Former Liberace Museum favorite brings one-man show to Rampart Casino

When Wes Winters takes the stage, the music is nonstop. A typical evening might include tunes by Jerry Lee Lewis, Michael Buble, Barry Manilow, Dean Martin and Fats Domino for three hours.

In early October, Winters brought his tour of musical hits to Addison’s Lounge inside the Rampart Casino at The Resort at Summerlin, 221 N. Rampart Blvd.

Other musicians might take a break or two during a show that long but not him. He said performing nonstop for three hours was no problem.

"While I’m doing it, it’s fine," he said. "I’ve done this for years and years and years … I prefer to go straight through because once you start, it’s like a train. Once you get the train going, it’s easier to just keep the train going."

Much of the show is audience-driven. Taking requests makes up 75 percent of it. Just about any song someone thinks of, Winters knows.

He shrugged off the ability as no big deal and said he plays off the crowd’s energy. He might take requests, but he includes crowd pleasers. Songs he always does include "Elvira," Roy Orbison’s "Pretty Woman" and "Runaround Sue."

"He isn’t just singing. He isn’t just playing the piano," said Carole Fishman, who helps him with publicity. "He plays the accordion. He plays the guitar. He plays the banjo."

Fishman was the special events and group sales manager at the Liberace Museum when she first met Winters in 2003. That was when he won the Liberace Play-A-Like contest. She began booking him to play there for bus tours and special events.

"People got to see this talented young man from Kansas who didn’t read music," she said. "Of course, nobody believed him" when he told them that.

Return tourists asked when he would be there again so their friends could experience his finesse at the ivories. Fishman put together a database of his fans. The database numbered in the hundreds by the time the museum closed in 2010.

For the past year, Winters has been doing the show from 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at the South Point’s Grandview Lounge, 9777 Las Vegas Blvd. South.

The show at the Rampart Casino is Tuesdays. His contract runs through the end of the year.

How is the suburban crowd different from the Strip-area one?

"They fit in a little bit different demographic," Winters said. "You have those huge housing developments up there that are for the 55, 55-over crowd, so these are folks who are a lot of business professionals, and they retire in Las Vegas for whatever reason. So you get a little bit different clientele. I find a lot more people from the East in Summerlin when I play up there. It seems like they have had a lot more exposure to Broadway music, to a little bit more cultured type music."

That isn’t the only difference. Addison’s Lounge is a 75-seat venue, featuring a dance floor and a raised stage. The Grandview Lounge seats 187. Winters said he was adjusting to the smaller venue.

One of the challenges is there’s no extra place to store a piano, so he works with a keyboard instead.

He’s already getting to know Summerlin people on a first-name basis.

But then, Winters said making friends with his regulars is one of the fun aspects of his job.

At the South Point, one he knows only as "Mae" is 96 and comes every Saturday night. Her family, he said, tells him she "comes to life" during his performance and that she talks about the show all week, looking forward to the next one.

Carrie Proffitt-Boyle, entertainment and event manager at the South Point, said Winters engages the audience "within two minutes from beginning to end. Wes has a way of reaching out to the audience; he seems to know what they like. He’s perfect for our demographic. … He makes sure everybody gets involved and has a good time."

His own favorite song? Winters said it "has nothing to do with anything I play. I like a lot of the stuff that’s not mainstream. There’s a Broadway musical I just love; it’s from the show ‘Chess.’ "

Winters is scheduled to perform in Addison’s Lounge from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays. There is no cover charge. Guests must be 21 or older.

For more information, visit weswinters.com.

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 702-387-2949.

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