Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Great nights in Las Vegas

The last couple of days in Las Vegas have been great, with some amazing music and unforgettable experiences. On Sunday I checked out Wax Trax Records, a store with loads of rare vinyl. Apparently Elton John had been in earlier but when I asked the prices I realised they were out of my range and moved on to an antique mall which was a lot more reasonable.
It was the last day at Viva Las Vegas and the festival went out in fantastic style with three original doowop artists, all of them now elderly but still clearly enjoying themselves and putting on a great show. The oldest of the three was Bobby Lewis, whose stated year of birth varies but who is probably 90. The blind singer had to be helped on stage and lifted by two security staff when he stood, but when he sang the years just rolled away. After I'm So Glad I'm Living In The USA he sang his two best known numbers One Track Mind and the great Tossin' and Turnin' which was a monster hit in 1961. Herb Cox, lead singer of the Cleftones, dressed in a snazzy gold lame jacket, looked very fit by comparison and was pretty dynamic on This Little Girl Of Mine, Heart And Soul and I Love You For Sentimental Reasons. Completing the trio was Eugene Pitt, leader of the Jive Five, who set the place alight was a great version of My True Story, along with What Time Is It and I'm A Happy Man. This was nostalgia at its best - and to think they say that nostalgia isn't what it used to be! An absolute joy and really rather magical. Earlier I caught a good set by a feisty stand up bass player called Little Lesley with her band the Bloodshots, who was enjoyable, even though I am now rockabillied out.
Our final day began with a trip to Red Rock Canyon, which is stunningly beautiful, with lunch at the picturesque Bonnie Springs Ranch, which gives a flavour of the old west. Then in the evening we went hunting some southern soul and blues, thanks to a tip from Noah Shaeffer from Boston, and boy did we find it. The City Lights bar is a smart urban venue, nothing like other juke joints that I've been to, but the music was great. Regular blues singer Bobby Jones, something of a B B King styled singer, was celebrating 55 years in the business and as well as his excellent performance there was a string of other blues artists performing with voices that would put any TV talent contestant to shame. These included the very soulful and delightful Monique Brewster, Tyrone Davis's cousin Patrice Moncel, the bluesy Lady Brandy,  the big voiced Mary Williams and the excellent James Brown styled Willie Ray. Legendary keyboard player Leon Blue, who played with Ike and Tina a Turner and Memphis Slim among others, was in the house. This was a quite brilliant evening's music and we ended the evening at the CEO Hookah Lounge where Walter Waiters, cousin of Mel, was playing. He was highly professional playing just with a keyboard and backing tapes and I would love to see him with a full band.
All in all Las Vegas has been great fun with some fabulous music. Now it's off to Los Angeles.


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