Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010 | 11:26 a.m.
"It's too early to play 'Sweet Child of Mine'," says Acoustic Soul frontman Hal Savar, but they're going to do it anyway.
At a little before nine o'clock, it's only an hour into tonight's four-hour gig — that's a little too early to break out the big Guns — but as the self-proclaimed "only live jukebox" in Vegas, Acoustic Soul don't really have much of a choice.
It's Wednesday night and the cover band is inside Roadrunners at Eastern Avenue and Pebble Road, where pushing aside two pool tables has created a makeshift stage just underneath a mounted bull head on the wall. They'll be here every Wednesday for at least the next three months as a part of a new residency, which also includes gigs every Tuesday at the Roadrunners at Flamingo Road and the 215.
"We have a real opportunity here to build a local following," Savar says, adding that locals wishing to avoid the Strip at all costs long have nagged the band to play a neighborhood bar. Tonight's Henderson debut sees about 60 people filter through the doors during the four-hour stint, while last night's southwest premiere saw at least twice that number.
Savar, as well as the Roadrunners' PR rep, hopes those numbers will rise. Like almost everywhere, the slumping economy has affected business here. Workers from nearby car dealerships were once a large slice of this Henderson location's demographic; in the southwest, the same was true of construction workers.
Now it's up to Roadrunners to find a way to entice cautious locals from their underwater homes. They've created Saturday Night Jams featuring live DJs and prize giveaways at all three locations, Round 'Em Up Karaoke on Thursdays in Henderson and a magician/bartender who rotates between all three locations. Mixed between this, Acoustic Soul is another siren call to locals, and their frontman is up to the challenge.
On stage, they're pumping out tunes for tips and their "menu" of 200-plus songs boasts a variety of styles, made possible by the band's multitalented musicians. Nina DiGregorio sings, plays bass and violin, often using the latter to replace guitar solos. Dave King also sings and plays keys and electric guitar. Rounding out the group is drummer Lanise Hughes, who recorded with Rick James on that karaoke favorite "Super Freak." If you want Warren G's "Regulators" right after Britney Spears and before "Hotel California," Acoustic Soul is happy to oblige.
"We're the cure to the recession," Savar jokes. "A lot of venues can't afford entertainment and some 12-piece band. With us, we're a four-piece doing music of 12-piece arrangements. That's a good situation."
Tonight, one of the owners of a gay bar is checking Acoustic Soul out for a possible residency there. Maybe they're onto something.
— Originally published on LasVegasWeekly.com