ANNA MARIA ISLAND – Ted Stevens and the Doo-Shots’ next gig will be in Las Vegas at the 21st annual Viva Las Vegas rockabilly weekend.
On Saturday, April 21, the well-known local band will play a 45-minute set at the Bailiwick Pub, inside The Orleans hotel and casino. The Orleans serves as ground zero for the four-day festival that features more than 100 bands from around the world playing on multiple indoor and outdoor stages. Making their first U.S. appearance in nearly a decade, The Stray Cats are headlining this year’s festival, preceded Saturday evening on the big outdoor stage by 82-year-old rock and roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis.
Viva Las Vegas features one of America’s biggest car shows, a bowling party, a guitar show, dance lessons, a pin-up girl competition and a tattoo lounge. And weddings can be arranged for those who want to tie the knot rockabilly-style.
Back to Vegas
The Vegas gig brings lead singer, guitarist and bandleader Ted Stevens back to a city he knows well.
“I haven’t been to Vegas since I moved here almost 10 years ago. It’s a great city and a great place to be a musician. I was musical director for the Drifters, the Platters and the Coasters at the Sahara for almost seven years. The Sahara has been torn down since then and the city is constantly reinventing itself. It will be cool to see it again,” Stevens said.
“Playing Viva is a nice reward for the band. We got there with our songs and our live show. We have four CDs out and it’s nice that our original music helped get us there,” Stevens said.
Stevens’ debuted a new original song, “Back to Vegas,” Friday night at the Swordfish Grill in Cortez, and his song, “Baby I’m Yours,” is track #21 on the Viva Las Vegas 21-compilation CD.
“We have a lot of people flying to Vegas from Florida and other parts of the country just to see us. That’s pretty amazing – even more amazing than getting on the bill. Our friend Sven Frackelton first told me about Viva and this is our fourth attempt to get in. I wasn’t even going to try this year but our friend Heather Green sent me a Facebook post saying Viva was looking for submissions,” Stevens said.
“We have a dedicated band and the Doo-Shots give it everything they’ve got at every gig. We have a great niche working here in Florida, where people love rockabilly music. People say they’re amazed at how much fun we have when we perform but it’s a two-way street because we’re only as good as the audience we play to,” Stevens said.
Bass player and backing vocalist ‘Upright Butch’ Alan is making his first trip to Vegas.
“I’ve been wanting to go see Las Vegas and I’m really looking forward to playing Ted’s original music in front of a crowd that’s hungry for rockabilly music. We can play loud and fast, with all the intensity this music demands; and it will be nice to see bands from around the globe putting their spin on American music born in the 1950s,” he said.
As the band’s drummer, and the author of this story, the Vegas gig for me will be a fantastic musical adventure that provides an opportunity to explore a city I’ve wanted to see since I read Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” many years ago.
The band’s first post-Vegas gig will be at the Leesburg Bikefest on Sunday, April 29. On Saturday, May 5, the band will play the Rockabilly Ruckus at Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa. The band’s next Island gig will be at the Drift In on Friday, May 11.
Known originally as the Ted Stevens Band, with Charles “The Big Kahuna” Nardone on bass, the band’s first Bradenton Beach gig was in early 2011 at the old Back Alley, now the Blue Marlin Grill. The band’s been playing at Island Time and the Swordfish Grill since those venues opened. Stevens also performs as a solo act at the Swordfish Grill and he and Alan now perform as a duo at the Bridge Tender Inn.