The scene at Red Rock Resort on Thursday night was as if you drifted out to sea on an aquatic vessel, buoyed by spirited, melodic tones.
But what would you call such an experience, on which to steel away?
Yacht Rock is the term. The Windjammers are the captains. The S.S. Rocks Lounge is the craft.
Band founder Jerry Lopez has hit on something here. Windjammers have performed twice at Rocks Lounge, where the no-cover performances have filled the room, drawn multiple standing ovations and taken the audiences on a cruise away from the stress of the day.
Lopez calls his Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns performances at Copa Room at Bootlegger Bistro “The Healing.” Maybe The Windjammers are the therapy. Though still in its infancy (Lopez first told me of this idea in August), the band has refined such intricate, classic rock songs as “Africa” by Toto, “Ride Like the Wind” by Christopher Cross, “Reelin’ In the Years” by Steely Dan and “Love Will Find a Way” by Pablo Cruise.
— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) January 3, 2020
Originally set up as an act to pitch to cruise lines (shocker), The Windjammers quickly drew the attention of new Station Casinos Entertainment Director Candace Davis-Martin, who eyeballed the lineup and signed the band for 8 p.m. Thursdays through 2020 — and Davis-Martin is enacting a no-cover lineup at Rocks Lounge that features Swing City Dolls, Spazmatics, Grey Street, Chadwick Johnson and Jonathan Karrant, The Beatles tribute band The Fab, Frankie Perez & The Dirty and Phoenix just this month.
As for Windjammers, the band’s musicians are well-known and highly regarded Vegas vets: Lopez, founder of Santa Fe and lead guitarist on Ricky Martin’s 1999-2000 “Livin’ La Vida Loca” tour; Jamie Hosmer of Santa Fe on keys, Steve Grantham of Frenz on drums, Michael Johnson of The A List on guitar, Ray Allaire of Phoenix on bass.
You might not know all of these names, or their respective acts. But these guys are music virtuosos, and the harmonies — so vital in executing, say, “Doctor My Eyes” by Jackson Brown — are tight.
As Lopez says, “These songs are a lot more difficult to play than people realize. They are complex, the harmonies are really challenging, and you have to perform them in a way that looks effortless because that is what people want to experience.”
No question. The room is not set up for dancing, exactly, with the floor filled with seats. But Thursday’s crowd was up and grooving by the end of the show. As we say on the open water, you can nearly feel the spray in your face. Turn it up.
Spence a free agent
The Las Vegas morning-radio personality known simply as Spence has signed off KLUC 98.5-FM. Spence spent 21 years at the station, most recently as co-host of the “Chet Buchanan Show.”
Personal anecdote: I met Spence in an unlikely sort of way, when he nearly attacked me during a Las Vegas Media League softball game in or around 2000. He hit a triple, and I was playing third base for what is now a competing company. Spence, who was known to, you know, run his mouth during these games, came barrelling into third base so I faked as if a throw was coming from the outfield by slapping my glove.
This move is designed to send an opposing player needlessly into a slide. It’s called “deking,” or decoying, and is a real B.S. move on the softball diamond. Especially in Media League. Spence dove into third base, and when he realized what I’d done, he looked like he was about to throw a punch at me. I wouldn’t have blamed him.
“Hey, Media League got chippy,” Spence said Friday afternoon. “We took it way, way more seriously than we needed to. We had a really big rivalry with Cox Communications in those days, and also Fox 5. I was out of my mind.”
Great times, great times. Spence is leaving the station as his contract has expired. “I have no plans yet. I want to stay in town, but there are not many radio jobs out there,” said Spence, whose final assignment was the closing of Buchanan’s annual holiday toy drive on Dec. 15. “Who knows what’s going to come? I am now available for bat mitzvahs, strip-mall grand openings and also as a part-time model at trade shows.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.