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Art Vargas celebrates music of old Vegas

Art Vargas has a mission in life: to introduce audiences to the music of Vegas’ golden age.

Vargas and his four-piece band, Swank Set, are scheduled to play from 7 to 11 p.m. Sunday and Jan. 30 at Roxy’s in Sam’s Town.

“I love that music,” Vargas says of performers such as Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis Jr. and others from the era. “That’s my mission, to bring this music to a new audience.”

Vargas doesn’t do Top 40. He won’t even think of doing it. There are enough bands out there performing that music, he says, but there aren’t too many guys like him.

“We put together a show that gives people an authentic taste of what it was like to sit in a Las Vegas showroom in the ’50s and ’60s,” Vargas says. “My whole style and representation of material is definitely nostalgic. I do all the great music of Vegas’ heyday. I love the music. It’s always been something I felt close to. It’s always felt like I was an old soul from a different era.”

Vargas grew up in Detroit knowing that he would one day become a singer. He moved to Las Vegas in 1987 to perform as Bobby Darin in “Legends in Concert.” His goal was to start his own band and perform the music of the Rat Pack, Cole Porter, George Gershwin and others. He got the chance to do that in 1993 and spent the next few years playing gigs all over town.

“I believe it’s a style of music that you have to have a knack for executing properly,” Vargas says.

Some consider that style of music to be out of fashion, but it actually has a strong, young following, he says.

“People need to take it seriously, it’s not just music for senior citizens,” Vargas says. “There are people who will show up if you’re doing it right.”

For more information about Vargas, visit his website at varjazz.com.

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