The perfect "musician's band"
On a recent trip to Las Vegas I attended an event at The Palms Hotel on a Monday evening where a band called Santa Fe and the Fat City Horns has a regular gig. The gig was recommended by several musicians throughout the day including Bob Ruggiero (drummer, Van Morrison) and Miles Fox Hill (bassist extrordinaire). My dear friend Dave Pierce (2010 Vancouver Olympics / Sinatra - Dance with Me) had seen the band a week before and just had to go back for a second helping. So what can a guy do? Like a great restaurant recommendation you have to see for yourself.
Now keep in mind that Monday nights anywhere are usually dead in the live music scene. Las Vegas is no exception. The big splashy shows on The Strip are usually closed on Mondays to give cast and crew a much needed break.
This Monday night was a rich musical buffet though. Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns is a band comprised of the top musicians in Las Vegas. It's a chance for them to hang out and really flex their muscles. It was like witnessing an entire stage full of musical thoroughbreds at the Kentucky Derby. What a spectacle. They were effortless in their execution yet powerful at any given time. I got the feeling that this was a special night for not only the audience but for them as well.
Being a sideman / sidewoman for a show in Vegas is probably a grind. Some of the best musicians in the world come to Vegas to make a living doing what they love. Many of them are at the pinnacle of their careers but yet they are non-descript and plain in appearance. To know any of them by name means that you are probably a musician yourself. It's a world of earned reputation and little celebration.
When bandleader Jerry Lopez put this band together he had one goal: “I want each of you to bring in a piece of music that you have always wanted to play but couldn’t get away with in a lounge, showroom, or any other commercial gig. It can be an original piece, a cover, whatever. And then we’re going to have some fun making it our own." (from their Facebook page)
Is this band the best band in America? It depends on who you ask. If you ask a musician this question after seeing the band they would probably say "Yes!" If you asked someone from the public though... they might say "I don't get it." Suffice to say, Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns is the perfect band for other musicians like a Ferrari is a perfect car for car enthusiasts.
SF and the FCH should keep it that way too. Dave Pierce went to the gig to scope talent. He's always in need of incredible musicians. It's a win/win/win on a musicians scale. The band gets to exercise their chops, the audience gets to be inspired by witnessing excellence and the cream rises to the top when members of the band earn gigs with big stars like Bette Midler, Cher and Celine Dion. It's THAT kind of a gig. And it's remarkable.
Thanks for one of the most memorable Monday nights of my life.