Singer misses sleep for cause

He’s so tired, he almost didn’t trust himself to drive to the interview lest he fall asleep at the wheel.

Singer-songwriter Jefferson Montoya, eyelids heavy enough to have been cast of concrete, has just rehearsed for 27 hours straight.

Sitting in the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on a recent Tuesday morning, he looks like he could definitely use a cup of joe — or perhaps an IV drip of the stuff.

Still, Montoya’s having none of it.

“Coffee’s an astringent,” he notes. “It dries your throat out.”

Montoya needs all the vocal power he can muster right about now.

Beginning at 12 a.m. this morning (overnight Wednesday), Montoya was expected to attempt to break the Guinness World Records mark for longest continual concert by a solo artist, which currently stands at 40 hours and 40 minutes, vying to play for a minimum of 44 hours at Tommy Rocker’s.

He’ll play 230 different songs in the first 24 hours, which would set a new record — the existing mark is 139 tunes — most of them being cover songs by artists ranging from the Beatles to the Black Eyed Peas as well as some originals from his two CDs (he has a third record due out later this month).

He’s doing it to raise money for the Red Cross in the wake of the recent catastrophic weather in the South and Midwest, seeking pledges for every hour he plays (contributions can be made at jeffersonmontoya.com).

To break the record, there has to be a minimum of 10 people at his performance at all times, and if anybody falls asleep, it’s over.

Montoya can’t play a song twice within four hours or take more than 30 seconds between tunes. He gets a 15-minute break every three hours and that’s it.

To prepare for staying alert for so long, Montoya’s been following a sleep deprivation program that U.S. Special Forces soldiers use in advance of missions where they know they’ll have to stay awake for days at a time.

Montoya, a Utah native who moved to Vegas a decade ago to work as a graphic designer and on the Web, got the idea for the record attempt last fall after he was booked to perform on a cruise ship but the gig fell through.

“I was like, ‘I need to do something,’ ” he says. “What can I do? Well, I sing and I play and I rarely sleep. So I looked up the official record, just last November, and it was 26 hours. I was like, ‘I could chop a hand off and do that.’ But by the time I had gotten a go on it, Guinness had already approved a 40 hour record. I was like, ‘Well, that’s kind of extreme.’ ”

That’s an understatement, but hey, if he’s going to be missing out on serious sleep until Friday night, Montoya’s hoping that his loss is a good cause’s gain.

“People could be raising this money when they’re at home, comfortably in their beds, knowing that somewhere, some fool is being tortured by his idea,” Montoya chuckles, “unable to get off the stage.”

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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