Las Vegas Sun

July 28, 2014

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MUSIC:

Boulder blues back to cheer you

Displaced series returns to off-Strip home

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MARK DAMON / SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Slide guitarist Roy Rogers performs as part of the long-running free blues concert series in Boulder Station’s Railhead Lounge last year.

Coming attractions

Eric Sardinas and Anthony Gomes — Boulder Station, tonight; Texas Station, Friday (Sardinas only)

Chris Duarte — Texas, Nov. 28

Rick Estrin — Boulder, Dec. 4; Texas, Dec. 5

Coco Montoya — Boulder, Dec. 11

Mike Zito — Texas, Dec. 12

Rod Piazza — Boulder, Dec. 18; Texas, Dec. 19

Corey Stevens — Texas, Dec. 26

Harmonica Red — Boulder, Jan. 1; Texas, Jan. 1

Eric Sardinas — Boulder, Jan. 8; Texas, Jan. 9

John Lee Hooker Jr. — Boulder, Jan. 15; Texas, Jan. 16

Walter Trout — Boulder, Jan. 22; Texas, Jan. 23

Rod Piazza — Boulder, Jan. 29; Texas, Jan. 30

There’s no place like home.

The free Boulder Blues Series returns tonight to the Railhead Lounge at Boulder Station.

Boulder Station had been home to the popular blues series since it began, in 1996. Each week the series featured nationally recognized blues performers such as Walter Trout, Coco Montoya, Guitar Shorty, Ronnie Brooks and Roy Rogers.

In late June all of Boulder’s concerts were farmed out to other Station properties because the Feast Buffet took over the Railhead while the restaurant underwent renovations.

For four months the blues shows took up temporary residence at the Green Valley Ranch resort. Artists such as Tab Benoit, Tinsley Ellis, Teresa James and Chris Cain played at Green Valley’s Ovation Lounge. Other concerts were moved to other Station casinos.

“Logistically, it seemed a bit daunting at first,” said Judy Alberti, vice president of entertainment.

Alberti had just returned to her position with Station Casinos after being away for two years when the change was made.

“It was my first week back and they said, ‘OK, we’re going to move all the acts out of Railhead,’ ” she said. “But it was not as daunting as it seemed like it would be at first. Other properties were happy to get the acts, and a couple of properties were even fighting over getting the series, in a nice way.

“It took some juggling. It was not a fun process.”

Fans didn’t seem to have any trouble tracking down their favorite performers.

“I think it was as smooth a transition as we could hope for,” Alberti said. “Hopefully it will be the same going back in the other direction.”

For the homecoming celebration the venue will try something different — two acts. Canadian guitarist Anthony Gomes will open for Florida guitarist Eric Sardinas.

Fans will be happy to learn the series has expanded to include a free Friday night blues show at Texas Station, with blues artists playing a second engagement at the property when scheduling permits.

The Texas blues night began earlier this month with shows by Cain and by Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers.

The blues series takes a break at Boulder Station on Thanksgiving and Christmas — but the show goes on that week at Texas Station.

Alberti said the roster of performers will basically be the same. By adding a second night, she said, performers on the East Coast will be more interested in playing here.

“Some of the acts on the East Coast could no longer afford to travel out here just to do a one-nighter,” she said. “We can get a few more favorites by assuring them two nights.”

Last year Station Casinos attempted to add a second blues night with a Wednesday show at Santa Fe Station. But the crowds were always smaller at Santa Fe’s Chrome lounge, and the weekly event was canceled in January.

“Wednesday night just was not the right night for a blues series,” she said.

Alberti said Station is happy to provide free entertainment.

“We want the volume, and the Boulder Blues brings in 400 fans most nights,” she said. “It’s the right demographics and we provide quality entertainment. It works for us.”

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