Cameron Calloway United the Neighborhood in the Name of Music

Vinyl at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, May 19

Photo by Camille Cannon.

“Which concert are you here for?” Hard Rock Hotel & Casino ushers asked fans in line at the Vinyl box office. Three were happening on the property this night. One couple said “Journey,” who was playing The Joint. A few said “Kongos at the Pool.” The rest lined up eagerly to see Las Vegas’ own Kiara Brown, Brittany Rose, The Lique and headliner Cameron Calloway, whose performance celebrated the release of his debut EP, My Neighborhood.

Attendees included junior high students, whose eyes widened in awe at The Lique’s Rasar Amani’s quick rhyming abilities. There were teenage contemporaries of the talented 19-year-old Kiara Brown. Twenty and 30-somethings who whipped their phones out to record Brittany Rose’s chilling rendition of Childish Gambino’s “Redbone.” And parents who swayed hand in hand to Calloway’s feel-good cover of The O’Jay’s “I Love Music.”

“I’m here to remind you to love yourself,” sang the man of the hour on his opening number, during which he started a Soul Train dance line in the audience. It was a fitting start for the singer-songwriter who channeled the smooth, emotionally rich sounds of his ’70s-era inspirations. He played homage to Prince and others, but shone most brightly on his originals. He held high notes for so long you wish you’d taken out a stopwatch. His facial expressions (that wide, infectious smile, curled, anguished lips or closed eyes with one shaking palm raised to the ceiling) completed the stories he told with his lyrics and music. “April 23rd” was about a “spiritual awakening” during which Calloway—who quit his day job two years ago, gained popularity playing open mics and will play his biggest stage yet at Life Is Beautiful festival this September—says “Mother Nature told me everything was going to be ok.” Surrounded by neighbors, Calloway proved her right.