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April 20, 2014

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MUSIC:

A sound that’s recession-proof, or perhaps made for it

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Steve Marcus

Andre King sings from the dance floor last month at Jerry’s Nugget with the band he founded in 1999, Sho Tyme. Motown Fridays at the North Las Vegas casino have become a popular feature.

If You Go

What: Motown Fridays

When: 10 p.m. Fridays

Where: Jerry’s Nugget, 1821 N. Las Vegas Blvd., North Las Vegas,

January schedule:

  • Huck Daniels, Friday and Jan. 16
  • Sho Tyme, Jan. 23 and 30

Admission: $5; 399-3000

Sun Blogs

Don’t tell the crowd filling the dance floor at Jerry’s Nugget there’s a recession. These folks in North Las Vegas are partying like it’s 1999 — when times were good, the economy was on a roll and the future looked bright.

It’s Motown Friday and the 100 or so fans in the lounge have forked over a $5 cover charge to listen to Sho Tyme, one of the bands that rotates engagements at the venue. The show proves you don’t have to drop hundreds or thousands of dollars at an ultralounge to have a good time.

Booking agent Paul Sanders came up with Motown Friday concept about five years ago.

“Jerry’s Nugget called to hire one of my bands for a Christmas party and I told them I saw a group there a few months earlier, but nobody was there,” Sanders says. “They told me there was no hotel in the area, no tourists and that it was hard to get people to come in. They had closed down the lounge, which actually has nightclub feel to it.”

Sanders talked them into letting him take over the lounge on Friday nights and it’s been hopping ever since.

Even with the recession, the club is usually full of people eager to dance.

“Vegas casinos are used to such big numbers that when the numbers fall off they panic,” says Andre King, the lead singer who founded Sho Tyme in 1999. “Right away they want to do something to make the numbers come back up, but it’s just a sign of the times. The numbers will come back up on their own. People are still out enjoying the music, they’re still showing up, still coming out to have a good time and still spending money — it’s just not the big numbers the casinos are used to.

“The economy has affected all of us, in every walk of life. It’s going to get worse before it gets better, but it will get better.”

Meanwhile, King and Sho Tyme are helping fans forget their troubles for a few hours as they belt out cover tune after cover tune, like the R&B hits “My Girl” and “Groovin.”

With all of the Motown shows in Vegas and new shows proposed, one might think there is a resurgence in interest in Motown.

King sees it another way.

“The Motown era was one of the most noticeable changes in the history of music,” he says. “Motown started a trend that has lasted over the years. ‘My Girl,’ ‘Superstition,’ they never die. Younger kids learn to like the music because of their parents. Rap artists even started by using these songs. There will always be a market for Motown. There will always be someone who wants to hear ‘My Girl.’

“This is not a resurgence in interest; it’s just always been.”

The music has kept King, who’s 60, young.

“I started dancing professionally when I was

4 years old,” says King, who grew up in his mother’s restaurant and club in Birmingham, Ala. “I’d be at the jukebox in the restaurant dancing. One day this guy saw me and put me in a few shows. That started me off.”

He performed with Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and other groups during a dancing career that ended when he was 25.

“I blew my knees out,” King says. “I did a lot of acrobatics. One night I jumped off the stage, somersaulted over four people and did a split and landed wrong. It messed me up.”

So, he became a singer at age 28, auditioning for and landing a spot in the Drifters. He performed with the group for 13 years. “That’s when I really learned how to sing. I was the youngest guy in the group and they took me under their wings. They let me fall, they let me stumble but they let me learn.”

He says Bill Pinkney of the Drifters taught him about the business.

“He taught me so much, not only about performing but about the business end and how to deal with people,” King says. “Musicians and other artists are different types of people. To be successful you have to have a little ego. Being able to take all those egos and bring them together and make an effective unit is an art in itself.

“One time I told Bill I wasn’t satisfied with the way he was running his organization and he told me, ‘I’ve been running my organization for 40 years. You work for me. If you don’t understand or appreciate what I’m doing, then get your own organization.’ That was the best advice anyone ever gave me.”

King left the Drifters to join the Imperials. “We used to play the Four Queens on Fremont Street all the time.”

After three years with the Imperials he got married, quit the group and left Vegas for a couple of years. Then he got a call from a friend asking him to join a group called Vintage that had a gig at the Carnival Court, the outdoor lounge at Harrah’s.

A few months later, he created Sho Tyme, a high-energy cover band. The group played at Carnival Court for four years and at the Venetian for another four years.

In its heyday the group was busy 46 weeks a year. Now it has cut back to 36, performing in casinos and clubs in and out of Las Vegas.

“Members of the group have changed over the years but I maintain a certain high level of quality,” King says.

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