Hello, everyone! Joel Richman from Las Vegas, where things are definitely heating up for the summer. After years touring with the likes of Bernard Allison, Shannon Curfman, Tina & The B-Sides, and many others, I decided to move to the blast furnace that is Vegas. Being from Minnesota, I absolutely love it.
When I first got to town I was lucky enough to land the “house gig” at the Blue Note Jazz club. I held that gig for a year until the club closed, and for the last six years it’s been nothing but variety, variety, and more variety—with some variety within the variety thrown in for good measure!
There is, however, the occasional dose of “Vegas weirdness.” One of the first things I learned when I got here is how to keep a straight face when someone tells me, “Oh yeah, that guy is a really good Elvis!”
Last year ended with a good dose of weirdness. On New Year’s Eve, I was on the road with a Blues Brothers impersonator act as part of a multi-impersonator show. The trip from the hotel to the venue was a ride like no other. All of the impersonators were dressed and in character, sitting in seats or walking up and down the aisle doing their shtick—.FOR EACH OTHER. There was Cher, Charlie Chaplin, Robin Williams, Scarlet O’Hara with Rhett Butler, and, of course, Marilyn Monroe. It was surreal, to say the least. Most of these folks turn back into normal people at the stroke of midnight, but a few of them—well—I know one “Sinatra” guy who will actually board a plane dressed and in character the day BEFORE his gig.
The rest of the year has been busy with more “normal” Vegas gigs (with some “variety within the variety” thrown in). Last night I went from Steely Dan’s “Peg” straight into “Beer Barrel Polka”! The crowd danced on—. Later this week I’ll be doing a smooth-jazz gig, two days on a blues gig, and then rehearse for a week on the road with Smokey Joe’s Café. All of that in addition to my regular gigs traveling with Louis Prima Jr. and a swingin’ horn band with a crooner (Mark & The Martinis). I get really stale doing the same gig for too long, so this kind of schedule is perfect for me. Plus it keeps my chops up in a bunch of different bags.
So that’s how it is out here in the desert. Hot and varied, with some occasional weirdness.
See you soon!