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A little country, a little rock n’ roll
by Andrea Tyrell
Sep 02, 2013 | 3168 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Country cover and original band Rustler’s Heat performed in the Cabaret Lounge in the Nugget during the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off.
Country cover and original band Rustler’s Heat performed in the Cabaret Lounge in the Nugget during the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off.
John Ascuaga’s Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off not only brought out the rib lovers but music lovers this year. With 27 different musical groups performing throughout the week-long event, each act offered the crowd’s ears everything from funk and school to down-home country music.

Two of the up-and-coming musical groups that performed this year, Rustler’s Heat and the Saloons, brought rustic sounds to the cook-off stages, converting new listeners into fans.

Buddy Emmer fronts Rustler’s Heat, a country cover band, playing everything from old classic hits to newer jams by Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert, performed in the Nugget’s Casino Cabaret during the week.

Originally from Dallas, Emmer grew up around a variety of music, citing George Straight and Jimmy Hendrix as influences to pick up a guitar. After traveling through the Reno area, Emmer decided to stay in the Truckee Meadows. Emmer’s wife, Kim Emmer, sings lead vocals and teaches the crowd how to two-step in between songs. Rustler’s Heat also includes Jerry Spikula on the bass guitar, Jeff Conrad on keyboards and drummer, Bryan Jenkins. First known as the Grand Sierra Resort’s house band for the last three years, Rustler’s Heat is building a following as a versatile country band. Members were excited when the Nugget asked them to play at its event this year.

“The Cabaret Room in the Nugget is beautiful,” Buddy said. “There aren’t a lot of places that play strictly country music but the Nugget is great. They have a remodeled dance floor that allows more room to move and a nice sound system.”

Rustler’s Heat has released several live performances taken while performing at Mustang’s in the Grand Sierra Resort. The band is working on a country album it hopes to release by the end of the year and it played some of its new, original material during the Rib Cook-Off.

Higgins, the one-named front man of the Bay area American band, the Saloons, was excited to perform its set for the first time on the cook-off’s West-End Stage Saturday evening. Consisting of three permanent members, Higgins on lead guitar and vocals, Dawn Roora on stand-up bass and back-up vocals and Stephen Caveretto on the melodica, trumpet and harmonicas, and a rotating slew of additional musicians, Caveretto approached Higgins last year at a park in Alameda, Calif. as Higgins played his guitar and watched his toddler play. After a couple jam sessions at the park, the pair was eventually approached by the two, who became their violinist and bassist.

“It’s hard to pigeon hole us into one genre of country,” said Higgins. “We have so many influences, everything from old-school country and bluegrass to traditional Irish music. We like to call us ‘Americana’ as we encompass everything. We play a good mix of slow and upbeat songs.”

The name, the Saloons, came to Higgins through what he calls “divine intervention from the gods of rock and country.” “We all like whiskey,” laughed Higgins. “Our name kind of just fits the drinking culture that we celebrate.”

Hoping to release an album within the next four to five months, the Saloons are currently touring around the northern California and northern Nevada areas, recording live performances for public viewing and placing these videos on their Facebook page for fans.

“We like to be interactive, to make people dance. We like to meet our fans,” said Higgins. “We hope to make it out to Sparks a lot more often.”

For more information about Rustler’s Heat, visit For more information about the Saloons,
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