Talking With Mel Tillis – June 25, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Mel Tillis

This week, Ira spoke with Mel Tillis. To listen to the interview click below.

Country music legend Mel Tillis, who will be performing at the Golden Nugget Las Vegas on Friday, June 26, started performing in the early ‘50’s with a group called The Westerners while serving as a baker in the United States Air Force, stationed in Okinawa. In 1956, Webb Pierce recorded a song written by Tillis entitled “I’m Tired.” and it launched his musical career.

Tillis has recorded more than 60 albums. He has had 36 Top Ten singles, with nine of them going to Number One, including “Good Woman Blues,” “Coca Cola Cowboy,” and “Southern Rain.”


In 1976, Tillis was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters International Hall of Fame, and that same year, he was named Country Music Association’s (CMA) Entertainer of the Year. Also, for six years in the 70’s, Tillis won Comedian of the Year.

On September 21, 1999, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) named Tillis the Songwriter of the Decade for two decades.
Tillis was the recipient of the Golden Voice Entertainer Award for 2001. He also won the 2001 Golden R.O.P.E. Songwriter Award

The Grand Ole Opry inducted Tillis as its newest member on June 9, 2007.

In October 2007, Tillis became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Tillis’ home state of Florida honored him on March 25, 2009 — inducting him into the Florida Artist Hall of Fame.

2010 — The Academy of Country Music chose Tillis to receive the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award.

2012 — Tillis received the National Medal of Arts from the President of the U.S.


Talking With Frank Sinatra Jr. – June 18, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Frank Sinatra Jr

This week, Ira spoke with Frank Sinatra Jr. To listen to the interview click below.

Frank Sinatra Jr. will be performing in “Sinatra Sings Sinatra – The Centennial Celebration” in Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center, Saturday, June 20 at 7:30 p.m. It’s a one-of-a-kind, multi-media experience that pays tribute to the 100th anniversary of the birth and legacy of Frank Sinatra in personal stories, photos, videos and songs.

A headliner in his own right, Sinatra Jr. was born in New Jersey, raised in California and educated in the showrooms of Las Vegas and on bandstands around the world. At 21, he made his show business debut as a singer with the Elliott Brothers Band. He later joined the Sam Donahue Orchestra, and then went on to perform in showrooms throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, Brazil and England. Sinatra Jr., a talented songwriter, had three of his songs – “Spice,” “Believe In Me” and “Black Night” – featured on the 1971 album “Spice,” produced by the late Sonny Burke.

In the 1980s, backed by a 17-piece orchestra, Sinatra Jr. opened in downtown Las Vegas and reintroduced the lush big band sound, sparking renewed interest in live music. In the decade that followed, he expanded his band to include 20 musicians and played the lounge at Desert Inn, marking the first time in 20 years that a big band had appeared in a lounge on the famed Las Vegas Strip. By then, Sinatra Jr. had also joined his father’s staff as musical director and conductor, helping to choose the music and conduct the orchestra whenever his father was on stage.

Sinatra Jr. conducted for his father at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall and went on to perform his own show to sell-out audiences at Tavern on the Green and later, Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. His 1996 release of “As I Remember It,” a tribute to Frank Sinatra’s talents and the composers and arrangers, who defined the Sinatra legend, climbed the charts and earned critical acclaim along the way. In his tour that followed, Sinatra Jr. used a 44-piece orchestra and won respect from fans and critics.

“When I was a boy, my father would often bring me to Las Vegas. I saw all the stars perform, and late at night, there would always be a name band playing in a lounge,” he recalled. “I remember listening to Harry James, Count Basie and many other famous bands. It was quite an education. I always try to recapture the spirit of those late night sessions in my own show.”


Talking With Michael Cavanaugh – June 11, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Michael Cavanaugh new

This week, Ira spoke with Michael Cavanaugh. To listen to the interview click below.

Michael Cavanaugh, starring in “The Songs of Billy Joel & More” at The South Point Casino, June 19-21, was handpicked by Billy Joel to star in title role of the Broadway Musical “Movin’ Out.” Cavanaugh appeared in the show for three years and more than 1200 performances, culminating in 2003 with both Grammy and Tony award nominations.

Cavanaugh began playing at age 7, when his parents bought their first piano. Encouraged by family and friends, and inspired by his hero Billy Joel, he formed his first band at age 10 and began playing local functions, fine-tuning the craft that would become his chosen career.

His first full time gig as a musician was an extended engagement in Orlando Florida at a piano bar called Blazing Pianos. In January of 1999, Michael received an offer that would unknowingly change his life, with an opportunity to play Las Vegas at the famed New York, New York Hotel and Casino.

It was there that Billy Joel spotted Cavanaugh and joined him on stage one fateful night of February 2001. It only took two songs before Joel was convinced that he had found his new Piano Man. Cavanaugh closed up shop at New York, New York and moved to New York City to work alongside Billy Joel and Twyla Tharp, to shape the Broadway Musical that would be called “Movin’ Out.”

With the close of “Movin’ Out” at the end of 2005, Cavanaugh began touring in his own right, creating a show that reinterprets the modern pop/rock songbook.


Talking With Michael Green – June 4, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Michael Green 6-1-15

This week, Ira spoke with Michael Green. To listen to the interview click below.

Michael Green, associate professor of history at UNLV, is author of “Nevada: A History of the Silver State.”

Green teaches classes for both the history department and the Honors College. His courses range throughout U.S. history, but his teaching and research particularly focus on Las Vegas and Nevada history, the Civil War era and Abraham Lincoln, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition to “Nevada: A History of the Silver State,” he is co-author of “Las Vegas: A Centennial History,” among other books and articles about Nevada. Green has published three books on the Civil War era, including “Lincoln and the Election of 1860” and “Politics and America in Crisis: The Coming of the Civil War.” He is a columnist for Nevada’s Washington Watch and Vegas Seven, and a member of the board of directors for The Mob Museum, for which he was one of the researchers.

Raised in Las Vegas, Green earned his B.A. and M.A. at UNLV and his Ph.D. at Columbia University.