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Sam Butera: Keeping Vegas Swing and that Ol’ Black Magic of Louis Prima Alive

Originally published in Discoveries magazine, November, 2004

In the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, Vegas knew how to swing. In fact, that was what Las Vegas was all about. The lounges and the skills of the players on their stages were every bit as important as the casinos. Music gave that town life. It injected it with a jazz sensibility that couldn’t be found anywhere else. [Read more →]

November 13, 2008   2 Comments

Keely Smith, Still Singing Pretty for the People, Prima Style

Originally published Discoveries magazine, December, 2005

Vegas, 1958. A place and time of slot machines, fancy hotels, high class restaurants, dancing girls, wild entertainment, and music that swung. The slot machines are still doing fine in the twenty first century, so are the hotels and the stage shows, but they’re different. Real different. The original Sands Hotel, the Sahara, the Desert Inn, all gone, and the shows are dominated by magic and gymnastic circuses. The music is still a big deal, with major acts that have set up shop there, like Barry Manilow and Elton John. But their work is in Vegas, not of Vegas. [Read more →]

November 13, 2008   9 Comments

Searching For The Dolphins: The Mysterious Life of Fred Neil

Originally published Discoveries magazine, September, 2001

‘I’m not the one to tell this world how to get along / I only know that peace will come when all hate is gone / I’ve been searching for the dolphins in the sea / And sometimes I wonder, do you ever think of me.’ — from ‘The Dolphins’

Fame is a funny thing. The average American in 2001 could easily spot and identify Jennifer Lopez walking down the street, though most over the age of 21 would be hard pressed to name one of her hit songs. Pop culture, marketing, and pervasive electronic media have done their jobs, ensuring that we all can, at the very least, identify Miss Lopez as she walks down the street. [Read more →]

November 6, 2008   6 Comments

Hard Travelin’ with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott

Originally published Discoveries magazine, July, 2006

“I love Maine, I used to live up here. I got to visit my brother last night. He’s got a little house in the woods about a hundred miles south of here.” Ramblin’ Jack Elliott has traveled everywhere and met everybody, from cowboys to presidents. And right now, from a hotel room just an hour before he hits the stage in Maine, he’s mostly interested in talking about the place where he is and the person he just saw. I’ve learned quickly that trying to harness Jack Elliott is like trying tame a bucking brahma bull (which, incidentally, is something he knows how to do), so I figure my best bet as his interviewer, is to let him say what he wants to say. It’s all interesting. [Read more →]

November 2, 2008   1 Comment

CD Liner Notes: Rhythm and Joy – The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Live 1980

It was the last day of 1980 and in Kansas City, Missouri, one of the coolest bands of the previous decade was on stage. It was a memorable reunion of the group’s original lineup of mountain man songwriters, players, and friends. The Ozark Mountain Daredevils were still alive and well on the rock and roll road at the time, having just released a new studio album, but it had been five years since keyboard player Buddy Brayfield had performed with his friends. Same goes for Randle Chowning, whose warm melodies drove the group’s sweetest pop songs (“Country Girl,” “Leatherwood”). [Read more →]

November 2, 2008   No Comments