Took a short trip a couple of weeks ago to stop in and watch and listen to an old friend, and one of the stalwarts of this great city of ours as a citizen, entertainer, and as a man: Jerry Lopez. His creation known as Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns entertains every Monday night inside the Copa Room at the Bootlegger on Las Vegas Blvd., South.
I first began to hear about this guy Lopez who was putting together a bunch of musicians to perform jazz and pop and would be featuring those wonderful instruments called horns; trombones, trumpets, and saxophones. along with the unbelievable rhythm section. Lopez wanted a big sound, and his players had to be able to interpret the music of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. In 1999 he made his Las Vegas debut and the rest is musical history. And speaking of history here is a brief story about the Fat City Horns as told by its founder, Jerry Lopez:
Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns are one of the most exciting, versatile, and creative bands on the scene today. Formed in Las Vegas in 1999 by vocalist/guitarist Jerry Lopez, SF&TFCH are a collection of the finest musicians in the city—musicians who spend much of their time backing artists such as Carlos Santana, Celine Dion, and Donny & Marie Osmond, or performing in shows such as Jersey Boys, Vegas! the show, Rock of Ages, and others. Every Monday at 7:30 p.m., they gather on stage in Las Vegas to bring their special brand of “healing” to their audience, themselves, and to the music scene in general. The “healing” comes from soulful, passionate performances and old school camaraderie that is rarely seen in today’s troubled world.
While old school in their approach to live performances, SF&TFCH are very original and new in their musical conception. Clearly influenced by horn bands of the past like Earth Wind & Fire, Tower of Power, Chicago and others, this band has broken down stylistic barriers that confined other bands, and refined a sound that has aspects of funk, jazz, Latin, pop, and rock, while ultimately sounding like only themselves. This is largely due to the unique makeup of the band: five distinct lead singers, a six-piece horn section, an incredible rhythm section, and several different songwriters and arrangers, all of whom come from varied personal and musical backgrounds. Some are college educated jazz musicians, some are street trained funk players, but they all have these things in common: an intense groove, a perpetual creative spark, and the unbridled joy of making music together as a cohesive unit. This melting pot of talent led to two thrilling live recordings; “Live” in 2005, and “Let The Healing Begin” in 2007, and two remarkably unique and satisfying studio recordings; “When The Curtain Goes Up” in 2009, and “The Answer,” released in 2014. Enjoy the recordings, but to really appreciate Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns, you must see and hear them live in concert—there is no experience like it.
As we sat there in the Copa room my thoughts slowly slipped back to my younger years (1954 to around 1963) when my weekends were spent visiting various jazz joints in Los Angeles, and especially my favorite of all time, the historic “Lighthouse” in Hermosa Beach where Howard Rumsey and his All-Stars held forth: Rumsey on bass, Stan Levey drums, Bob Cooper tenor sax, and Bud Shank on Alto Sax. But what everyone waited for was the guys, and gals, who would pop in for a set or two on any given Sunday. Some of the greatest names in the world of Jazz (this is where West Coast Jazz really began) would show up every Sunday afternoon: Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Miles Davis, Shorty Rogers, Shelly Manne, Stan Getz, Max Roach, Conte Conelli, and June Christy (June was married to Bob Cooper) to name just a few of the fantastic musicians that would drop by. Damn those were some wonderful days. Later, at the Four Queens Hotel/Casino (downtown Vegas,) I would be there when the hotel brought in many the above-mentioned greats during the years the casino had live jazz in the lounge. Heck I even remember Frank Sinatra Jr., and his band playing in the room. That is good for another story.
The collection of musicians presented the Monday night we were there included: Jamie Hosmer, keys, and vocals; Dave Richardson, keys; Pepe Jimenez, drums; Gabriel Falcon, percussion; Nathan Tanouye, trombone; Gil Kaupp, trumpet; Eric Tewalt, saxophone; Rob Mader, saxophone; Phil Wigfall, Saxophone; Tyrig Johnson, vocals; Tony Davich, vocals, and Lannie Counts, vocals. There were also a few sit-ins. One never knows who will show up in the audience. It all depends on what band is in town!
The band opener was a wild trip down the streets of jazz especially composed and arranged by Nathan Tanouye. That was followed with a smooth number composed by Lopez and arranged by Tanouye, “Everybody Wants to Love You.” “Pieces of a Memory,” composed and arranged by Dave Richardson, was a great number, as was “My Big Seven 9” by Phil Wigfall. “Night in Tunisia,” (composed originally by Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker) had a special horn treatment arranged by Tanouye which was fantastic. I felt right at home, as did my guest jazz enthusiast, Debra Campbell.
