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NFL owner staging free downtown rock concert, memorabilia show

Updated January 16, 2023 - 2:39 pm

Whether it’s the Indianapolis Colts or indie rock, Jim Irsay has it covered.

The Colts owner is something of a rock musician, a serious rock ‘n’ roll collector, and bound for a show in downtown Las Vegas.

Irsay is summoning a superstar backing band and several pieces of his memorabilia collection to Downtown Las Vegas Events Center for a show from 6 to 11 p.m. March 4. The event is free and open to the public but requires an RSVP. Tickets will be issued on a first-come, first-serve basis, at jimirsaycollection.com (beginning Tuesday) and eventbrite.com (taking orders now).

Rock legends Stephen Stills and Billy F. Gibbons are billed as special guests. Irsay’s backing band is packed with accomplished players and well-known names, including drumming great Kenny Aronoff (who has backed John Mellencamp and John Fogerty, among many rock greats), session guitarist Tom Bukovak; R.E.M. bassist, keyboardist and vocalist Mike Mills; musician and film actor Danny Nucci (“Titanic”), studio owner, composer and musician Michael Ramos; Nashville artist Carmella Ramsey; veteran guitarist/singer/songwriter Kenny Wayne Shepherd; and Mike Wanchic (also a longtime Mellencamp bandmate).

Irsay’s show has toured seven cities over the past 14 months. Most recently, the owner’s lineup played Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco on Dec. 12. Stills, Buddy Guy, Fogerty and Ann Wilson performed. Irsay’s crew covered a range of of such classics as Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” and Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good.”

Irsay’s collection includes instruments and items from Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Prince, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain. The display will further spotlight autographed photos, handwritten lyrics and other historical music memorabilia.

In May, Irsay spent just under $5 million for Cobain’s 1969 Fender Mustang electric guitar from Nirvana’s 1991 music video “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

“It’s a spiritual thread about people who have an interest in changing the world for the better. Everything is spiritual. Everyone is searching for God,” Irsay told Bloomberg in June. “Everyone is looking, and that’s what music does. It elevates the spirit, and anything in the collection, you know, is from very powerful people that have changed the world.”

The collection also includes U.S. presidential artifacts, documents from American history and unique items, such as a 1953 Jackie Robinson bat, Muhammad Ali’s 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” championship belt, and the original scroll of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” That latter piece is reportedly Irsay’s prized item, which he bought it 2001 for $2.43 million.

“I want no money,” Irsay said in an interview with Reuters last summer. “This is my effort to make the world a better place … It’s to allow people to see it and share these things.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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