Talking With Andy Martello – April 24, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Andy Martello 4-17-14

This week, Ira spoke with Andy Martello . To listen to the interview click below.

Andy Martello, a professional comedian, variety performer, and freelance writer, is the author of “The King of Casinos, Willie Martello and the El Rey Club.”.

About the book:
After a horrific blaze destroyed Willie Martello’s El Rey Club in 1962, nearly 50 years would pass before anyone knew of how that tiny casino provided a template for present-day gambling resorts, upset the Las Vegas mob, and inadvertently launched the career of Francis Ford Coppola. Were it not for the discovery of a single photo in a Las Vegas museum, the history of the El Rey Club and Willie Martello would not have been written.

About the Author:
Martello began juggling at age ten and performing professionally by age fifteen, when he won his first talent contest. His first professional booking was in 1985 and it paid him a whopping $15.00…for eight hours work.

In 1988, Martello attended Ringling Bros. Clown College and toured the world performing at theme parks, theaters, and festivals. Since then he’s appeared at numerous comedy clubs and performed for major corporations such as Microsoft & Coca-Cola.

Martello has eaten fire on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” and spun plates on national television. He’s opened for legends like Gladys Knight and performed for President George Bush

In 2010 he began his career as a Las Vegas headliner as part of the comedy magic duo, Spike & Hammer.


Talking With Ben Jaffe – April 10, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Ben Jaffe 1

This week, Ira spoke with Ben Jaffe . To listen to the interview click below.

Ben Jaffe, the son of Hall founders Allan and Sandra Jaffe, was raised in and around Preservation Hall. Jaffe marched in his first Carnival parade at the age of nine alongside his father and parrain (godfather) Harold “Duke” Dejan. When he was thirteen, the lease on the building that housed the Hall was up for renewal. His father sat the family down and asked Ben whether they should continue. By 1984, many of the original musicians who had played at the Hall in its early days had passed away, yet the soul of the Hall remained the same. The young Jaffe replied, “Of course, you continue!”

Less than ten years later, the day after graduating from Oberlin College, Jaffe flew off to play upright bass with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in France and began overseeing operations at the Hall. He now serves as the Hall’s creative director and plays tuba (sousaphone), upright bass, and banjo in the band. Jaffe remastered and released several archival recordings of the early Preservation Hall Jazz Band, including some by Sweet Emma Barrett and Sister Gertrude Morgan. The band’s newer recordings include collaborations with the Blind Boys of Alabama, Pete Seeger, Tom Waits, Trombone Shorty, Mos Def, Lenny Kravitz, the Edge, and many others.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band returns to The Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz. celebrating its 50th Anniversary, April 11-12.


Talking With Bill Boyd – April 3, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Bill Boyd

This week, Ira spoke with Bill Boyd . To listen to the interview click below.

Bill Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming Corporation. He co-founded the company with his father, Sam. Bill has been a respected gaming figure for decades, and recognized for his extensive community philanthropy.

Bill’s father, Sam A. Boyd, came to Las Vegas in 1941 as a dealer. Through hard work and a keen business acumen, he became a stockholder in the Sahara, the Mint, and the Union Plaza hotels in Las Vegas. Bill practiced law in Las Vegas for over 15 years and was a partner with his father and others in the Union Plaza Hotel & Casino and the Eldorado Casino in Henderson. In 1973, Bill left his legal practice and began his full-time career in the gaming industry when he and his father co-founded Boyd Gaming Corporation. The Company’s first property, the California Hotel and Casino in downtown Las Vegas, opened in January, 1975.

Sam passed away in January, 1993. Bill served as chief executive officer of Boyd Gaming until January, 2008, when he was succeeded by current Boyd Gaming CEO Keith Smith.

Bill has been an active philanthropist and civic leader for decades. He was on the board of directors of the Las Vegas Downtown Progress Association and a past president of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Nevada. He was president of the Nevada Resort Association, served on the board of directors of Nevada State Bank for 20 years, founded Bank West (now Bank of Nevada) and presently serves on the board of directors for Western Alliance Bancorporation.

Bill and his wife, Judy,  Boyd Gaming and the Boyd Foundation have been major donors to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Boys and Girls Club, Boy’s Town of Nevada, National Judicial College, St. Rose de Lima Hospital, the United Way of Southern Nevada, D.A.R.E., and Nevada Blood Services, among many others. Through a significant $30 million gift that will benefit generations of future legal scholars, Bill Boyd provided funding for the creation of the nationally-ranked William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV.