Singing in Las Vegas and L A

Free Circus at Teenbeat club

Free Circus at Teenbeat club

Our family move to Las Vegas, was traumatic for my sister and I. Being raised in Los Angeles, you get used to a certain culture, access to the beach, and the mountains. We lived in North Hollywood, then Northridge, Sherman Oaks, and Van Nuys.. I went to Van Nuys Jr. Hi.  This was a real blow,, I was only 3, when we left New York for L A, so  this was HUGE.  My sister and I were never closer and we clung to each other for survival. I was lost when she went off to live in San Fransisco for the rest of her teen years with my aunt and uncle.

Not long after the move to Vegas, I found that my record was a little popular there, and Dennis Hunt on KENO Radio had given it a lot of play.  I went to Odyssey Records and even found my record in the sale bin!!!!! Talk about a blow to your ego!

I found out, I was to open for Johnny Crawford of the TV show The Rifleman at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Odyssey Records

Odyssey Records

His hit song ‘Today is Cindy’s Birthday’ was huge at the time  and this was the biggest venue in Las Vegas, where The Beatles played.  I was to lip-sync my 4 songs, because the last two were not really mixed, and completed  when I was dropped from the label. I still have the demos,  the vinyl, but they didn’t make it to the radio.

I was so nervous!  All these young girls screaming Johnny… Johnny… and I come out!  They were polite enough, but bored stiff until my set was over. Whew, my first big concert. Alone! Over with! I think if my opening song hadn’t been ‘Johnny Let Me Go’ they would have killed me!

I was  at Valley High , here in Las Vegas. High school started  at 9th grade, for four years. in Los Angeles it was 3 years. So here I was in high school, after a half semester at Roy Martin Middle school.

The bands were all male dominated. NO chick singers. A band, ‘The Little People‘ asked me to join them.  YES, after doing that concert alone, being IN a band was a great thrill for me.  This was when I honed my performing skills, and we worked every weekend.  We even did the  Jerry Lewis Telethon, during MORNING PRIME TIME!!!! After a  few personality issues, we morphed into another band, ‘London Fog’, adding on more talent.

teenbeat-clubThat band was an improvement; we were getting older, and working better places, The Teenbeat Club and many frat parties. We even played the only casino in Searchlight, Nevada, a mining town, about an hour outside Las Vegas.

Then the best thing happened to me. A college band called ‘Free Circus’ asked me to come aboard. Wow, I was so excited to do originals, and songs by Traffic, Yes, and Jefferson Airplane. The band had great musicians,, and two singers in addition to me.

Roby Bennet wrote a lot of great songs and Danny Barnett was on B3 organ, a rare sound for local Vegas bands. We were so good, concert promoters hired us to be opening act for Santana, Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly, Electric Prunes, Sweetwater, and others, I can’t even recall!

We were stars now, when we would load in, kids would crowd around to watch us, just to be around us because we were going to be close to these headline bands backstage; acts they all loved, and admired. This was a great time in my life.

So, after we were really on a roll, and I was in my senior year, The Viet Nam war was calling our pianist! Yes , Danny had to go, and we just could not replace him. He played B3 for goodness sakes, and that was our sound! When Danny left, I knew my next move had to be for ME, for my career.

Program cover: Los Angeles Hair

Program cover: Los Angeles Hair

So, I went to Los Angeles with an agent that my sister had met at the Stardust Hotel. He was quite well known, Bill Loeb agency, and you would think someone that big would behave themselves?  After he read my bio, he just took a shot and took me to Hollywood, and checked me in at the Bel Air Motel.  That’s when my world started to get pretty scary!

I have to add, that years later (which I’ll cover in another post), Las Vegas wasn’t so forgiving to female singers, and I have some horror stories there also. But as a teen, it treated me well. As I made my journey with this complete Stranger to Los Angeles, the rest of my life begins a whole new chapter!

I had a cute room at the motel, with a little fridge.  Mr. Loeb was well behaved up to this point. I had my first audition set for the following week, the Love Rock Musical HAIR, I was preparing my song and dance.  I bought some vintage satin pants at a thrift store,,, a madras blanket and I sewed it into a top,,,that was my Hippie outfit,,,     I auditioned for Teddy Neely, and Kay Cole, Armand Coulet, and I got a callback,,,,,   Then I was called without the callback,,I was to start right AWAY!!!!  I was thrown into the most popular Broadway show in decades,,

I was a vegetarian, and made frequent trips to the market,

On one such trip, a very dark hairy hippie approached me in the produce section, and started chatting me up, said he was a songwriter, come to my car, I will play you a song.

Well, I did, and it was a smelly, beat up old car. He was smelly, too, and seemed a bit crazy… The hair stood up on my arms, so when Charlie, that was his name, asked to to go to his ranch, I declined.

Yes, my friends,, The Spahn Ranch and CHARLIE MANSON was his name.  Welcome to L A

Third installment coming soon.

