Bryan Hopkins and Ben Carey have written of recovery before. The Elvis Monroe band mates barely escaped serious harm at the Oct. 1 shooting. In a story familiar around country-music culture, the Vegas musicians were near the front of the stage watching Jason Aldean when gunfire broke out, splitting up and scrambling to safety.
They wrote and recorded the song “The Fight” about surviving that harrowing event.
This week, the two and their bandmates were at it once more, releasing the single and accompanying video, “Be The Change.” The song invokes past tragedies Hopkins has experienced from his days as a child living in North Carolina and later in Southern California, and leading to the Route 91 Harvest shootings.
The song is posted on Elvis Monroe’s YouTube page.
The song’s lead line: “I’ve said stories about my life. Sounds like I’ve lived on the front lines. Earthquakes, riots, hurricanes in my time. We’ll get through this like we did those nights. Like darkest night, that almost took our lives.”
True to its title, “Be The Change,” is a nod to the many workers who help communities cope with the coronavirus epidemic. “This is for the first responders, the military, health-care workers, grocery-store manager for keeping his business open, the drivers who are delivering supplies all over the country,” Hopkins says. “They are the change.”
Hopkins does speak from experience. His girlfriend, Nicole Ruffino, is in the health-care community and has performed EEG testing throughout Las Vegas. Hopkins and Ruffino actually met at the 2017 Route 91 Harvest, and she was standing in front of him when the gunfire broke out. Ruffino’s mother is a nurse in Las Vegas.
“It has been difficult seeing people who are so strong break down in tears because of this,” Hopkins says. “But they do it, because it’s their lives.”
Carey furnished the music and Hopkins tackled the lyrics. The two were never in the same room during the song’s composition, and Elvis Monroe has not performed collectively since an acoustic set Feb. 20 at Notoriety at Neonopolis.
Hopkins and Carey recruited musicians David Pichette of Emerson Drive; Chris Reeve from Avril Lavigne’s band; Ashley Reeve from the Cher production; and Matt Nelson (son of the late Ricky Nelson) of Nelson.
Hopkins, Carey and Pichette have worked separately in Las Vegas. The Reeves’ recorded in Hollywood. Nelson was in Nashville.
“We had been watching the news, adjusting, and writing and recording into our phones,” Hopkins says. “The whole thing was put together through our phones.”
In the end, the singer says, “We need to remember the people who were there when we get through this, who are risking themselves so we can be safe.”
David Osborne, “The Pianist to the Presidents,” hosts a living-room performance on his Facebook page at 5 p.m. Saturday. The place is known as Chez Osborne for online purposes; Osborne usually holds forth at Bellagio’s Petrossian Bar & Lounge. The show is produced by David’s son Joshua Osborne, a visual master and and someone I’d run into regularly on the scene — back when there was a scene.
A wonderful talent, Osborne has played the Strip since debuting at Palace Court at Caesars Palace in 1996. He’s played a total of 67 events over the years, most recently a holiday show for in December for President Donald Trump. Osborne is especially close to Jimmy Carter and has entertained for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Saturday’s show is informal, as Osborne says, “Take off your shoes and sit a spell.”
Station Casinos “At Home” series is continuing over the next two weeks on the company’s Facebook page. Ryan Whyte Maloney posted Tom Petty’s “Free Falling” on Thursday. Coming up Monday is Rustyn Vaughn Lee with “Don’t Let you Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys,” Ashley Redd with “Country Roads” on Wednesday; John Menniti on April 10; Velvet Elvis on April 13; Dan Fester with “In The Summertime” April 15; and Cali Tucker on April 17.
Those vacancies in some song listings will be filled. The Windjammers’ performance of Christopher Cross’s “Sailing” from Wednesday is worth a return visit. All the performances are posted for repeated viewing. They are quite, what’s the word? Healing.
Cirque back at it
The beauty of online entertainment is so much of it is sustainable (see previous). At noon Friday, Cirque du Soleil added an hourlong special to its “CirqueConnect” series at cirquedusoleil.com/cirqueconnect. The company is focusing on highlights from the touring shows “Amaluna, “Volta” and “Bazaar.”
The digital hub continues to present Cirque-specific entertainment, including last week’s 60-minute showcase from “Kurios,” “O” at Bellagio and “Luzia.” That special has been viewed by more than six million visitors since debuting March 27.
Las Vegas Philharmonic Donato Cabrera is hosting a live Q&A at 1 p.m. Tuesday on the Philharmonic’s Facebook page. Send questions in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday.
My contributions, from the rock/pop category: “What is your favorite Danny Elfman piece?” “How about a sampling of a set list for a possible collaboration with The Killers?” and “Your favorite song from the Duran Duran show you attended at Lawlor Events Center in Reno in February 1984?”
Yes, I’ll be joining for the answers …
He is Heard
Bucky Heard of the Righteous Brothers has re-issued his original song, “We Stand,” and posted the video to his YouTube account. Heard released the song after his then-hometown of Branson, Mo. was hit by the Leap Day tornado outbreak in 2012.
Heard applies the song’s message to the current health crisis, posting on the song’s caption, “Nothing is without purpose, my friends, and I hope you all enjoy the message I’ve tried to convey.” Heard performs with Bill Medley at Harrah’s Showroom, and had just moved to Las Vegas full-time when the outbreak hit the city.
Time for Tommy
Vegas sax great Tommy Alvarado has released his original tune “Living Las Vegas,” produced The ode-to-Vegas song seems a good fit for the current crisis. But the theme and release is entirely coincidental. Alvarado recorded in the last week of February. He posted it on his YouTube and Facebook pages March 25.
“It was just a song about the city I love so much, and a way to reach music fans,” says Alvarado, sax player for Human Nature at The Venetian. “I didn’t think that this would happen, so I decided to release it. I hope it lifts some spirits.”
Virtual Cool Hang Alert
A highlight show on the Stageit.com online venue, singer Amanda King and pianist/vocalist Patrick Hogan, is set for 6 p.m. Saturday. It’s 30 minutes well spent; the cover is “pay what you can,” which seems fair enough, right?
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.