weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Ringo Starr bandmate Bissonette jams with UNLV band Sunday

Gregg Bissonette is an accomplished drummer. But he says that isn’t his chosen instrument.

“I used to play metal oboe,” Bissonette says during a phone interview. “But that was years ago.”

A metal oboe?

“I am kidding.”

Bissonette loves to joke it up — when he called for the interview, he asked, “I’m not cutting into Beyonce’s time, am I?” But he is a serious musician, adaptable to all sorts of music stylings, especially rock and jazz. For five years Bissonette toured with Ringo Star and his All-Starr Band, and was a member of the lineup in its eight-show run at Planet Hollywood a year ago.

Bissonette has also backed David Lee Roth, Joe Satriani, Carlos Santana (on Santana’s wildly successful “Supernatural” album), Toto, Electric Light Orchestra, the Bee Gees and jazz trumpet master Maynard Ferguson’s band.

At 3 pm. Sunday, Bissonette sits down in at Ham Hall on the UNLV campus to perform with UNLV Jazz Ensemble I. The ensemble is directed by column fave and the school’s jazz studies program head Dave Loeb, and Nathan Tanouye of Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns and Celine Dion’s orchestra. Included will be selections made known by the great drummer Buddy Rich.

From there, Assistant Professor of Music and DownBeat Magazine readers poll winner Adam Schroeder will be featured on an original student composition by Jorge Machain. Student pianist Patrick Hogan will perform Bill Cunliffe’s Grammy Award-winning arrangement of “West Side Story” in a tribute to Leonard Bernstein.

Hogan, a massively talented artist, is a member of the UNLV Honors Trio that recently performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival after winning the College Combo Division at the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival in the spring, competing among the top university groups in the nation. (Tickets to Sunday’s the show are $10, general admission, $8 for seniors and military with ID. CCSD and UNLV students are free with ID. Tickets are available through the PAC Box office at 702-895-2787 or through box office website.)

Much of Sunday’s program is dedicated to Rich. Bissonette, similar to most professional drummers, is a big fan of Rich’s.

“My dad was a drummer, mom mom played vibraphone and they were both really into Buddy Rich,” Bissonette says. “I was on the same bill with him in the old days, maybe 15 times with Maynard Ferguson’s band.”

Bissonette met Rich, eventually, though not in the forum you might expect.

“When I was with the David Lee Roth band, Buddy’s daughter was a big David Lee Roth fan, and she introduced me to him,” Bissonette says. “Buddy probably had no idea who David Lee Roth was, but that was the connection there.”

Of Loeb, Bissonette says, “I’ve known Dave and been a fan of his for years and he’s a great jazz educator.” Bissonette was enlisted to play UNLV by drumming proponent and benefactor Thomas Bridge, who is an important source of artistic and financial support for the jazz studies program.

Bissonette’s appearance is also made possible by myriad support outlets. The drummer is a one-man music convention, backed by Dixon drums, Sabian cymbals, Remo drum heads, Vic Firth sticks, LP percussion instruments, DW pedals and Direct Sound headphones.

“These sponsors are so important,” Bissonette says. “They help generate interest in the arts. They really make these shows possible.”

Bissonette recalls performing years ago at the old MGM Grand, now Bally’s in 1982.

“I was brought in to play this auto convention, and we wore tuxedos and played all these soft bossa novas,” says Bissonette, who had just graduated from the University of North Texas College of Music. “I was like, ‘Gaaaawly! This is the Strip!’ ”

Now, he says, “We’ve pulled some of Buddy’s charts and arrangements and I’m looking forward to playing them Vegas, baby!”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Taste of the Town: Henderson Booze District
Those who like to support local businesses and sample local products will find the best concentration in an unlikely spot: a Henderson industrial park.
Founder of Las Vegas theater talks about a favorite play
Ann Marie Pereth, founder of A Public Fit Theatre Company, speaks to the Review-Journal about which play she would see every day if only given one option. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Celine Dion’s lounge gig a boon to Las Vegas act

Celine Dion performed “Because You Loved Me,” “Ashes,” Beauty and the Beast” and “My Heart Will Go On.” Her arrival drew a roar from the 300 VIPs in attendance, who were not informed of the night’s entertainment.