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April 16, 2014

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After memorable meeting with Michael Nesmith, Lon Bronson is daydream believin’ about new gig

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The Lon Bronson All-Star Band performs at Ovation at Green Valley Ranch.

Daydream Believer with Tony Davich and Lon Bronson All-Star Band

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Lon Bronson performs at Ovation at Green Valley Ranch.

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The Lon Bronson All-Star Band performs during the "Our Town for Newtown" benefit concert held Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 at Railhead at Boulder Station.

The Monkees at Green Valley Ranch

Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork of The Monkees at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson on Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Every so often, deep into the setlist of shows by his All-Star Band, Lon Bronson calls on ever-rocking vocalist Tony Davich to sing a Monkees song.

Bronson usually introduces the song by asking, “What is the greatest band ever?”

Nobody guesses the Monkees. But if you have never heard Davich deliver “Daydream Believer,” you really haven’t lived.

Bronson’s affection for the Monkees is no joke. He really is a fan, especially of guitarist and video pioneer Michael Nesmith. Bronson had planned to see Saturday’s performance by the Monkees at Green Valley Ranch’s Grand Events Center, a rare show because Nesmith had consented to perform onstage with the band. He has long resisted these reunion shows. Bronson was eager to see all three surviving Monkees.

What’s great about Bronson, aside from his great prowess on the trumpet and whatever comes out of his mouth when he’s talking into a live mic after three glasses of wine, is how well-connected he is in the entertainment industry. Not surprisingly, Nesmith and he have a common friend: Penn Jillette.

“So, on Saturday, I tell Penn that I’m going to see the Monkees at GVR,” Bronson said during a phone conversation this week. “He says, ‘Oh, I think we’re having lunch Saturday. Have fun at the show.’ Real nonchalant, you know? ‘Yeah, I think me and Mike Nesmith are having lunch today.’ That’s classic Penn.”

Jillette and Nesmith did have lunch together, and during that conversation, Jillette told Nesmith all about Bronson and his crackling all-star band. “He says a bunch of stuff about me, how I’ve played with everyone, and I get this e-mail from Penn saying, ‘You can hang with him after the show,’ meaning I could meet him on his tour bus. He never lets people back on the bus and doesn’t do the meet-and-greet. Micky (Dolenz) and Peter (Tork) are out there signing autographs and meeting everyone, but not Nesmith.”

Bronson has long appreciated Nesmith’s musicianship and also his video pioneer work more than 30 years ago with the TV show “Elephant Parts” and the development of the classic cult film “Repo Man,” among many trendsetting projects. Bronson said the Monkees’ performance was “killer, in large part because of Nesmith, with all the great things they did with using the great, old video and matching it with the live performance.”

When Bronson arrived backstage, Nesmith told him, “We’re so glad you could come tonight. We were so nervous about you being in the audience.”

Bronson was stunned, but the hype machine also was fueled by praise from a waiter Nesmith had spoken with over at Green Valley Ranch.

“I was blown away,” Bronson said. “This waiter had known about the band. That, coupled with Penn’s words about me, allowed me to meet Mike Nesmith.”

The two spoke for 45 minutes.

“We just hung out talking about music,” Bronson said. “It was pretty unbelievable. This guy is like John Lennon to me. He’s so huge to me in the history of pop music.”

Bronson’s return to GVR unfolded during a critical moment for his band, which is leaving Railhead at Boulder Station after its performance Aug. 30. Stepping back into the Friday night slot is classic-rock band Yellow Brick Road, which began its run of popular live performances at Boulder in 1997. YBR is moving from the South Point to Railhead on Sept. 13.

In this shuffle of the deck, Bronson’s All-Star Band is again looking for a room or a new gig in an existing room. The “show band” with its roaring horn section directed by Bronson and a long list of star guest singers (including repeat visitors Jillette and Drew Carey) was dismissed from GVR last fall when Ovation was closed in favor of the the GVR BingoPlex, or whatever it’s called.

“We’d love to be at Red Rock once a month, maybe taking a Thursday night at Boulder, alternating with the Boulder Blues Series,” Bronson said. “We’ve got feelers out.” The Blues Series, once a free weekly show at Railhead, has now been scaled back to once a month.

The Stratosphere and Smith Center for the Performing Arts are possibilities for Bronson, but those are just ideas tucked in casual conversation. No worries, though. Bronson will lock in a regular schedule soon enough. He’s a daydream believer, and ain’t nothing wrong with that.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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