Downtown sound

Excuse me, dear readers, while I take moment to kiss the dirty streets of my neighborhood, downtown Las Vegas. Had a great weekend, starting with a short walk to buy milk at Resnicks (900 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Suite 120), a new bodega-style grocery nook under Soho Lofts. I walked in, basking in the psyche-rock fury of The Flaming Lips, which was playing on the upscale sound system, a moment I never thought I’d experience on Las Vegas Boulevard.

That afternoon I took a five-minute saunter to The Beat Coffeehouse (520 E. Fremont St.) to play pretend-DJ with the café’s eclectic vinyl record stash, spinning Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s Zuma. My day was capped off by a hard-core drinking session at Downtown Vintage Guitars (1106 S. Third St.), where the ax-dealer-cum-bar is doing free live music on weekends along with Monday-night blues jams. The performances were excellent, comprising a set by Red State Soundsystem’s Josh Ellis joined by Aaron Archer who deliver a gnarly Tom Waits-meets-John Lee Hooker version of Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up.” (Ellis’ RSS album, Ghosts in a Burning City, was released last year.) Then Archer’s new alt-country band, The Seams, did a set of damn-good, rockin’ originals.

Got bummed talking to Neon Reverb host Donald Hickey, though, who says that the best alt/indie music program in Vegas (maybe the only real one) has been cut from two hours down to a measly 60 minutes. He says the show’s donor numbers were simply not there, which is a shame. Of course, I can’t imagine any show on KUNV 91.5 FM attracting donors, and the station has a history of conflict with alternative programming, so I’m not surprised. I confessed to Hickey that it’s hard for me to tune in Saturday nights since I’m out covering the scene. He says they’re considering “a number of options” to do justice to Neon Reverb.

Last time I saw Jesse John Fitts was at Komol, a Thai restaurant in Commercial Center (not technically downtown but still a seven-minute walk from my house) last summer. Fitts was drummer for the now-defunct Curl Up and Die, one of the earliest, most influential and important metalcore bands of all time, and from Vegas. But now he’s a—get this—folk singer in Westhampton, Mass. His debut album, One Foot on the Platform, is out now and can be downloaded for free at His music sounds like Bob Dylan backed by Buddy Rich. Yep, it’s intriguing.

Anyhow, I love downtown, its music and people. So when can I expect to see you?

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