The first Notes From the Neon Babylon (that we found, at least) appeared in the Jan. 5, 1994 Nevada Weekly.

Looking back on it, 1993 was a fairly decent year for live music here in Northern Nevada. Make no mistake, you can still find more good stuff on any given weekend in San Francisco than you can get here in a season, but some good things did go down locally in the last 12 months that are worth noting.

So hey, how ‘bout those casinos? A few of them are beginning to pay attention and are opening their showrooms to music that goes beyond Al Hirt and Patti Page.

Up at the lake, Caesars leads the way. The Towering Toga is pretty much leaving all the other south shore neons in the dust with its broad, eclectic booking policy.

Whatever the genre—country, soul, nostalgia, fogies, jazz lite, rock ‘n’ roll—if the act can sell tickets, the Big C will usually give it a shot.

In the past, Caesars has put rock ‘n’ soul folks like Santana, Los Lobos, the Neville Brothers, and the Jerry Garcia Band on its stage, and the result has always been great music and happy people.

One nice aspect of a rock show at Caesars: If one gets up, feeling that primitive, low-down urge to physically react to the music, one is not immediately maced and fed to the Dobermans, as is so often the case in other, less funky casinos.

In ‘93, the music hungry Caesaranian had a shot at Joe Cocker, Lyle Lovett, and Bruce Hornsby, and making his showroom debut January 14-16 is rockabilly croonman Chris Isaak.

By the way, don’t expect Garcia’s group to be back at the lake anytime soon. The band was great, but some of the fans were a bit too “rainforest” for the management’s taste. The Caesars suits quickly deduced that most of the human cinder cones out on the front steps of the casino cooking cheese sandwiches and veggie stir fry weren’t part of that Sharper Image demo that is the target of all commerce in modern America.

Down here in Reno, a whole passel of great music evenings happened upstairs at the Peppermill.

In ‘93, various promoters presented at the Mill (and always in the 10-15 dollar range) Roy Rogers & Norton Buffalo, The Bonedaddys, The Wailers, Robben Ford, Charlie Musselwhite, Steve Morse, and Bela Fleck. Not a loser in that lineup, and most of these shows were really good, from the standpoints of both performance and production.

In Sparks, the Nugget showed some signs of life after long being the stronghold of some of America’s most beloved musical geezers. (The hobistic image of Boxcar Willie explodes into one’s mind.)

If you like electric guitar, and you missed Robben Ford and Steve Morse, you blew it very very gigantically. If you like to dance and you missed the Bonedaddys, may Joe Cocker’s pelvic gremlins invade your hipbones in ‘94.

In Sparks, the Nugget showed some signs of life after long being the stronghold of some of America’s most beloved musical geezers. (The hobistic image of Boxcar Willie explodes into one’s mind.)

The Nugg did a couple of things in the last year that swung with greatness. During the Labor Day Ribfest, jiving pork suckers could see Little Charlie and The Nightcats, reggae group Big Mountain, and the ever-twitching Mumbo Gumbo, all for free at various locales.

A couple of weeks ago (Dec. 17) some right-thinking Nugget execs put Mumbo in the Celebrity Showroom for the Christmas twist of the season. A positively massive show—650 delirious Mumboheads, stompin’ up a storm the likes of which it is safe to say has rarely, if ever, been seen in the Ascuagatorium.

Word from the Nugget is that there may be more on the way, probably in the underused Rose Ballroom. Already set up for a concert in February, one Pepsi-swilling soul man by the name of Ray Charles. Should be interesting

The Reno Hilton brought us one great evening with the Neville Brothers in the Ziegfeld Showroom, and by the time you read this, the Nevs will have no doubt torn it up again with another Zigg show this past Saturday.

The Hilton also had a pretty good summer with their “Loud music in the parking lot” series of concerts, featuring a lot of bands who are either (a) Southern rock giants, or (b) classic rock giants. Not exactly trail-blazing stuff, but stacks of money were made on just about every show. I think.

That’s pretty much the ‘93 good music recap as it pertains to area slot shacks. Next week, the same review type treatment given to any whatever that’s not a casino, and the great shows they put on in the last year.

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