Las Vegas violinist lives his dream on ‘MNF’

Bobby Yang’s violin career has come a long way since he was making $100 a night in Aspen, Colo., bars.

Yang, a Las Vegas resident since 2008, had millions of TV viewers watching him play a killer rendition of the national anthem on “Monday Night Football” before the San Francisco 49ers-St. Louis Rams game.

“I feel like it was the pinnacle of the American dream for me, being a Taiwanese boy,” he said by telephone Tuesday.

From the late 1990s to 2003, Yang was living on tip money from bar requests in Aspen.

“I’m proud of the fact that I never once played ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia,’ the most requested song of my life,” said Yang, a classically trained violinist who plays rock ’n’ roll.

Keep in mind he lived in Atlanta for years before moving to Colorado, where celebrities like Jack Nicholson and Kevin Costner would show up to watch Yang.

A big break came when Costner, who lives on a ranch outside of Aspen, invited Yang and his band to play at Costner’s wedding in 2004.

Big gigs followed, including a party thrown by New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, “with Gisele (Bundchen) in the front row dancing.”

He and his jam band, “The Unrivaled Players,” hope to land in a Las Vegas showroom. They recently made their debut on the Strip by headlining at the Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

“I’d like to think nobody’s doing this in the world,” said Yang, who plays a 280-year-old violin.

HARPER-VARNER WEDDING PLANS

Washington Nationals star and Las Vegan Bryce Harper, who grew up idolizing slugger Mickey Mantle, has plans to incorporate nods to the late Hall of Famer in Harper’s January wedding.

Harper will pay tribute to Mantle’s No. 7 by having a seven-member wedding party nicknamed The “Holy Seven.” They will be wearing Navy shark-skin tuxedos.

Mantle, baseball’s greatest switch hitter and a powerhouse during the New York Yankees’ dynasty years, wore shark skin as a fashion statement.

Harper is marrying Green Valley High School soccer great Kayla Varner in two weddings Jan. 2-3 in Southern California.

I broke the wedding news on Twitter Monday after Harper tweeted a thank-you to Stitched, a clothing store at The Cosmopolitan, for working with him on wedding details. The endorsementlike tweet, which included photos of him at the store, was apparently deleted later in the day.

“He proudly said he was in charge of designing the tuxedos. He dreamed out loud and we matched that,” said Eamon Springall, founder and president of Stitched.

Harper’s obsession with Mantle dates back to his grade school years. He asked for Mantle’s No. 7 but a teammate had it. Harper’s maternal grandfather, Jim Brooks, gave him a rare Mantle poster at age 10 that adorned Harper’s bedroom wall for years.

Harper, who turns 22 Thursday, broke into the big leagues when he was 19, as did Mantle.

“Pinstripes are in his blood,” Brooks told Rob Miech, author of “The Last Natural,” a 2012 book about Harper.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

Artistic director Ryan Elisabeth Reid brings her Sprat Theatre Company from Brooklyn to The Smith Center’s Troesh Studio Theater for a 12-performance run of “Henri” starting Friday. It is her second play about an elderly man dealing with Alzheimer’s. The first, “One Day in the Life of Henri Shnuffle,” got positive reviews from The New York Times. Reid, 23, is the daughter of former Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid and granddaughter of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

THE PUNCH LINE

“Last week North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un missed a ceremony marking the 69th anniversary of the country. Experts say it’s especially strange because he knew cake would be there.”— Seth Meyers

Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or email him at norm@reviewjournal.com. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke.

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