If you love jazz (west coast or east coast) and live music, and you have a $10 bill in your pocket I would suggest you take a trip to the Copa Room. I guarantee you’ll be well entertained and will be planning a return trip. It’s the best musicians in a city filled with the best!
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:
The completion of construction to widen Interstate 15 near the speedway has Las Vegas Motor Speedway officials excited and optimistic about the track’s traffic plan for next month’s NASCAR Weekend. With added lanes taking fans to and from Speedway Boulevard’s Exit 54 from the Las Vegas Strip, race organizers and local and county representatives expect a quicker and more fluid traffic egress for the March 2-4 races. In addition to four lanes to and from the track’s exit, fans will have two dedicated exit lanes coming off of I-15 from the south.
LVMS also has signed Lyft as its official rideshare partner, and there will be a dedicated drop-off and pickup location close to the fan entrance to the 1.5-mile superspeedway. Speedway officials urge fans to arrive early and utilize mass transportation and rideshare options like Lyft each day.
“We expect this year’s traffic flow to be better than ever before,” LVMS President Chris Powell said. “We have waited for many years for the widening of Interstate 15, and now that it is complete, we are optimistic about the potential for a quicker egress for our dedicated fans after our races. LVMS is excited to welcome Lyft as its Official Rideshare Partner, and it will have a special area for drop-offs and pickups on our property during race weekend.”
The RaceDay Express shuttle bus service has expanded its presence and will deliver more fans to LVMS than ever before. With more than 100,000 avid NASCAR fans expected in and out of the 1.5-mile superspeedway on the action-packed weekend, utilization of mass transportation like RaceDay Express, Lyft and Maverick Helicopters in encouraged.
For fans driving their own vehicles to the speedway, options like the Lucky 7 Preferred Lot, which will have two dedicated exit lanes following the races on Saturday and Sunday, are encouraged. LVMS would like to remind fans that the speedway’s extensive on-site shuttle system will not begin running until 30 minutes after the conclusion of Saturday’s and Sunday’s races due to heavy foot traffic leaving the track. Las Vegas Boulevard is also a main vein onto the LVMS property, and fans using that route are encouraged to utilize Craig Road as another option for accessing Interstate 15. Construction projects on Las Vegas Boulevard south of Craig Road still persist, so fans and visitors should also keep that in mind when traveling to and from the speedway.
Traffic updates will be provided on Sunday, March 4, via the LVMS Twitter feed (@lvmotorspeedway) and on the radio at KBAD AM-920.
The Orleans will bring top country and rock performers to the Orleans Showroom, Bourbon Street Lounge, and Bailiwick. March entertainment will feature performances by Sawyer Brown, Uncle Kracker, Loverboy, Burton Cummings and more.
Sawyer Brown will be in The Orleans Showroom on Friday, March 2. Formed in the early ‘80s, Sawyer Brown has been bringing their top country hits to stages across the nation, delivering unique and high-energy performances for their fans. Throughout the band’s career, Sawyer Brown has released twenty-three albums and 50 chart singles, performing at more than 4,500 shows. The group has also received numerous awards, including a Country Music Award, Academy of Country Music Award and CMT Music Award.
Showtime is 8:00 p.m. Tickets start at $34.95 plus tax and fees and can be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000; online at www.orleanscasino.com; or in-person at gift shops inside The Orleans, Suncoast, Gold Coast and Sam’s Town. Tickets may also be purchased the day of the show (depending upon availability) at the venue box office.
An Evening with Uncle Kracker will be held on Saturday, March 3. Uncle Kracker kicked off his musical career as a DJ in Kid Rock’s “Twisted Brown Trucker Band.” From there, the Detroit-based singer-songwriter and performer launched into a successful solo career, releasing several top singles, including the No. 1 hits “When the Sun Goes Down,” “Follow Me” and “Drift Away,” as well as Top 10 hits like “In A Little While” and “Smile.” He has played to sold-out shows across the county and has appeared everywhere from the American Country Music Awards to “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.” Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets start at $34.95 plus tax and fees, and can be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000; online at www.orleanscasino.com; or in-person at gift shops inside The Orleans, Suncoast, Gold Coast and Sam’s Town. Tickets may also be purchased the day of the show (depending upon availability) at the venue box office.
Well, gang, that’s it for another week. Hope to see you in the Copa Room.