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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Las Vegas Live Music Industry Honors Its Own, May 1st

Free Circus, with Jessica Marciel

Free Circus, with Jessica Marciel

On May 1st, all day Sunday afternoon at the Henderson Pavilion, Michael P. Selinsky will present, and honor, the Las Vegas inductees for the Las Vegas Rock Reunion Hall Of Fame. The Rock’n’Roll pioneers of the 60’s and 70’s. The bands that started it all. Little venues, it was a small town, big promoters. I wish ALL the bands could make it, but a great deal of time  and some just can’t make the trip.

When I moved to Las Vegas in the mid 1960’s, unless you were 21, you couldn’t go anywhere. Having come from Los Angeles and having already recorded six records with Capitol Records label, World Pacific Jazz,  my records got some airplay. Thank you Dennis Hunt of KENO radio. Dennis is a host and inductee on May 1st, too.

There was a life for teens here that never existed in Los Angeles. There was the Teenbeat Club and coffee houses and battle of the bands, and concerts at the Ice Palace, Las Vegas Convention Center, and National Guard Armory.

The first band I joined was The Little People: Mike Lyman, Mike Friedman, Mark Leonard, Steve Harvey, Bob Lily, (not all at the same time). We morphed into the London Fog, and Georgeanne Rock took my place when I ran off to join the circus, The Free Circus band that is. Roby Bennett, Dan Barnett, Bob Bjornsen and Larry Gann. They were college guys and I was a high school kid, still.

Free Circus had originals, good ones. And we did cover tunes, but we were good enough to open for great acts coming through town. The band opened for Cream, Steppenwolf,  Grateful Dead, Santana, Three Dog Night, Blue Cheer, Electric Prunes, Iron Butterfly, It’s A Beautiful Day, and more.  Free Circus was just one of many great bands: Bill Rosevear and the Scatter Blues Band, were the first. The Teenbeats recorded at the Teen Beat ClubWho’s The Father?, Batdorf and Rodney, Present Tense, Wolf Ticket… so many great bands.

Also being honored are the Promoters of these clubs and concerts. The staff, and producers. Stan Irwin brought The Beatles to Las Vegas. Stan will be there to get his Oscar of Rock and Roll. His son Lanny is one of the day’s hosts. I can’t wait to see Stan. I wish my dad were here.

When the late 60’s came along, I left Free Circus because Dan was drafted into the army, and we couldn’t/wouldn’t replace him. So, I flew out to Los Angeles and was cast in the musical, HAIR. While in LA, I later heard that while driving to see Dan graduate from boot camp, a drunk driver hit his family and his beautiful mother was instantly killed. I saw Dan In Los Angeles a few times while in HAIR , because his dad had a boat in Morrow Bay. He got a bereavement discharge and wound up in Las Vegas in Who’s The Father!.

I also saw Bob in the 70’s when we were neighbors. His then-wife Nancy Cannon, and their children had horses, and my roomie, Barbara, did also. We ran over in the early morning, one day, to see a little colt being born.

I came back to just be hired by Sonny Charles of the Checkmates, and toured for a year.  I toured the Playboy Club circuit, and was gone a lot. Then I won the lead in the Dunes, Casino de Paris Show, I was  touring before that , so I missed all these great bands that continued the tradition of clubs and concerts. I ran into Bob in the late eighties when he was single, a real estate agent and very unhappy. Than I saw Dan at Bob’s funeral when he lost his battle with cancer. My friend Conrad Scogi will be pitch hitting for Bob. I can’t wait to hear the ones I missed!

I will get to hear some of them May 1st, Belladonna, Sailon, Pork & BeansJohn Kaye and the Overlords,, and then I will also get to hear some of my favorites from the 70’s, Jerry Lopez & Santa Fe, Sidro’s Armada with Beverlee, whom I’ve admired, from afar, for years.

This isn’t just a concert, this is the induction into the Las Vegas Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, conceived by Michael Selinsky. What a great tribute and such an honor, Thank You Michael.

Irv Kluger

Irv Kluger

My late father, Irv Kluger, will be honored as a mentor because he taught drums to half the drummers in las  Vegas. This is a chance to see old Vegas, raw talent, originals that I think held up. People like myself who have at it for 45 years. I started my career in 1963, and I am still going. How many people can say that. Well, A lot will be there that day doing it longer than me. So , get out your tie dye, and fringe vests, and come to a be-in.

May 1st, Henderson Pavilion, 11am-8pm: I will be on between 4;15 and 5;30pm. This is it folks, you’ll never see the likes of this kind of talent again. I know it will be a beautiful day, and I will celebrate Free Circus, also, Little People and London Fog. I had a great time with all these bands, and love them all.

Now, get into your rock gear, whatever that is for you and let’s celebrate music, live music!

Update:  We sadly lost Michael Selinsky…we all miss him very much,,

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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