From Florida to the lights of Vegas was the next big musical adventure in 1992, via a Grey Hound Bus, and a little detour. My sister Cheryl, was getting ready to have a baby [my niece Nicole], and my younger brother Alan was in the Air Force stationed elsewhere at the time and just couldn’t be there at that time. So I left Florida, got on the bus and went to Tucson, Arizona to try to help out. Since the music scene in Florida was not really popping at the time, and there was not much going on in the regular employment arena, this was a much needed diversion. I did take an amplifier, and my 1960 Gibson Les Paul Jr. in an oversized guitar case big enough to put my clothes and things in (on the road again) and got on the bus Gus. I got settled in and in a short time and started doing some jamming in the area. One of the highlights was jamming on stage with the guys from the backup band of Bob Wills (I’m on the left with some of the original Texas Playboys). The fiddle player George was really quite good, and the rest of the guys made me feel right at home. I really didn’t do any paying gigs there in Arizona, although I did jam with an Air Force F-16 instructor pilot. After Nicole was born and Cheryl was doing okay, I headed north to my brother’s place in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Las Vegas was definitely a 24/7 town! When I first got there I worked at a lumber yard with my older brother David. He and my sister Debbie put me up in their place until I wore out my welcome. I eventually got my feet on the ground and went to work as a guitarist and backup singer with “You Can Be a Star” finalist, Daryl Cain and his band “The Mavericks”. We played enough gigs to get noticed and gain some buzz in Vegas. A reporter came by one of our gigs and did a story on us. The problem was when the story came out, it was more about me, (and how good an entertainer I was) then about Daryl or the rest of the band. When the article came out later that week it didn’t sit well with Daryl, and I was let go “in the interest of the band”. I guess an ego can be a dangerous thing, but also a necessary evil for an entertainer.
I started rehearsing with another band that ended up putting the cart before the horse. I knew they were not ready to publicly perform, but the other guitar player insisted they were ready. They ended up doing an audition gig (without me, or my knowledge at the time) at a club and basically got booed off stage. I found this out later when they told me they were dissolving the band. They ended up getting black listed in a lot of the casinos.
From that point on I pretty much just did side work, and fill in jobs as a guitar slinger for hire. I played a lot more as a side musician than I did working in a band. One of the gigs I really enjoyed was at a “Wet-n-Wild” with a band called Texas Gold. It was a hot day, a great audience, alcohol, and a lot of Bikinis with drunk girls in them! Here is another picture of me with my favorite electric guitar (my 1960 Gibson Les Paul Jr.)!
One night I was playing fill in, and a record executive from Black Horse Studios in Nashville was there checking out the front man of the band I was working with. All I knew was it was a paying gig, so I was working. The front man was trashed that evening, so I was left holding it all together. I sang most of the songs and we pulled the gig off and had a pretty good night. I was very glad about that. Before the executive left, he gave me his card and told me that he liked my singing, playing, and entertaining, and if I was ever in Nashville to come see him. I thought to myself well this looks promising. I ended up staying in Las Vegas for about two years playing as a side man for various bands and entertainers.
When I had enough of the 24/7 lifestyle of gambling, drugs, and rock ‘n roll; I decided to head back to Florida to slow my life down a little bit and clean out. From the lights of Vegas back to the sunshine state in 1994 was quite the road trip. I had been 2 years out west and I was ready to head back east. Being an Elvis fan, I made another detour and made the pilgrimage to Memphis, and Tupelo. After that, it was straight on through to Florida and family. I had driven straight through from Laughlin, Nevada to Pinellas Park, Florida by way of Tennessee and Mississippi. After 12 hours of much-needed sleep, I went right away to looking for work. I had found work with a temp agency, and started working the very next day. The good thing about temp agencies for a musician, is that you can set your own hours of availability. This worked out well for me because when I earned enough money, I headed up to Nashville to meet with the record executive I had met in Vegas. The only glitch was that I had brought along some excess baggage from Las Vegas. Because of her, the opportunity to work for Gaylord entertainment in Nashville dissolved. The next time I would be in Nashville was with an audition for the television show “Nashville Star” (but that’s another story).
This is another installment of my blog about a 46-year musical journey as a performing Country/Rock/Blues musician. Please LIKE, COMMENT, and SHARE with all of your friends. You can follow my complete musical journey with photos, videos, free mp3’s of my original music, and very soon some live webcasts at: http://bit.ly/29y9eBV Enjoy!!
Next blog: I got rid of the excess baggage…