25 to $65 available online at www.carsoncitygreenhouse.org or in person at Brewery Arts Center Box Office 775-883-1976; and at Carson City Visitors Bureau, 716 N. Carson St., 775-687-7410.