Usually, casinos book one main star or one main act. But like its name, Elvis Monroe isn't a usual booking.
The group is made up of guys from various bands. Bryan Hopkins is with Paperback Hero and takes on the persona of Elvis Monroe for the gig. Matthew Nelson, one of Rick Nelson's twin sons, appears without brother Gunnar to do bass and vocals. Drummer Ryan MacMillan is from Matchbox Twenty, and guitarist Ben Carey's regular band is Lifehouse.
None of them are leaving their respective groups. They said they are just taking advantage of the creative freedom their success affords them to appear as an acoustic band.
The name is a nod to pop icons Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe and fits the style of music they play, they said.
"The music speaks for itself. I like to call it Americana pop," Carey said. "It's done with an acoustic kind of tinge, but it rocks."
They are slated to appear once a month at Rocks Lounge inside Red Rock Resort, 11011 W. Charleston Blvd. Their next appearance is slated for 9 p.m. Thursday.
Monica Reeves, corporate director of entertainment events at Station Casinos, said the company looked into booking the group after she first saw it perform in May. Elvis Monroe has an indefinite contract with Station Casinos.
She said the possibility of upcoming tours affecting its availability was a concern, and "They assured me that a few of them might not be there on occasion, but we're OK with that. We are a huge supporter of entertainment. They've got subs that will come in and out, but I don't think that is going to affect scheduling too much because they're going to be with us Thursday nights as opposed to Friday and Saturday nights, which are the main concert nights."
Reeves said the once-a-month format was a great way to build an audience with a newer band.
"We hope to get them on a regular basis, this band and other bands," she said. "It's worked before with Nashville Unplugged, when we had bands every month, and now we have them every week."
Red Rock Resort hosted an Elvis Monroe album release party Sept. 8, with about 250 attendees in the venue that seats about 300. One of the "subs," Dan Spreewald, performed due to Nelson's scheduling conflict that night. The self-titled album "Elvis Monroe" could not have come together this quickly without technology, group members said.
"He (Carey) would be on tour, backstage somewhere, or maybe in his hotel room, and he would send the recording of him just playing on the guitar," Hopkins said. "I would be at the gym, or I would be in my car, and I would get this text message, open it up, and I'd hear the music, and I would (turn it around and) sing it back to him. And then when he got back to town, I'd show him the song that I'd just finished writing ... it honestly is the easiest thing I've ever done."
Band members said the close proximity of the crowd at Rocks Lounge was something they appreciated after playing venues with thousands of fans. Hopkins likened it to a regular gig they play in Claremont, Calif., where "it started with 60 people coming out. Now it's a few hundred people every week. And we play the same songs; we don't do cover songs, which is to say, originals. We put on about an hour and a half show, so we're just taking that to another level here at the Red Rock. And hopefully we have that same kind of thing where it's intimate; it's a ('VH1 Storytellers') kind of show. We're up there laughing and joking, and we may have some serious songs, or whatever ... we kind of make fun of ourselves."
Carey said the band is forged on friendships and that comes through in its show. He had met MacMillan six or seven years ago and played a few songs with his band to help him make his record. Ironically, when he first met the Matchbox Twenty drummer, his first impression was that MacMillan was too cool to speak to anyone.
"And he thought I was a total 'rock star guy' with an entourage of chicks with me," Carey said. "We were both feeling these totally false things about each other, and we started talking one day, and by (the end of the conversation), I thought, 'He's a really cool guy.' "
They are now the best of friends.
Carey said he was looking forward to the monthly gigs at Red Rock Resort because "I've loved Vegas for a long time ... and the place where we settled, at Red Rock, I feel out of all the places I've been in Las Vegas and all the places we played, I feel like this place 'gets it.' It's a music place. They understand music, and they have a passion (for) music."
The show is for those 21 or older. There is no cover charge. Elvis Monroe is slated to play the last Thursday of every month, with next month's performance set for Oct. 25.
For more information, visit redrock.sclv.com/en/entertainment/rocks-lounge.
Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 387-2949.