As Fred Schneider easily explains, to fully enjoy a B-52s show, you need to shake it.
Your leg, he means.
“If you want to get up, get out and shake a leg, we’re your band,” says Schneider, a founding member of the iconic new-wave band from Athens, Georgia. “We like playing cities where people just want to come out and see us and have a good time and dance.”
Las Vegas is just such a leg-shakin’ haven. The B-52s play a triumvirate of shows at House of Blues at Mandalay Bay on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Schneider says he never tires of laying out the band’s classics – including “Rock Lobster,” “Private Idaho,” “Love Shack” and “Roam.”
Maybe the reason for his ceaseless verve is one of his side interests, the Fred’s Monster Coffee. Generously caffeinated, Schneider says the brew is to be consumed only while wearing your dancing shoes.
“I don’t get bored,” he says. “I try to handle myself onstage as someone having a lot of fun, because a lot of people know I can hardly sing.” The current B-52s lineup playing House of Blues also features co-founders Kate Pierson, Cindy Wilson and Keith Strickland.
Schneider has logged enough shows over the past decades — this year marks the B-52s’ 40th anniversary — to establish a wildly entertaining live act. The band was assembled with scant stage experience at the famed Kansas City club Max’s in December 1977.
“There were 17 people there,” Schneider says, “and I was paralyzed with fear.”
Schneider recalls the B-52s first foray into Las Vegas as a 1979 show at the old Las Vegas Convention Center. The band has since played such a diverse list of venues as the Mandalay Bay Beach and, a decade ago, Pure Nightclub (now Omnia) at Caesars Palace.
“I’m just glad we’re indoors,” Schneider says, recalling the sweltering show in August 2010 at Mandalay Bay Beach, when the band co-headlined with Blondie. “I don’t do too well in the heat.”
Schneider says the B-52s reputation as a premier party band is suited for an extended engagement in the Strip. He’s taken notice of the recurring residencies of Carlos Santana and Billy Idol at House of Blues.
“We could do something like that, and we want to do it,” he says. “Put us in there with a couple of bands who like to get the party going, and it would be great. I’m up for it.”
Hiatus for Santa Fe
Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns have hit the crossroads. The band currently has no scheduled dates, having finished its month-long run at Danny “The Count” Koker’s Count’s Vamp’d Rock Bar & Grill on West Sahara Avenue. Band leader and co-founder Jerry Lopez is putting the band down for the next three months “to do some musical push-ups” and chart a future.
Currently under consideration are: an earlier start time of 9 p.m. and linking the performance to dinner at Vamp’d; and changing performance to Tuesday, Thursday or even weekend nights. Santa Fe has prospered for years under the no-cover, or low-cover, 10:30 p.m. start.
But in today’s Las Vegas, the act needs to drive revenue. Lopez is sorting out how to do that and keep the terrific lineup — and “The Healing” experience — intact.
Intense Vault action
A version of the show opens Wednesday for a 13-show stretch through July 22 at Starlite Theatre in Branson, where “Raiding the Country Vault” opened in March. Harry Cowell, producer of the various “Vaults,” says he plans to send a touring show to Mexico by year’s end, and tour “Rock Vault” worldwide in 2018.
The plan is to keep the Vinyl show as the anchor of the “Vault” empire. “Rock Vault” originating producer Simon Napier-Bell plans to expand to “Raiding the Pop Vault” and “Raiding the Latin Vault” next year. No “Rap Vault,” “Jazz Vault,” “EDC Vault” just yet, however.