From Phantom to Band Frontwoman

Kristen Hertzenberg

Kristen Hertzenberg

I’m a sucker for a solid torch singer with eclectic taste, and Kristen Hertzenberg fits the bill. The former Phantom–The Las Vegas Spectacular lead and her band make their big-hall debut with a show at upscale Cabaret Jazz at 7 p.m. February 1. So how did a classically trained vocalist end up singing blues and rock in, of all places, The Smith Center?

When Phantom at the Venetian closed in 2012, Hertzenberg and husband Dana Satterwhite (who runs TastySpace gallery in Emergency Arts) were ready to put down roots in Las Vegas. Their decision to live Downtown had a lot to do with its art scene, live music and cultural energy.

“Wandering into The Beat [coffeehouse] helped to change our point of view,” says Hertzenberg, a Downtown resident. “We can connect to this town’s creative pulse.”

So she formed a band, borrowing musicians from Harrah’s Million Dollar Quartet. She performs her favorites, her band focusing on creating its own sound, something new for her.

“We play a lot of songs people won’t know, which is selfish. A musical director will say, ‘Three for the audience, one for you.’ I did 18 for me.”

One of those is blues chanteuse Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Me Like a Man.”

“I wanted to throw some stank on it,” Hertzenberg says. “To get dirty with the blues.”

This certainly won’t be your typical Cabaret Jazz offering.

Other shows this week worth seeing all take place on January 31.

First, retro-grunge/alt-pop band Waiting for Zombies, who sound to my ears like a heavier Cranberries, play Eagle Aerie Hall (310 W. Pacific Ave. in Henderson) at 5 p.m. I’m really digging their track “Soul Inflation,” with its martial-taps drumming and Nirvana-like chord changes. Also on the bill: Substance, Since Exile, As Big As Whales, Insomnia Effect and Full Fledged.

If you prefer reggae, there are competing Downtown shows that very same evening. For a taste of the progressive, musically adventurous end of the reggae spectrum, Savannah, Georgia, combo Passafire ignite Fremont Country Club at 7 p.m. with hard-jammin’, bass guitar-heavy, super-psychedelic cuts such as the blissed-out “Submersible.” Imagine, if it’s possible, a smarter Sublime with better, thought-enlightening drugs and you get the basic idea. Also on the bill: Ballyhoo!, Pacific Dub, One Pin Short and Good Greens. For melodic, winding-it-down grooves, you may want to check out L.A. sextet Fortunate Youth, who play LVCS at 9 p.m. Their tune “Bastard” is totally chill, and they have an arsenal of burn-it-right-down-to-the roach songs. Also on the bill: Hirie, Four Twenty Daze and Days After Hail.

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