Looking homeward: Is leaving Vegas to be a musician elsewhere all it’s cracked up to be?
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I have been here in Nashville for nine years now, and I have found it to be not so much easier to forward my career, but a lot more opportunity and more work. Nashville being an “industry” town makes it a better place to work and work from because of the business aspect. I have a great manager and booking agent here, and that makes it easier for touring and just more work that I could not do in Las Vegas.
I picked Nashville because I got a publishing deal in the early ’90s, and they have an office here, so I was coming out here a couple of times a year anyway. I knew some people, so I thought it was a good place to be. Also, Nashville has such a great rock scene. It is known for being a country town but in past four or five years it has really become “the” place for rock bands.
San Antonio isn’t widely known as a great music city, and I never expected it to be. But the Vegas scene is stagnant. The level of excitement in the scene waxes and wanes, growing whenever a good band surfaces, but then quickly ebbing when that band moves, which inevitably happens, because most bands with potential don’t stay in Vegas long. It doesn’t leave one with much to miss. I like Vegas for other reasons, but certainly not because it’s a promising place for musicians — unless the thought of ending up in a hack cover band working gigs on The Strip sounds promising to you. I would choose San Antonio any day over Vegas. There is more of a sense of community here among people involved in the scene; in other words, people tend to give a shit about what’s going on, making it easier for local bands to attract a crowd.
Making music out in SF is really no different than in Vegas. No matter where you are, you really just have to work hard and put yourself out there. And I haven’t been nearly as aggressive out here as I was in Vegas. As far as SF is concerned, it is everything I hoped it would be and more. The acceptance and push for art and music is limitless. Everyone out there is really open to new ideas, which makes it a comfortable creative environment.
With Vegas I definitely miss playing Afghan Raiders shows. Some of the best times I had in Vegas. Luckily it’s only an hour flight away.
The Mad Caps
It feels as though it’s less of an event in the city when there’s a local show happening, because there’s always a local show happening, and there’s a lot of music/venues out there for people to choose from. That is a huge difference alone from what you find in Las Vegas. The community of Vegas seemed to be much more tight-knit around its events, because there were so few happening, and not enough new music to spread around. Which is a great thing to build a fan base and meet rad people.
The biggest thing I miss from our hometown: No one in Seattle dances! Vegas is shameless when it comes to getting down!
I tried to hide from music when I moved to Provo so I could study more. But it was inevitable, and I got involved in some bands as word got out that I was a decent bass player. It took some work in a new town for people to realize that I had a little history in music. I fostered some great friendships by playing music while growing up in LV. I have remained friends with most of those guys, and wouldn’t trade those days for anything. So I miss that history, but it’s something I’m proud to have under my belt. Growing up in LV, we worked hard to have rad shows, either in the desert or by renting the Elks Lodge. I brought that work ethic to Utah, and I bring it out on the road with Neon Trees. But it was born in Las Vegas.
Benway Bop Records
Moving here has worked out very well for me. I was never a musician when I was in Vegas. I played music my whole life, but my time in Vegas was spent mainly as a record salesman. I only started playing music professionally in 2007. I can say that being a musician in Seattle and being one in York is quite different. In Seattle it’s so oversaturated that it’s hard to find anyone who’s not a musician. In York there’s fans. People who want to watch. It’s easier to be a big fish in a small pond.
Goldfish Don’t Bounce
I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be cracked up to be. I didn’t have a dream of going to L.A. and making it “big.” I just followed my heart. There’s no doubt in my mind that it was the right choice for me, but it was difficult. Although people here made me feel welcome, I still felt like an outsider for the first few years.
The thing about Nashville is everyone and their memaw is in the industry, and venues are bombarded. With that said, the shows that I have been lucky to play have had outstanding feedback. People here just love music. They are here to really listen.
I feel like I’m a dime a dozen out here; lots of talent in this city.
I did not come out here for music. I came out here, ironically, because of the poker. I still write songs for Romance Fantasy. But lately, I’ve been trying to write a musical using many of my original songs along with a screenplay. I’m a bit out of my depth, but I always have been attracted to Hollywood and the movies.
I did not leave the Vegas music scene because I thought it lacked anything. I was just very curious to see how my music played in front of a new audience. I didn’t feel like I could gauge very much playing in front of my hometown. That thinking could be wrong.