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Local music news & notes: Milo’s Cellar, big band jazz and more

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Local singer/songwriter Chris Leland performs at Milo’s Cellar in Boulder City.
Photo: Mona Shield Payne

HIDDEN GEM

Six years after Matteo’s Underground Lounge closed its doors, music has gone below ground once again in Boulder City. For the past few months Milo’s Cellar, a mainstay along the downtown drag, has been quietly hosting some of Southern Nevada’s main musical minds in its downstairs wine cellar.

Conceived by owner Milo Hurst and actualized by Same Sex Mary frontman James Adams, the free Thursday-night Songwriters in the Cellar series has featured The Clydesdale’s Paige Overton, Rusty Maples’ Mike Weller, Dusty Sunshine’s Heidi Guinn, and, most recently, Dreaming of Lions’ Chris Leland, among others. Standing at one end of a cozy but inviting space that Boulder City-based musician Jack Evan Johnson calls “the world’s smallest concert hall,” participants play an hour of original material for folks at tables between the bottles and crates. “It’s like storytelling, but with music,” Adams says.

As host of each week’s installment, Adams also warms up the crowd. At last week’s edition, he played songs from Same Sex Mary’s album Sex Cells, just-released three-song EP XXX and material the band plans to record soon. Then Leland stepped forward, entrancing a small gathering with his intimate tales and haunting vocals. “That one has four different verses, and they’re all about different girlfriends,” he explained after one song. “This one will go well with a Cabernet,” he joked before another.

Songwriters in the Cellar continues June 26, with Johnson scheduled to return to its mic. –Spencer Patterson

JAZZY NEW DIGS

After hosting jazz for more than five years, Henderson’s E-String Grill is pulling the plug. But producer Marsha Ross has found a new home for her Big Band Series, which will relocate to the new Viva Las Vegas Event Center (1201 Las Vegas Blvd. S.) starting July 5. “I don’t know if it was the location or if it’s just the Las Vegas Valley in general,” Ross says. “In San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, New York, jazz is always supported. But here in Las Vegas, it’s just not supported the way it should be.”

Ross says she’s looking at the move to a larger venue as a positive change. E-String held 150 people, but the Event Center can accommodate 300. The new location will continue with the series’ usual programming, including weekly Saturday afternoon shows for $12, and will launch a new buffet show for $22. –Leslie Ventura

LIVE AT THE LOUNGE

The Palazzo’s newly renovated Lavo Lounge is trying something different—booking local musicians. Marketing manager/music booker Jillian Austin says the lounge has hosted a few shows since April but now has an entire month’s worth of local musicians lined up. “We’re looking for locals who have a unique sound, something you can’t see everywhere else,” she says.

Boulder City’s Jack Evan Johnson performed at Lavo Lounge on June 18 and says he’s happy to see Strip spots like Lavo and Brooklyn Bowl embracing local music. “There haven’t been many opportunities for people to play original music on the Strip and be compensated well for it, which is really important,” Johnson says. “There’s definitely more of an embrace of the live music thing in this town—especially original music—which I don’t think there’s ever been.”

Singer and guitarist Jessica Manalo performs at Lavo July 1, followed by Jeremy Cornwell on July 9. –LV

KICKING IT UP

Local musicians Sonia Seelinger, Ben Klink and Aisling Gammill have launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for a split CD titled Shut the Hell Up. The songwriters met at open-mic night Vegas on the Mic, hosted at Money Plays by producer Mike Ziethlow. The trio needs to raise $3,000—the cost of mastering and pressing the 15-song album—by July 20 for the project to be funded. “I have high hopes,” Seelinger says. It’s really optimistic, but we have a great support system.” If the project gets funded, the group will hold a Shut the Hell Up release party in late August. –LV

FUNKY FRESH

Funk/soul duo Maxwell Fresh will release LP Vinyl Strings at the Gibson Acoustic Asylum Showcase inside the Hard Rock Cafe (Paradise) on June 30. DJ Jared “Jay Mac” McPherson and guitarist Barney Suguitan recorded the album at McPherson’s home; it features elements of blues, funk and jazz. “I just kind of marry it all together somehow,” Suguitan says. “The generic description of us is a DJ and a guitar player, but when you come out and see us live, you hear a wall of sound. We have fun and our true colors show in the music.” –LV

ALSO

GC Records is taking preorders for Snapshot of the 2014 Las Vegas Music Scene—a compilation featuring 18 tracks by the likes of Mercy Music, Rusty Maples, Illicitor and The Quitters. The 180-gram vinyl is up for $10 at gcrecords.storenvy.com. … Another local comp, Brain Jelly Music’s Spread the Jelly Vol. 1, is available as a name-your-price download at brainjelly.bandcamp.com. Among the 18 contributing artists: Beta Bomb, Wax Pig Melting and The Astaires. … The Bunkhouse is looking for bartenders, servers, cooks, dishwashers, porters and security staff. Interested candidates should visit the Gold Spike, ask for a supervisor and fill out a Bunkhouse application.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is Las Vegas Weekly's Managing Editor, having previously served as Arts & Entertainment Editor, Music Editor and a ...

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Photo of Leslie Ventura

Local and independent music lover Leslie Ventura found her passion for journalism as a UNLV undergrad, contributing to Las Vegas ...

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